Supporting co-op students: new embedded wellness counsellors

Thursday, October 15, 2020

Student chatting with a counsellor

Co-op students can sometimes face unique stress, pressures and feelings of isolation on work term (or during their recruiting term). To support these students, two new mental health staff from Campus Wellness will be available.  

The counsellor's positions are made possible by a generous $1 million gift from Neil and Gisele Murdoch, parents of University of Waterloo alumni.

These counsellors understand the co-op program at Waterloo and are another great resource available to help resolve challenging wellness-related situations for students.

The counsellors provide 1:1 mental health support to prepare students for work terms, and ongoing phone or ‘virtual’ support during work terms. Students on a recruiting term will also be provided support.

It’s also important to note that these counsellors won’t be sharing information with co-op advisors or other staff.  

Students will be able to start making an appointment with a co-op embedded counsellor in Fall 2020. This is just one area of focus to increase the amount of support provided to students. Additional wellness support resources have been added to our website for our co-op students to access. They include provincial support websites as well as resources to help students based on their needs. Current undergraduate and graduate students also have access to Empower Me, a mental health and wellness service which allows them to connect with qualified counsellors, consultants and life coaches for a variety of issues.

Co-op advisors vs. embedded counsellors 

Embedded wellness counsellors provide mental health support for students on recruiting terms, work terms and in preparing for work terms. However, for other support or questions during your work term or finding your next co-op, you can reach out to a co-op advisor. Advisors can also help with finding a place to live or address concerns during your work term and about your co-op job.

Meet the wellness counsellors


 Melissa standing infront of TCAs a University of Waterloo alumnus who has worked at Counselling Services for more than two years, Melissa is looking forward to supporting current students in their endeavors with co-op. She sees the co-op program as a unique experience that allows students to discover and grow, while also acknowledging the challenges and demands that exist.

Melissa works from the framework that our life experiences and emotions can tell us important information about ourselves and play an important role in who we are, where we have been and where we are going. She works with students to help them navigate the university experience, and places an importance on strengths, diversity and values.

She sees the counselling experience as a place where space can be held for students in a safe and collaborative manner. Melissa feels honoured to work with co-op students and be invited into their lives.

A quote Melissa connects with is “for a seed to achieve its greatest expression, it must come completely undone. The shell cracks, its insides come out and everything changes. To someone who doesn’t understand growth it would look like complete destruction.”

When she is not working at counselling services, you will find her out for a run or participating in HIIT workouts. 


Dave standing infront of TCDave graduated from Mohawk College in Child & Youth Care, completed his undergraduate degree in Social Developmental Studies at the University of Waterloo and completed his Master’s Degree in Clinical Social work from Wilfrid Laurier University.  He is from Waterloo Region and lives nearby with his family. 

Dave brings a wealth of experience working with students and faculty from various post-secondary institutions in the role of faculty instructor and counsellor. He also worked with a number of non-profit agencies.

Dave works with students, staff and faculty on the Waterloo Campus in Counseling Services. He is excited about his role in Co-operative Education.

Having worked in Engineering, the School of Accounting and Finance, Stratford Campus and the Student Success Office, he has learned a lot about the ‘student experience.’

Success strategies, personal relationships, mental health challenges, specific study skill techniques and international issues are just some examples of the issues that people work with Dave on. 

He likes to work from a “Success Coaching” model, towards building insight, goal identification and action plans towards academic & personal achievements.  Dave’s greatest reward at work is your success!

If you could benefit from speaking with someone in terms of wellness questions and concerns regarding the co-op experience, reach out to a wellness counsellor today!

  • To book an appointment please call, 519-888-4096 or fill out our contact us form
  • Fall Hours:
    • Monday 8:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m.
    • Tuesday—Friday 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

General emergency contacts

  • UW Police 519-888-4567 ext. 22222
  • or 9-1-1

Crisis and distress lines