I E - Academic Advising Service

What is Psychological Counseling?

Psychological counseling offers support in developing coping strategies in difficult life situations. During their studies, many students go through difficult phases in their personal lives or acute stressful or crisis situations that they can’t always overcome on their own. 

Often problems with the studies are the reason students come to us, such as examination anxiety, problems with writing assignments or difficulties in dealing with the social environment. However, permanent stress or depression are also common reasons for a consultation. But these are only examples - of course you are also welcome to contact us in case of other difficult life situations or psychological burdens! 

During the counseling session, we can have an in-depth discussion about your individual situation, problems and symptoms. If you wish, we can work together on solution strategies or you can get a professional psychotherapeutic assessment of your problem situation.

You can find out more about possible topics and formats of our counseling under "What we offer".


The Psychological Counseling Service cannot offer long-term psychotherapy. However, most people who come for advice can get helped to solve their problems with a limited number of individual sessions. If necessary, however, we advise on all your questions on out-patient psychotherapy and help you to find a suitable psychotherapist.


Who does the Psychological Counseling?

Our team consists exclusively of experienced licensed psychological psychotherapists and psychotherapists in training. We are subject to psychotherapeutic confidentiality according to §203 of the German Criminal Code (StGB).

What happens during the first appointment?

At the first appointment, we inform you about the general conditions of our consultation (arrangement of appointments, obligation to maintain confidentiality, etc.). Afterwards, the focus is on your specific concerns. Together, we analyze your situation, develop an understanding of your life situation and your problem, and, if necessary, initial starting points and recommendations for further steps.

You can find more information about our individual and group counseling under "What we offer".

How do I know my concern is dire enough?

You don't have to be able to answer this question to come to our counseling. If you feel that counseling with us could help you, please do not hesitate to contact us. Even if you are still unsure whether you "really need" counseling, feel free to contact us. Most people hesitate for a long time before seeking help with mental health problems - but problems and distress can be solved more easily the sooner help is sought.

How long are the consultations?

Individual counseling appointments usually last 50 minutes. For more information on scheduling appointments, click here.

Our groups, workshops and lectures usually last 1.5-2 hours. Groups usually extend over several appointments.

How many consultations are possible?

Usually we can offer you up to 5 sessions. Depending on your needs and wishes, the sessions can take place weekly, fortnightly, monthly or at longer intervals.


Where does the counselling take place?

The counseling is located in rooms 0059-0062 in the main building of the TU (map view).

Appointments can also take place by phone or via a certified, data-secure video call (RED connect).

In which languages can the consultation be provided?

The consultation can be provided in German or English. 

Are there any costs associated with the counseling?

No. Our services are free of charge. 

Who can read my request or email?

Only the professionally qualified counselors of our team have access to the team mailbox of the Psychological Counseling Service.


Who can find out that I have used the counseling service?

All counselors in psychological counseling are bound by the legal duty of confidentiality according to §203 StGB (German Penal Code). Third parties do not receive any information that you are or were in counseling with us.

An exchange with contact persons within the TU (e.g. examination office, student office) or outside (e.g. with doctors) can only take place if it is your wish and you have explicitly released us from the legal duty of confidentiality in writing.

There are only 2 exceptions to the duty of confidentiality:

1) If there is an acute and significant danger to oneself or others, the confidentiality obligation must be broken for the protection of clients or other people (e.g., towards the police or the emergency physician). Otherwise, the counselors would be guilty of a legal failure to provide assistance.

2) If clients disclose during counseling that they are planning to commit serious crimes (e.g. murder, manslaughter, robbery, arson) and by reporting these plans the crimes can still be prevented.

What if I can't or don't want to keep an agreed appointment?

Please contact us as early as possible if you realize that your appointment does not fit after all.

This will help us to reschedule with you as soon as possible and keep the waiting time for other students as short as possible.

Please also let us know if you no longer wish to keep an appointment (e.g. because you have already arrived at another counseling center or therapy).

What is the difference between psychological counseling and psychotherapy?

One major difference is the number of sessions. Psychotherapy usually consists of significantly more appointments.

