To all First Years: Welcome to CPUT!

Student Counselling is open to all students; on a walk-in, as well as a referral basis. We are a team of psychologists, social workers, career advisors and receptionists, there to be the heartbeat of wellness on campus. Sometimes frustrated students come to us and we refer them to the appropriate places for assistance, sometimes students unsure about their career/subject choices come see us and we help them decide what route to take, and other times it’s just life problems that bring students through our doors.

At this time of year plenty of First years often seek our help. We try to pay special attention to the needs of these first years (you guys), because we know the adjustment is often a little tougher than expected. Or perhaps you knew it would be tough, but you thought you would handle it better. Well, that’s where we come in – we would like to help you. Either come to us and see a counsellor for individual sessions or join a support group. Support groups are running on some of the campuses, these include: A men’s group, LGBTI group, exam preparation group and a first-year adjustment group, aimed specifically at helping first years with the adjustment to student life (Bellville and Cape Town Campuses).

Here are some basic things you can do or try to remember for this year:

  • You might feel lost and think that everybody seems so much more organised and clued-up than you, but remember, most students feel that way. Someone likely thinks you seem more organised than you feel.
  • If you attend class and stay relatively updated with class preparation you have already done half the work. The problem usually comes with procrastinating (putting off work you actually need to do), falling behind in class and then the next thing you know, you feel completely overwhelmed and unable to move forward. Just keep doing bits of work.
  • On the other side, you can’t work all the time and make no time for things you enjoy. It’s always important to take some downtime and rest your mind. During exam times, it is to be expected that you will study more, spend less times on leisure activities and maybe even sleep less – all the more reason to make sure you balance studying and relaxation during the rest of the year.
  • Try to suspend all judgements. University life is much more diverse than school and if you have moved from another city, there is even more to get used to. It might do you well to try and keep an open mind about people. You might disregard someone, based on preconceived ideas, whom could have been a valuable friend if you had given them the opportunity.
  • Try to expand your comfort zone. There are often things, places and people we feel comfortable with, and sometimes that is good enough. However, sometimes staying in that area of comfortability leads to us feeling stuck. Part of the university experience is to have experiences, try it (but be safe!).

Any students, first year or not, are welcome to report to their student counselling office if they are struggling to adjust to student life. We are here to help. For other opportunities of help, check out our Facebook page, watch out for competitions to win, events during the year and the launch of support or exam preparation groups on your campus.

Surviving Exams

Exam times are stressful! Pressure to hand in assignments, get through all the work and the fear of failing are all concerns every student faces. This is on top of other “life stress” that’s going on; and as we know the life stress (relationship difficulties, issues with family, health problems etc) does not go away just because it’s exam time. However, NOW we need to prioritise: Passing the next subject is the most important thing!

Straight-forward things you need to remember when you are studying:
• Drink enough water – keep hydrated
• Take regular breaks – 60-90 minute sessions
• Deep breathing before you start, to put you in a calm and focused mind-space
Try this: Close your eyes. Inhale for three seconds through your nose, hold it for three seconds, now exhale for three seconds through your mouth. Repeat this four or five times and your mind will be calmer than when you started.

To help you get through the stressful time, remember to …
1. Do something you enjoy
When we are stressed, we don’t think about what we need and enjoy but rather what we must do. Understandably the ‘nice things’ are not important right now. However, we should try to strike some balance and include a little niceness during this stressful time. Think about what you enjoy: calling home and chatting to a family member, loudly listening to a song you love, dancing on your own/with a friend, reading a book or watching funny clips on the internet. Having something to look forward to, or a little time to relax is what helps keep us going.
2. Connect
Sometimes we become very isolated during the exams (intentionally or unintentionally). Seeing friends or family helps to give us perspective, to remind us that there is still a world out there. Chatting to friends who also write exams can be useful and perhaps become a support system; studying together or taking breaks together.
3. Stay positive
Look at the positive side of exams. You are on your journey working towards your goal. Think about the results you want to achieve and the future career you imagine yourself to have. Positive visualisation can help you feel inspired and motivated. It also helps you focus on what you WANT, rather than what you DON’T WANT.
4. Spend time outdoors
Taking a walk, being aware of your surroundings; the sights, sounds and smells, could be a wonderfully distracting and refreshing event. Just what your brain needs after you have been sitting inside a room staring at books and computer screens. A little bit of exercise boosts blood to the brain, which helps you stay focused.

Remember, examinations come and go, and are usually followed by a holiday 😊

Prioritise and be kind to yourself!

CPUT Students Learn to sail


by Momelezi Funani

Mowbray Peer Helper, 3rd year Sports Management


Sailing is a very strange sport because so much of it is out of your hands. You rely solely on the weather for all of your push. You can personally be as prepared as possible, but if the weather doesn’t want to play you cannot change it. Last Sunday the 21st of May was my first time on boat. It was very scary but enjoyable at the same time. I remember it as an absolutely sensational feeling! I tried to learn as much as I can from other team members, as some of them had more experience than me. I kept my head open to new ideas, new technology and try towards the end of the day even to anticipate what I was going to be told to do. Sailing requires team effort as you have to cover for one another. I found that if you are in a team sport, you’ve got to work together, and you’ve got learn and listen to everyone. During a maneuver you got to give 100%, and that means lifting and moving heavily sails and often finding yourself in a space you cannot fully stand up straight! What adds to making these maneuvers so complicated is that you are doing all of this on a completely unstable platform.

