Counseling Frequently Asked Questions
When Should You Make a Referral?
Stress is a natural part of life. Our ability to cope with stress, however, varies depending upon the severity and amount of stress, the cultivation of coping skills, the strength of our emotional support system, or prior experience in dealing with similar situations. Fortunately as our society has expanded its view of what is normal, counseling no longer carries the stigma it once did. Students seek counseling for a variety of reasons, including academic difficulties, depression, anxiety, family and relationship issues, physical or sexual abuse, substance dependence, and existential concerns. In general, you should consider referring students for counseling if their problems have compromised their ability to function academically, personally or socially, or to take pleasure in life. Of course, some students are not forthcoming about their problems; with more reticent students you may observe behaviors that indicate their distress, such as frequently missed classes, social withdrawal, crying in your office, or disturbing material in academic assignments. If you are in doubt about whether or not to refer a student to counseling, or would like suggestions on how to approach a particular student, please call the Counseling Center and speak with one of our staff.
What If A Student Is Reluctant To Seek Help?
While it is important to care about the emotional well being of students, we cannot make their decisions for them, and counseling is always a personal choice. Nevertheless, we can assist a student who is ambivalent about seeking professional help in a number of ways. One way is to normalize the process of seeking help; this may be especially helpful for international students whose countries may not have similar views of psychological counseling. Students may be reassured that their problems need not reach crisis proportions for them to benefit from professional help. Any contact and information shared by the student is kept strictly confidential within the Counseling Center and will not be disclosed to parents, faculty, or other University departments, except with the the student's written permission or when there is a clear, imminent danger to self or others. Finally, it is important acknowledge, validate, and discuss the students' real fears and concerns about seeking help. While some students may feel that to seek counseling is an admission of weakness or failure, in fact, it takes considerable courage and integrity to face oneself and acknowledge one's limitations.
What Happens When A Student Visits the Counseling Center For the First Time?
When a student first comes in, they are typically scheduled for a Brief Phone Assessment. This is just a brief phone call with a therapist who will evaluate the nature and severity of the problem, and together with the student, determine a course of action such as scheduling a longer In-Person Assessment or providing referrals to community resources. For those who come in for assessment meetings, the therapist will help decide with the student whether a few problem solving sessions, individual or couples counseling, group therapy, or referral to another university or community resource would be best. Individual and couples counseling generally is offered on a short-term basis (i.e., one to ten sessions).
How Long Must Students Wait to Receive Therapy?
Students in crisis will receive immediate care. Otherwise, appointments are scheduled as soon as possible given the student's availability, concerns and resources. The Counseling Center is busiest at the end of each term and at the end of the year, and scheduling may be more difficult. As such, there is no typical timeline. Sometimes students are seen within a week, but other times it can take much longer. In these cases, the student's therapist from the phone or in-person assessment can direct them to community resources or suggest a community referral if the student has insurance.
What Resources and Services Can be Found at the Counseling Center?
Each term the Counseling Center offers a range of therapy groups which focus on such topics as eating disorders, alcohol/drug recovery, sexual orientation, the struggles of older students, graduate students, and international students, as well as sexual abuse and assault. Please consult our listing of current group offerings. We also provide workshops and presentations for various campus organizations, and consult with administrators, faculty, and staff who are dealing with student problems. When the Counseling Center is not open, the main office line becomes an After-Hours Support and Crisis Line for students. The Counseling Center operates a substantial training program, including pre-doctoral and pre-masters internships. Our Testing Center coordinates all nationally administered tests, offers placement and waiver tests, and credit by exam.