Another difference is that a diagnosis according to the criteria for mental illness is usually a prerequisite for psychotherapy. This is not the case for psychological counseling. You yourself do not have to be able to assess this difference by yourself, this can be done in conversation with the professionally trained counselors and psychotherapists.


What is psychotherapy and when is psychotherapy advisable?

Psychotherapy literally means "treatment of the soul". Psychological methods are used to identify and treat disorders of thought, behaviour and experience.

If you can no longer manage your psychological distress on your own and it is limiting your daily life, relationships or ability to study, then psychotherapy may be indicated. Please do not hesitate to seek prefessional help in such a case.

In the Psychological Counseling Center, we can talk with you to determine whether psychotherapy might be appropriate for you and which type of therapy is most appropriate for you. We can also support you in finding a place for therapy.


In-depth questions about psychotherapy

  • Who does psychotherapy?

Psychotherapy is provided by medical and psychological psychotherapists. They usually have a Diploma/Master's degree in psychology or medicine and obtain their state treatment license ("Approbation") in psychotherapy through further education and training based on their studies.

A psychological psychotherapist does not prescribe medication. He or she supports the patient to overcome his/her condition with psychological means, e.g. a conscious confrontation with its causes and/or through the targeted practice of new behaviors. If an organic disease must also be treated, or if a combination of psychological and pharmaceutical therapy is necessary to treat a mental disorder, psychological psychotherapists work together with physicians, i.e. psychiatrists.


  • What are the different types of Psychotherapy?

There are different psychotherapeutic approaches. They differ in their understanding of how mental illnesses arise and in their therapeutic concept. At present, only the so-called "guideline procedures" (Richtlinienverfahren) that meet the necessary legal requirements are paid for by the public and, usually, also the private health insurances: These are behavioral therapy, psychodynamic/depth-psychology based psychotherapy, analytical psychotherapy and systemic therapy.

Analytic Therapy

Analytical psychotherapy comes from the tradition of classical psychoanalysis, which can be traced back to Sigmund Freud and is the oldest form of psychotherapy. Over the course of time variations have developed, but they have in common their understanding of how psychological illnesses arise.

The goal of analytical psychotherapy is to make the patient aware of repressed feelings and memories that block the development to becoming a healthy, independent individual. Analytical therapy assumes that personal life experiences and especially their conflictual, unconscious processing can contribute to or maintain psychological illnesses. If life experiences lead to unconscious conflicts, then psychological and physical symptoms can arise. In analytical psychotherapy, the focus of therapy is on these life experiences and processing them in the present. Analytical psychotherapists support you in becoming aware of these unconscious processes and thus making what is confusing accessible to your conscious experience. They have you describe what you are thinking of and how you feel without evaluating or judging what you say. They not only pay attention to what you say but also how you deal with yourself and your psychotherapist. In the course of therapy, a pattern arises that shows how you unconsciously treat yourself and other people. Besides this, it is determined whether this way of treatment, which made sense in previous situations, is appropriate to your life currently or leads to inappropriate experiences and behavior or to symptoms of illness.

During analytical psychotherapy, you usually lie on a couch and do not look at the psychotherapist. The advantage of this is that you are more free in your thoughts and feelings and can focus more on your inner world, thoughts, and feelings.

Analytical therapy is a long-term therapy and lasts at least two years. With your psychotherapist, you usually agree to have two or three therapy sessions per week.

Psychodynamic / Depth Psychology-Based Psychotherapy

This form of psychotherapy developed out of psychoanalytical therapy. The basic idea of the human mind as well as the understanding of how psychological illnesses develop are similar: Depth psychology-based psychotherapy also assumes that an internal psychological conflict is the reason for the current problem. However, depth psychotherapy concentrates its treatment on processing the so-called “central conflict” and, on this basis, looks for possible causes in the patient’s personality or past.

With insights into the context and reasons for their problems, patients are to strive for changes in their experiences or behavior, and the psychotherapist actively supports them in this. Treatment is done while sitting and lasts between six months and two years.

(Cognitive) Behavioral Therapy

Behavioral therapy assumes that people have varying susceptibility to psychological illnesses based on psychological and social characteristics that have developed over the course of their life history and also based on genetic and physical factors. With this background, stressful experiences or stress can trigger a psychological illness for the first time. Other factors can protect people from psychological illnesses: for example, trusting, stable relationships; the ability to accurately perceive oneself and others; or the meaning they see in their life and tasks. Reactions from the environment to psychological problems, their coping behaviors, and the internal dynamics of psychological illnesses influence how the illness progresses.

