Mission Statement

VFS supports the success of all students. We promote a healthy educational environment and provide responsive and accessible services. All services, programs, and partnerships are designed to enhance student development.

Adjusting to post-secondary involves new challenges that can be stressful, such as moving far away from home, living alone or with roommates, and navigating a new educational environment. The full-time, intensive programs at VFS can be very demanding and this can increase stress. For those students experiencing acute challenges, VFS offers short-term counselling and crisis support. Our aim is to support students while they regain clarity and healthy coping strategies in attaining their academic and life goals.

For those students who require longer-term support, VFS can arrange a community referral.

Immediate Help & After Hours Emergency

Medical Emergency: Dial 9-1-1

Fire ∙ Police ∙ Ambulance

911 is available in 140 languages


Vancouver General Hospital: 855 W 12 Ave Vancouver, B.C. 604.875.4111

St. Paul’s Hospital: 1081 Burrard St Vancouver, B.C. 604.682.2344

More About the VFS Counselling Program

At VFS, our counselling program is run on a short-term model of 6-8 sessions. We use an approach called narrative therapy. It may feel a little different from what you have experienced with other counsellors. We like to ask questions, with the intention of learning about the problem together and developing new perspectives on how to deal with it. We believe that "you are not the problem; the problem is the problem." We consider you an expert in what you have experienced and will not give you advice or tell you what to do.

  • How would things be different if counselling felt like it was working?
  • How would you notice things improving for yourself?
  • How might others notice that you are feeling better?
  • What types of things would you be doing differently? How would the day-to-day change?
  • What would tell you that counselling hasn’t been working for you?
  • What worked? What did not?
  • Was there any incident that made you realize that you wanted to see a counsellor?
  • What made you stop seeing that counsellor?
  • What were you looking to get from working with a counsellor?
  • Do you blame yourself for not being able to feel better?
  • Do you feel lost without your counsellor?
  • What might your previous counsellor say to help ground you?
  • Was there anything you learned while working with that counsellor that has helped?
  • What are your concerns with working with somebody new?
  • Familiarize yourself with your moods, feelings, and patterns. Tracking your mental health can help accelerate the process with a clinician, and it makes it easier to know how to put your concerns into words. Further, sometimes it is difficult to remember exactly how we were feeling or thinking and tracking these thoughts or feelings can help us to better understand them.
  • Goals for therapy are important. While awaiting sessions, it is helpful to reflect on what your struggles are, when you noticed them, and what might have happened that made you reach out to counselling. This can help the VFS counsellor discuss hopes for therapy that are realistic and make sense.
  • Self-Care
    • Aim for a routine around sleep; sacrificing sleep for schoolwork, socializing, or hobbies can slowly exhaust us. Getting enough sleep provides a foundation to work through any other mental health concerns.
    • Pay attention to your diet. Some mental health concerns, like distractibility, irritability, struggle with focus, and low motivation can all be related to not getting proper nutrition. It’s difficult to eat well all the time, but paying it some attention might help to regulate eating and eliminate diet as a potential cause for recent emotional struggles.
    • It’s important to get exercise, fresh air and to move your body.
    • How do you plan for down time that is relaxing and energizing?
  • Do you think you have a relationship with anxiety?
  • What does anxiety mean to you? How do you know when it’s around?
  • Are there other words you can use to describe anxiety and its influence?
    • Can you notice when it feels louder?
    • Can you notice when it feels quieter?
    • Is it associated with certain people, places, or situations?
    • What is it telling you to be afraid of?
    • How does it feel in the body? What sensations are you aware of when it’s around?
    • What has helped you to tone it down in the past?
    • Does anybody know about what you are experiencing?
  • Does it feel like there are a lot of emotions?
  • Does it feel like there aren’t enough emotions?
  • When do you notice feeling low?
  • What are you thinking about when you’re feeling low?
  • Are there times when you’re not feeling low?
  • What seems to make you feel better?
  • When did this low feeling start?
  • How do you recognize that you’re feeling low or off?
  • What would be different if you weren’t feeling low?
  • Is there any particular activity that is taking up most of your time?
  • If you imagine a typical 24-hour window for you as a pie chart, what takes up most of the pie? What do you wish were larger portions of the pie? What do you wish were smaller?
  • What do you notice happens when you sit down to work on something, but don’t seem to get much work done? Is it a problem with the work and understanding it, or do you find yourself getting distracted?
  • What sorts of things prove to be distracting when you are trying to be productive?
  • Do you have adequate time planned into your schedule for relaxing, hobbies, self-care, and socializing?
  • Are there things that you used to do, but find that you can’t anymore?
  • Would people around you understand how swamped you feel?
  • How would you rank your priorities; what needs more time and what is taking too much?
  • Have you reached out to teachers or faculty if you are having trouble understanding the material of your coursework?
  • What strategies seem to have helped you achieve better focus? When do you notice you’re able to work on something? What might be different?
  • What sorts of things do you wish you were better at?
  • What comes up when you think about your work not being perfect?
  • How long have you felt like your work had to be flawless?
  • Do you think your standards for your own work are realistic? Would you apply the standards you have for yourself on peers, family, friends?
  • What does your inner-voice tell you if it is being critical about your work?
  • What makes you able to keep working on something even if you’re frustrated?
  • Are there certain people, settings, or times that make your work more approachable?
  • Are you finding that you can’t help but compare your work with your peers’?
  • What does it mean for your work to be “not good enough”? Have you been told this, or is this a feeling you have about your own work?
  • What might you tell a friend that is being critical of their work?
  • What have supportive people told you about your work in the past?

How To Book An Appointment

Please email studentcounselling@vfs.com, or phone 604.685.5808 ext. 4300

Counselling appointments are only offered on weekdays between 9am-4pm, are one hour long, and continue to a maximum of 6-8 sessions. Once we receive your email requesting counselling, we will email you back with a request for your phone number and an indication of your level of urgency to see a counsellor. You will be contacted as soon as an appointment becomes available. Keep in mind, the wait time for an appointment varies but can be anywhere from 2-4 weeks.

We ask that once you accept a counselling appointment you attend your sessions consistently for the full 6-8 week duration. We take your concerns seriously, and in order for the helping process to be successful it will take a bit of time and commitment on the part of both student and counsellor.

If your appointment coincides with a class, at your request your counsellor can email confirmation of your appointment to your Program Manager so that you have an Excused Absence on your file. 

Keep in mind, any challenges or issues that you discuss with your counsellor are confidential unless there is concern for your safety or the safety of someone else.


Student Services

Not sure if you need a counselling appointment? Are you worried about a classmate? Come talk to the folks at Student Services!

  • Student Services Office: 394 West Hastings Street
  • Office Hours: Monday to Friday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Additional Resources


Anxiety BC - https://www.anxietycanada.com/


Here to Help - http://www.heretohelp.bc.ca/


Canadian Mental Health Association – http://www.cmha.ca/

Mood Disorders Association of BC - http://www.mdabc.net/


The Crisis Centre - https://crisiscentre.bc.ca/


Qmunity - http://qmunity.ca/


Looking Glass Foundation of BC - http://www.lookingglassbc.com/


VFS Sexual Misconduct Policy - Download Here


Women Against Violence Against Women - http://www.wavaw.ca/


Counselling BC - http://counsellingbc.com/