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Coping with Conflicts and Challenges

While pursuing your doctoral degree you may experience professional conflicts as well as personal challenges.

Freie Universität Berlin provides advisory and counseling services to all its members, including doctoral candidates and researchers. In the following sections you will find a short overview of possible problems and information on how to obtain help.

What constitutes sexual or other forms of harassment?

  • Sexist remarks, jokes, innuendoes or taunting about a person's body, appearance;
  • Leering, ogling or other sexually oriented gestures;
  • Unwanted sexual teasing, jokes, remarks, or questions;
  • Displaying of pornographic or other sexually offensive or derogatory pictures or material;
  • Unwanted pressure for sexual favors;
  • Unwelcome sexual advances or bodily conduct;
  • Persistent and unwelcome invitations;
  • Inappropriate touching and sexual assault.

Contacts & Support Services


  • Employees should report instances of possible sexual harassment or gender discrimination to the Gender Equality Officer or one of the other above mentioned support services.
  • If you witness sexual harassment you may address the victim and if appropriate, give reference to the above mentioned support services.   
  • A Sexual Harassment Complaint Process describing the steps to be followed for reporting and handling complaints has not yet been established. Because sexual harassment and gender discrimination may involve a wide range of behaviors, the way in which a given case is best handled will vary.
  • The highest possible degree of confidentiality shall be maintained regarding all allegations, inquiries and investigations and all persons involved. 
  • No action will be taken without the permission of the victim.
For more information, contact the Working Group against Sexual Harassment at the Gender Equality Office

Common concerns are:

  • lack of motivation and difficulties in setting priorities and decision-making;
  • speaking and exam anxiety;
  • writer’s block;
  •  learning disabilities und procrastination;
  • stress, depression and overload caused by excessive demands;
  • seeking professional help.

Contacts & Services

The Center for Academic Advising and Psychological Counseling provides confidential individual counseling and support, training and workshops. The staff includes licensed psychological psychotherapists as well as counseling psychologists in training.  The counselor takes reasonable steps to establish and maintain the confidentiality of information arising from service delivery.

Contact Counseling and Psychological Services for further information.

For its DRS postdoctoral fellows as well as other doctoral candidates, DRS also offers the opportunity for a first professional conflict coaching session at reduced cost (30,-€ contribution toward expenses). Priority is given to members of DRS doctoral programs. To make use of this service, please send a request to beratung@drs.fu-berlin.de with the subject "conflict coaching" and briefly outline the kind of conflict (supervision, publication, teaching, or the like) you are experiencing. The DRS will then connect you with our professional conflict coach.

Should you experience any other kind of conflict that is not covered by the above, please don't hesitate to contact the team of Dahlem Research School at beratung@drs.fu-berlin.de.