All counselors at GC Counseling Services are licensed mental health professionals, or are working under supervision to gain the experience required for licensure. We follow the ethical standards of the American Counseling Association and the American Psychological Association.
Counseling is a voluntary activity. If you have been "sent" to counseling by someone in the university community, we'll talk about why you were sent, the goals that YOU have in coming in, and how you might achieve those goals. You may always choose not to participate in counseling, although this might have specific consequences, depending on your situation.
Overall, counseling is a developmental process. This suggests that clients are "stuck" in solving some issue or concern that arises in the normal course of their development. It's not the counselor's job to "fix" the client, but to help him or her explore issues, understand problem-solving strategies, and develop ways to apply those strategies to change their current situations.
We expect you to keep scheduled appointments. If you are unable to keep an appointment, we would like for you to contact us to let us know that you won't be here. This allows us to offer the time to another student. If we are unable to keep a scheduled appointment, our office manager will try to contact you (if you have given us permission to do so on your intake form) in advance. If she is unable to reach you, she will help you reschedule the appointment when you come in. If you repeatedly miss scheduled appointments, you could lose priority for scheduling, and might even lose your privilege of seeing a counselor.
If you have an emergency – that is, you're worried that you might soon hurt yourself or someone else – say so when you contact us. We will cancel scheduled appointments to help if you have this sort of an emergency.
What You Can Do to Make Counseling More Effective
You can do a number of things to help make counseling a positive experience for you. Probably the most important is to be open and honest with your counselor. This includes honesty about your life in general, and about how counseling is going for you. If you have concerns about the process, it's important to discuss them with your counselor so that they can be resolved.
Counseling is about changing your current ways of doing things when those ways aren't working well. You can get the most from counseling if you are willing to try new approaches to situations. No one expects you to be perfect, but if you aren't willing to try new things, you probably won't see much change in your life.
Think about your goals in coming to counseling. If you're not sure, we can explore what you might want from counseling. While we can help you achieve goals, we want to insure that you're going in directions that you find valuable.
Your Privacy and Protection
Assuring your privacy is very important to us and the confidentiality of the counseling relationship is protected by law; however, there are a few rare exceptions to confidentiality, which your counselor will discuss with you before beginning. The confidential nature of counseling ensures that your counselor cannot, for example, share information about you with your parents, professors, roommates, or other college staff. If you would like for your counselor to communicate with anyone, you can give your explicit, written permission for her/him to do so; otherwise, counseling is confidential.
If your counselor or any counseling services staff see you outside of counseling, we will not initiate a conversation with you, though we might acknowledge you (as we would for anyone we pass on the sidewalk). If you speak with us first, we will be happy to talk with you. This will allow you to maintain control over confidentiality.
You may contact us by e-mail, but it is not a secure medium. We do not do "e-mail counseling," and will not discuss confidential or sensitive information in an email. We discourage you from disclosing anything in an e-mail that you consider to be private. Counselors are sometimes off campus, so there is no guarantee that your e-mail will be read and answered immediately.
In order to protect you and the counseling relationship, we avoid situations in which we would have more than one kind of relationship with you, such as being both your teacher and your counselor. We also avoid those situations in which we already have a relationship with someone connected to you, such as your close friend or family member. To protect that person's confidentiality, we might not be able to give you specific information about the other relationship. Additionally, we avoid business or personal relationships with you outside the counseling setting. Finally, we might refer you to off-campus resources if we believe that they would best serve your needs. Feel free to discuss this with your counselor if you have questions.