The Counselling Centre

Academic & Life Skills Coaching

What is Academic & Life skills coaching?

Academic & Life skills Coaching is an interactive process in which students are able to talk about their academic concerns, discuss current approaches, and decide on helpful changes based on a discussion of effective success strategies. It provides a supportive environment where you can set academic goals and build the skills necessary to succeed in your university career and beyond.

As a student, a feeling of being overwhelmed may result from a variety of personal concerns, including poor boundaries, lack of confidence, and unhealthy self-care or methods of coping with stress.  Academic success can increase by developing skills around effective goal setting, prioritization, and overcoming procrastination. Stress can be managed by making healthier lifestyle choices, learning how to respond to situations in different ways, challenging beliefs that relate to stress, and developing practices that encourage emotional wellness. These are all topics which can be discussed in an Academic & Life skills Coaching appointment.

Please note: Academic & Life skills Coaching is not tutoring, course specific, or personal counselling.

Who can use The Counselling Centre?

All full-time and part-time Saint Mary's students can use our services. Students must be registered and attending classes to use our service.

Is there a limit on the number of available sessions?

Some students present with short-term issues while other students present with long-term issues so the amount of sessions will be determined by you and the Intake & Programs Coordinator.

Academic skill development written resources:

If you are solely interested in building new academic skills, without exploring your academic approach in an interactive manner, see below for strategies on a variety of topics.

Check out our comprehensive videos on building academic skills below: 

Is there a fee for coaching?

Simple answer: No – this is a free service provided by the University.

Are Academic & Life skills Coaching sessions confidential?

Any information you share with staff is kept confidential and is almost never released without your permission. However, there are situations where confidentially may have to be breached. For example, if the Intake & Programs Coordinator had reason to believe that you were potentially at risk of hurting yourself or another person, she is required to take steps to prevent this from happening - even if it means breaching confidentiality. Also, if the Intake & Programs Coordinator is made aware of a situation involving a risk of abuse to a child or another dependent person, she is again required to disclose this information. Finally, if there was a subpoena for your files by a court of law, we are legally required to provide this information. The Intake & Programs Coordinator will answer any questions about release of information during your 1st session.

How often and for how long will I need Academic & Life skills Coaching?

The frequency and duration will depend on the complexity of the issue(s) to be addressed and also, the goals set. Most students benefit from ongoing appointments every two weeks for up to 4 sessions. The number of Academic & Life skills Coaching sessions is ultimately determined by the Intake & Programs Coordinator.

When are appointments available?

New students to the service have the opportunity to do a drop in appointment first. Drop in times are as follows: Monday: 8:30am-11:30am and Tuesday: 1pm-4pm.

Appointment times for returning students for Academic & Life skills Coaching vary throughout the week. There is some flexibility with these times. Due to a high demand for this service, there may be a 2-3 week waiting period. To bridge you to your appointment, please see the topics above.

Do I really need Academic & Life skills Coaching? Shouldn't I be able to succeed on my own?

We prefer not to ask whether or not students "need" this service, but rather, whether they can benefit from participating. Often university level academic skills and strategies are not taught in high school and personal concerns can negatively impact your ability to achieve your academic potential.

University can be a challenging time for many students, but it doesn't have to be. Could you benefit from reducing your stress level? Would you like to learn how to interact professionally with your professors and build your academic confidence? Would you like to explore your core values in order to create effective academic goals? If so, you would likely benefit from Coaching.

Does The Counselling Centre provide advice on career planning, class selection, or employment?

While these topics do come up in Academic & Life skills Coaching, there are specialized services at Saint Mary's to help you with these topics:

Career Planning

Academic Planning and Course Selection:

Arts: Necia Browne - Phone: 902-420-5437, Email: , Emily Anderson - Phone: 902-420-5437, Email:

Commerce: Mahbouba Kafrouny - Phone: 902-491-6532, Email:

Science: Courtenay Kyle - Phone: 902-496-8165, Email: , Laura Johnston - Phone: 902-491-6214, Email:

Do I need to prepare for my first session?

In general, no, however, it would be helpful if you gave some thought to the way you are currently approaching your academics and be prepared to share your concerns.  In between sessions, you may be asked to practice some of the skills and strategies discussed in session, making a conscious effort to approach your academics in a healthy and productive way.

What is the first session like?

When you arrive for your drop in appointment, you will be asked to complete an intake form. This takes about 5-10 minutes so you may want to come a bit early. You will also be provided with an information sheet which explains various aspects of our service. In your first session, you will be asked questions about your current approaches and concerns related to your academics. Your concerns will dictate the topics discussed in the first session.  An email will be sent (if you wish) following the appointment with written overviews of strategies discussed.

How do I set up an appointment?

New students to the service have an opportunity to do a drop in appointment first. Drop in times are as follows: Monday: 8:30am-11:30am, Tuesday: 1pm-4pm.

Returning students can schedule an appointment by calling 902-420-5615, dropping by our office on the 4th Floor of the Student Centre, filling out the online form (link) or emailing us at We do not provide academic & life skills via email.

Can I get a note?

Only in exceptional circumstances and if a student is known as a longer term client of The Counselling Centre, will we provide a note.

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