THE territory's first student counselling team to comprise tertiary students has been set up at the City Polytechnic of Hong Kong. The group will counsel other students and promote self-help concepts. The young counsellors, who are of varying ages and come from different departments, have been trained in basic interpersonal and counselling techniques by the polytechnic's Personal Development Centre. The centre, which officially opened last month, encourages students with personal and emotional problems to drop in for guidance or counselling. The institute's senior counsellor, Mr Leung Siu-tong, said that so far the centre had recruited and trained over 30 students. ''Peer counsellors are a common feature in secondary schools, but not in tertiary institutes. People think tertiary students are mature enough to handle their own problems,'' Mr Leung said. ''But, in fact, this is not the case. We find that many of the students feel lost in the new study environment. It takes them a long time to adjust.'' But despite their problems, most students refused to seek help from school counsellors, he added. ''They think there's a stigma to visiting a counselling centre. Only final year students tend to call over, and that's only for career information,'' he said. In order to encourage more students to approach counsellors, the institute had dropped the traditional passive counselling method and instead created a place where callers can feel relaxed, Mr Leung said. ''The centre is open on weekdays from 10 am to noon, and 2.30 pm to 4 pm. Students can come with their classmates to use our resources. ''We have reference books, video and audio tapes, computer-assisted guidance programmes and pamphlets on different topics. Visitors can borrow the materials and help themselves,'' he said. Besides the ''drop-in'' sessions, there are also small group discussions and activities during lunch time and after 4 pm. Mr Leung said the centre was promoting a ''Holistic Wellness'' model that divides human development into several areas - spiritual, social, emotional, intellectual, physical and occupational. ''We advise students to analyse themselves in these areas and try to understand themselves better.'' The centre, which started operations two months ago, is attracting many callers, especially first year students. ''They come to us when they have personal problems and want practical advice, and also whenever they are free and want to learn more about themselves.'' Although tertiary students usually appeared to be fully occupied, with studies and part-time jobs, many were willing to give some time to helping out with counselling work, Mr Leung said. He hoped more students would be attracted to the new counselling method and that other tertiary institutions would follow their lead.