Personal Counseling

What goes on in personal counseling?

The exact nature of the counseling experience will vary according to factors such as the nature of the issues a student brings in to counseling and the personality and training of the counselor. In general, counseling involves identifying and building upon an individual's strengths in order to work through a challenge or difficulty. Counseling often involves gaining new insights into oneself, but it may also involve learning new strategies and techniques for coping. Many students find their needs are met after one session with a counselor or that they may benefit from a workshop or group that teaches specific skills. Workshops are usually a 1 hour commitment while groups might meet for 1 hour for about 4-8 sessions.  Individual counseling may be recommended in certain cases and your counselor will work with you to determine the best path. Those sessions are typically 45 to 50 minutes depending on what is needed. Often the work a person does between counseling sessions is a critical part of the success of counseling.

What kinds of issues might a student deal with in personal counseling?

A wide range of issues could be addressed in personal counseling. Many students find it helpful to seek counseling regarding homesickness, adjustment to college, roommate conflicts, or other relationship difficulties. Other examples of issues that a student might bring to personal counseling include coping with grief and loss, adjusting to life after divorce, and recovery after a trauma. Personal counseling also helps individuals work through or better manage depression or anxiety and to learn more effective stress management.

Is there a limit to the number of sessions of personal counseling a student may have?

Counseling Services offers short term counseling.  The majority of students are seen for five sessions or fewer, but students may receive up to 12 individual counseling appointments per academic year.  Group counseling, workshops and psychiatric appointments are not included in this 12 session limit.  At times, a student may be facing a difficulty that requires a much longer course of treatment. In such cases, Counseling Services will help secure referrals to clinicians in the community and will offer support until the connection between student and outside therapist is made. For example, we routinely refer students whose primary issues are Substance Abuse or severe Eating Disorders to off-campus providers, because treatment for these issues tends to be long term and highly specialized. While there are local treatment options for Substance Abuse, there are no residential Eating Disorder treatment facilities in the local area. 

Is counseling confidential?

Yes, with a few exceptions that are described below, counseling is confidential.  The confidential nature of counseling means that your counselor cannot share information about you with your parents, professors, roommates, or other college staff. If you would like for your counselor to communicate with anyone, we will do so with your written permission.  Exceptions to confidentiality include the following:  

If we believe that you pose a life-threatening risk to yourself or someone else, we may share information as necessary to prevent any harm from occurring.  In the event of imminent risk to self or others, voluntary or involuntary hospitalization may also be necessary.  
We are legally required to report information about the current abuse or neglect of a minor, an elderly person or a person with a disability.
In order to provide you with the best care, staff members may consult with or receive supervision from other professional colleagues within Counseling Services.
If you are involved in a legal action and a judge determines that clinical information will provide evidence bearing significantly on the case, the counselor may be mandated to release your records. A counselor may also be required to disclose confidential information as part of a defense against civil, criminal, or disciplinary action.
For purposes of evaluating our services, gathering valuable research information and designing future programs, the counseling services staff may utilize your clinical information. Your anonymity will be maintained by utilizing a client identification number unique to counseling services and by using aggregated data that prevents the exposure of personally identifiable information. 
If you are under the age of 18, your parents or legal guardian(s) must provide consent for us to provide services to you. If you are under 18, your parents or legal guardian(s) may request access to your records and may authorize their release to other parties