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Help, Support and Advice

This may sound not particularly upbeat, but each PhD candidate will experience downs. Writing a thesis is a difficult and quite often lonely endeavor. Moreover, it requires PhD candidates to manage their time and project themselves. The GSH encourages PhD candidates to make a daily schedule and a work plan for the longer term and to invest in self-care, e.g., periods of rest, holidays, social activities or physical exercise. In the unfortunate situation that you encounter mental- or physical health problems or social difficulties during your PhD, please seek help. The Graduate School of Humanities strongly encourages you to reach out, if you think you need help, or would just like to talk to someone.

Independent PhD Advisor/ Coordinator (confidential)

The independent PhD advisor of the Faculty is the first point of contact in the occasion that you encounter any difficulties. You will meet with them at least once a year to discuss your PhD progress and wellbeing. The PhD advisor offers confidential support and coaching and acts as sparring partner and mediator. You can consult the confidential PhD advisor for issues or situations that may be related to inappropriate behaviour, the complex work relationship between PhD candidates and their supervisors influenced by dependency, not receiving feedback in time, false expectations, work atmosphere, (sexual) harassment, discrimination, bullying, aggression and violence. You can talk to your independent PhD advisor freely and confidentially. Take also advantage of their expertise in academia and feel always free to have a chat. The PhD advisor of the Faculty of Humanities is Dr. Nathanja van den Heuvel and can be reached via:

PhD Confidential Advisor

You may find yourself in situations that you cannot or do not want to discuss with the persons involved in your PhD project. For all employees of an institution, it is therefore possible to consult their institution’s confidential advisor (vertrouwenspersoon). The PhD confidential advisor of Faculty of Humanities is Dr. Liesbeth Geudeke and can be reached via, for the VU confidential counselors, see here.

Occupational Social Work (Staff Welfare Office) 

Occupational social work offers advice and short-term counseling of employees who are at risk to get sick for work and/or private reasons.

PhD psychologist

The PhD psychologist is available for all PhD candidates at VU Amsterdam who experience psychological problems during their PhD project. This may include feeling overstressed, feeling depressed or anxious, feeling insecure or not good enough or having problems with assertiveness. The PhD psychologist offers short-term treatment.


If you are a PhD candidate employed by VU Amsterdam, you can contact the occupational health physician.  An appointment is confidential; the occupational health physician is not allowed to report to your manager. If you are not employed by VU Amsterdam as a PhD candidate, you can register at the University General Practice.


Reporting Misconduct and/or Dangerous Situations

Do you suspect misconduct, inappropriate conduct or negligence in areas under the responsibility of VU Amsterdam? And could this situation have a serious impact on society or on VU Amsterdam? You can report this in a safe way via the Whistleblowers' Regulation of VU Amsterdam. In all cases of emergency (accident, emergency, physical threat) that require immediate help and action, always call the internal VU emergency number 22222 or 020 59 82 222.

For more information about help and support for PhD Candidates see VU’s Webpage on Support and Help for PhD candidates.