In behavioral therapy, the psychotherapist will first work with you on an explanation for why you suffer from a mental disorder. You decide on concrete therapy goals and, from the causes and conditions of the illness, derive specific treatment measures. A behavioral therapist will encourage you to look more closely at how you see others or how you behave in certain situations and to ask yourself how that influences your well-being and what you can change about it. For example, they will help you to recognize negative thoughts and their influence on your feelings and behavior and to develop helpful thoughts in your everyday life and try out new behaviors. This could mean, for example, going with the psychotherapist outside of their practice or clinic into situations that scare you. Or that you analyze and work with your psychotherapist on the way you see yourself and how you shape your relationships. The psychotherapist will support you in better understanding the behavioral patterns you have acquired over your lifetime and changing so that your problems are alleviated.

In behavior therapy, you will sit across from the psychotherapist. The number and frequency of therapy sessions are agreed on by the patient and psychotherapist depending on the type of problem. The treatment usually lasts between six to twelve months, sometimes longer.

Systemic Therapy

There are several forms of systemic therapy, but all of them place a focus not only on the individual patient but also include the most important contacts, for example the family, and the patient’s environment. An individual patient’s mental disorder is viewed as a symptom for a problem in the systemic behavioral or communication patterns, that is, in the family or broader environment.

The psychotherapist will try to identify the disruptions in the system and look for solutions together with the patient. Systemic therapy assumes that the improvement of psychological complaints is initiated in the therapy sessions, but that the decisive changes will occur between sessions. That is why the time between the therapy sessions might be longer. At the start of therapy, they could be one to two weeks apart and at the end there could be six or eight weeks between sessions. Systemic therapies usually don’t last longer than 25 sessions, but long-term therapy could also be done. The individual therapy sessions take place as single or double sessions.

Client-Centered Psychotherapy

This form of therapy is part of the humanist approaches and is also sometimes referred to as “conversational.”  The focus is not placed soley on the patient’s symptoms or development history but on the person as a whole in their living environment. Client-centered psychotherapy assumes that each person has the ability to develop positively. Patients with a mental disorder are therefore themselves best suited to analyze their personal situation and find solutions for their problems. In client-centered psychotherapy, the patient is considered the “expert of him/herself.” That is why self-discovery is the focus of therapy. With the help of client-centered discussions in which the importance of feelings is given particular attention, the patients are to understand and learn to accept themselves.

In client-centered psychotherapy, the patients and psychotherapists sit across from one another. The treatment usually lasts between six to twelve months with one therapy session per week.

Gestalt Therapy

Gestalt therapy according to Perls is also a form of humanist psychotherapy. Here, as well, the assumption is that people essentially strive for the good and holistic. In this method, patients are confronted with experiences that have not been fully processed or needs that have been repressed, whereby the therapy concentrates on the patient’s state in the here and now.

The psychotherapist attempts to motivate the patient and thus to support them in confronting their problems and taking responsibility for their own actions. The goal of Gestalt therapy is the development of the patient holistically as an individual and making them aware of all parts of their personality, feelings, and needs (the so-called “good Gestalt”).


  • Who pays the costs for psychotherapy?

Statutory health insurance (Gesetzliche Krankenversicherung)

Psychotherapy is included in the statutory health insurance coverage. That means that statutory health insurance providers cover the costs for types of therapy considered “guideline procedures” (analytical psychotherapy, depth psychology-based psychotherapy, behavior therapy). However, psychotherapy must be requested - that means that after a trial session you will have to submit a request for the approval of additional sessions. You can get the form you need and additional information from your psychotherapist. Usually, the psychotherapists take on most of the administrative tasks for you. You only need to read and sign the form. If the health insurance company has approved your request for psychotherapy, it will completely cover the costs of the psychotherapy. You will not need to pay anything.

The statutory health insurance providers can reject your request. You can object to the rejection. If your objection is also rejected, you can file a claim with the Social Court, which is free of charge.