However the boat becomes its own little city that never stops. When you are on the boat you become intimately aware of its noises, smells and general feel of the boat. You can actually feel the sea state change. My most important life lesson so far is that you have to trust your team mates because they need you and you’ve got to bring your A GAME as they rely on you.

As a peer helper from Mowbray campus we received an invitation from CPUT DSA about an initiative to teach youth life skills using sailing as the medium. The sessions are held at the Royal Cape Yacht Club. When I heard about this opportunity I was immediately excited to join. The main criteria was that students/ youth were required to be able to swim. If not, they will give us an opportunity to learn. The sail programme lasts for 5 consecutive Sundays and you have to attend all of them in order to graduate. This is a great opportunity for students because sailing sport is a non-traditional sport, especially for young people from disadvantage communities. I am learning so much and enjoying every minute of this experience and would like to thank all the agencies for making it possible for us to be part of something great….

Counselling Frequently Asked Questions




Q:           How long does a session last?

A:                  50 – 60 minutes


Q:           How many sessions will I need?

A:                  At Student Counselling we offer you up to 6 sessions. However, we are also open to the fact that the amount of sessions differs from individual to individual. This will be discussed with your counsellor.


Q:           How often do I need to have a session?

A:                  At Student Counselling we offer a session once a week. Your counsellor will recommend to you how often you should have a session.


Q:           How much do sessions cost?

A:                  Counselling is free for registered CPUT students


Q:           Should I see a male or female therapist?

A:                  Individuals often wonder if they would do better with a male or female therapist. Factors such as warmth

and empathy are much more related to outcome than therapist gender. However, the nature of your particular problem as well as your own preferences may lead you to seek out a male or female therapist.


Q:           How do I make an appointment?

A:                  Call our friendly receptionist, Anthea on 0214603237 or pop into our offices in the Administration building, Room 2.7


Q:           What happens when I make an appointment?

A:                  At Student Counselling you will be required to go through our intake processes. This involves you telling a counsellor in 5-10 minutes what your reason is for seeking counselling. The counsellor on intake will either refer you to the best resource in CPUT or request the receptionist to make a booking with the next available counsellor.


Q:           What happens in a counselling session?

A:                  Your first counseling session may be scarier than the problem that is causing you to seek counseling. The first session starts with greetings and then a discussion of confidentiality. Most everything that happens in counselling is confidential. You are protected by strict rules that prohibit discussing anything that goes on in session or even that you are coming to counselling. There are some very specific exceptions to this rule, which will be discussed in the first session as well.

What brought you in to counseling is usually the starting point, so you can start working on your problems right way. Your family history and past will probably be reviewed at this time. The counsellor will discuss treatment options with you. We will make every effort to see that you receive the best available care, whether it is on or off campus.


Q:           How do I prepare for my first session?

A:                  Please arrive at least 15 minutes prior to the scheduled appointment to complete information forms. Show up with the intention to be as open and honest about yourself as you can be. The counsellor will want to learn about what is bringing you to counselling  at this time in your life and hopefully you will be interested in filling them in. The likelihood is that there is much you will want to tell the counsellor and he/she will be listening carefully and giving you their full attention.


Q:           Are all types of counselling the same?

A:                  Not all counsellors are the same, but they do have similarities. All counsellors should make you feel that you are supported and help you to make sense of your individual circumstances. By the end of any counselling you should feel that you are better equipped to cope with the future.

Each type of counselling is designed to help a different set of needs, and so counsellors will differ from each other in certain ways. Psychodynamic therapy concentrates on talking about your past, whereas other therapies may choose to focus on the present or even the future. Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) often involves ‘homework’ for you to do. Bereavement therapy would focus more on helping you deal with difficult emotions.


Q:           Do I need counselling if I can handle my own problems?

A:                  A good indicator that you might need counseling is when you’re having difficulties at university, when you are having a hard time concentrating, if you feel unhappy more days than not, if you cannot sleep, have a hard time figuring out what is important in your life, or just cannot manage the stress anymore. If you are currently questioning if you should go into counselling, that is probably the best indicator that you should. Trust your instincts.

Q:           Isn’t it best for me to solve my own problems?

A:                  A counsellor doesn’t solve your problems for you. Rather, he or she helps you clarify issues so you can solve problems on your own with a counsellor’s guidance, support, and expertise. The goal of counselling is to make you more self-sufficient, not more dependent.


Q:          Can I refer someone who might need counselling?

A:                  The most effective way for someone to get counselling is if they come to the decision of their own accord. What we can suggest is to ask for a referral card from our receptionist and encourage the person who may need the help to contact us in their own time.