Private health insurance (private Krankenversicherung)

There are no standard regulations for the coverage of private health insurance. What is important is what the insured and the insurance company agreed on in the insurance contract. Many private health insurance companies refuse to insure mentally ill people, however, or limit the coverage in the case of a psychological illness. Private insurance companies also usually only reimburse the costs for treatment with scientifically recognized procedures (“guideline procedures”). In any case, you would be well-advised to have the insurance company confirm in writing that it will cover the cost of treatment before you begin.

No health insurance or you pay out of pocket

If you do not have health insurance and are in financial hardship, you can also submit a request to the Social Welfare Office (Sozialamt) that your psychotherapy be paid. If you pay the costs yourself, you are usually treated like a patient insured with private health insurance. The costs of treatment are determined by the fee scale for psychotherapists. Before starting treatment, you should come to a clear agreement - in writing if at all possible - on the type, duration, and costs of the treatment.

  • Alternatives to long waiting lists?

Cost reimbursement

The Association of Statutory Health Insurance Physicians (Kassenärztliche Vereinigungen) and health insurance providers are legally mandated to enable you to have psychotherapy. However, if you cannot find a psychotherapist who accepts patients with statutory health insurance within an acceptable waiting period, you can acquire the service yourself. Your health insurance company is required to reimburse the costs (Sec. 13(3) Social Code V (SGB V)). The courts have ruled that waiting times of over six weeks are unreasonable, and it is also unreasonable (for medical reasons and for reasons of humane medical treatment) for you to contact more than five physicians who accept patients with statutory health insurance.

If you have found a psychotherapist who is not approved for accepting patients with statutory health insurance but who can provide you with a therapy spot, then you will first have to clarify with your health insurance provider whether they will cover the costs of treatment. Ask the health insurance representative responsible for you how you can successfully submit a request for cost reimbursement for psychotherapy. Emphasize that you urgently need the therapy and that you were not able to get a treatment spot with a psychotherapist who accepts patients with statutory health insurance within the next few months. For the request, you can send a letter in which you describe the reasons you would like to do a psychotherapeutic treatment with a psychotherapist who does not usually accept patients with statutory health insurance. You should include the following with your request:

·         Certification of necessity or urgency from a psychotherapist or physician that the psychotherapy is necessary, urgent, and cannot be delayed any longer.

·         Proof that you cannot get a therapy spot with a psychotherapist who accepts patients with statutory health insurance within a reasonable waiting period. Some statutory health insurance providers require written rejections, for others it is sufficient to document your telephone calls (notes about the date, time, and result of the call with the psychotherapists approved for accepting patients with statutory health insurance).

Your psychotherapist should also briefly provide justification for your request and then submit the forms for the “Approval of Non-Contractual Probatory Sessions and Psychotherapy.”

When submitting your documents to the health insurance company, for the protection of your data you should make sure that no details about your illness are given. Treatment can begin once your health insurance company has consented in writing to cover the costs.

Out-patient clinics at educational institutes for psychotherapists

People who want to become psychological psychotherapists must first complete a Diplom or Master’s degree in Psychology before starting the training to become a psychological psychotherapist. 

The first part of training is at least one and a half years (1800 hours) of practical work that is usually done in psychiatric clinics.

The second part is then done as out-patient treatment in an out-patient clinic at the educational institute - under the supervision of experienced psychotherapists.

People who have statutory health insurance have the possibility to get a therapy spot relatively quickly (average waiting time 1 month).


  • How do I know which therapist is the right one for me?


Listen to your intuition! It is important that you feel comfortable with your psychotherapist and that there is a basis for trust. A positive and trusting relationship between the patient and psychotherapist is an important prerequisite for therapy to be successful.

According to scientific studies, most patients can already judge very well whether they get along with their therapist after only a few trial sessions. That is why you should first arrange for an appointment for a trial session. For therapists who are approved for treating patients with statutory health insurance, the health insurance provider will cover the costs.

How do I get Academic Adjustment for a disadvantage?

You can find out more here. For advice on compensation for disadvantages or other questions about long-term or permanent impairments, you are also welcome to contact our colleagues at the Counseling Service for Students with Disabilities and Chronic Illnesses.

By the way: here you will find many other helpful contact points and counseling services within and outside the TU.