Frequently Asked Questions
What kinds of concerns do students bring to the center?
Students come to the Counseling Center with a variety of concerns. Many are personal concerns about relationship problems, stress, assertiveness, low self-esteem, anxiety, depression, body image, or eating disorders. Some students seek counseling in response to a traumatic event in their lives, such as the death of a loved one, rape or sexual abuse, or thoughts of suicide. Still other students may use our services for concerns that have to do with academic issues such as time management, low motivation, conflicts with an instructor, anxiety around test-taking, speech or performance anxiety, or math anxiety. Concerns about impending graduation and future uncertainty are other reasons some students visit the Counseling Center.
How much does counseling cost?
The services of the Counseling Center are free. Students enrolled for 6 or more credits are eligible to use our services.
What happens in counseling?
Your counselor will probably begin by asking you to talk about the reasons you have come in for counseling. At the first appointment, counselors usually ask some standard intake questions to help gain a more complete picture of your situation and concerns. Counselors may help you to "tell your story," explore your feelings, and further your understanding of yourself or others. Your counselor may encourage you to identify some goals for change, broaden your perspectives, or experiment with new skills and behaviors. Students are also encouraged to participate in one of our workshops or groups.
Although a good deal of learning at Western occurs in the classroom, in counseling, the learning is about yourself, who you are and where you are going with your life, how to manage emotions, or how to resolve or cope with internal or interpersonal conflicts.
In our Center, we provide counseling using proven time-effective approaches. Most students complete counseling within one to four sessions. We are not able to provide long-term, individual psychotherapy. Because of our time-limited approach, your role as a client is to join your counselor in identifying the most central, specific problem or problems you wish to resolve, and then actively engage in the process of working on them. Our goal is to see these problems resolved or brought under control so that you can move forward in your life.
You are making a considerable investment of your time, money and effort toward obtaining a college degree. Our mission is to assist you in that effort whenever psychological issues occur that impair your performance or impede your progress toward that goal and to contribute to your personal psychological development. In the event our services are needed, we hope that you will not hesitate to call on us.
Is there a limit on how much counseling I can receive?
Many factors affect what level of service a student receives through the Counseling Center, including the urgency of your situation, your specific concerns, and the availability of counselors and other resources. When individual counseling would appear to be helpful, your counselor will focus on brief, time-effective strategies for identifying and achieving personal goals. After one or more sessions of individual counseling, most issues can be further addressed through counseling workshops and groups. For students desiring longer-term individual counseling, a different counseling approach, or a specialization not available at the Counseling Center, we can assist with appropriate referrals in the community.
Students have unlimited use of psycho-educational classes, workshops, and counseling groups offered by the Counseling Center. While students may express some initial hesitancy about attending, group counseling can offer exceptional opportunities for support and exploration.
What do I do if I have to miss an appointment?
If you have to miss your appointment, it is very important for you to cancel it 24 hours in advance if at all possible. If you cancel within less than 24 hours, it is less likely that we can recover that appointment hour by offering it to another person in need of our services. Counseling appointments are a precious commodity--please help keep our services efficient and timely for all students. However, if you are ill, advance cancellations are usually not possible. Please reschedule your appointment by phone if you are ill, rather than trying to make the appointment.
What rights do I have as a client?
Counseling is voluntary and you have the right to refuse counseling or to leave at any time. You may ask to change counselors at any time. Your counselor will be happy to discuss with you his or her theoretical or therapeutic orientation and the proposed treatment within our brief counseling model, including any risks, requirements, or expectations that might exist. You have the right to receive care which is nondiscriminatory. You have the right to confidentiality.
We keep a record of the services we provide you. You may ask to see and receive a copy of that record. You also may ask us to correct that record if you find it to be in error. We will not disclose your record to others unless you direct us to do so, or unless the law authorizes or compels us to do so (see below). You may see your record or get more information about it by asking your counselor or the Director.
We are accountable for our work with you. If you have concerns about your counselor or the course of counseling, we encourage you to discuss them first with your counselor. You also may talk about them with the Director of the Counseling Center, the Assistant Vice-President or Vice-President of the Division of Enrollment and Student Affairs. You may contact the licensing board of the state, the Department of Health, or the ethics boards of any of a variety of professional organizations such as the American Psychological Association or the American Counseling Association.
Is my information confidential? Is it ever shared or released to others?
The Counseling Center has a strong commitment to each client's right of confidentiality. Strict confidentiality is maintained except under certain very specific circumstances. Information may be shared between counselors on the staff or with other health care providers within Counseling, Health and Wellness Services and with the campus dietitian when needed to provide the best coordinated care. A legal obligation to release information about you or your counseling occurs when your counselor believes that you are at serious risk of harming yourself or someone else, when a counselor has reason to believe that abuse or neglect of a child or dependent adult may be occurring, or when a court of law compels a release of information by subpoena. Otherwise, information can be released only if you sign a form which authorizes a release and specifies what information is to be released.
In addition to the ethical and legal obligation of counselors to protect confidentiality, special care is given to instructing all our staff in the requirements of confidentiality. Persons who work in the Counseling Center in any of these capacities may not reveal the name of a client who has come to the Counseling Center, nor discuss that client's presence in any way that could cause the client's identity to be discerned.
What is my role as a client?
Your main responsibilities are to attend your scheduled individual and/or group sessions with a commitment to learning about yourself, how you relate to others, and how you can make changes in your life to reach your desired goals. Giving thought to what you would like to gain from counseling is important in setting those goals, an early step in the process. While your counselor may assist you in formulating your goals and developing a plan for meeting them, you will benefit most from entering counseling with a commitment to actively making positive changes in your life. You may find it helpful to note circumstances, relationships, or events in your life that are troubling or create problems for you. Your counselor may ask you to consider the process by which these situations negatively affect you and may encourage you to try a new strategy or to experiment with different approaches to help you achieve the positive change you are seeking. For counseling to be most effective it is important that you are willing to challenge yourself to follow through on implementing the strategies and skills you are learning. Open communication is important to forming an effective partnership with your counselor. Let him or her know when your problems are improving as well as when you don't feel like you are making the progress you desire.
If you are unable to keep a scheduled appointment it is important that you notify the Counseling Center with at least 24 hours notice. This allows us to offer your appointment time to another student.
Can I get special accommodations if I have test anxiety?
Students with academic accommodation needs must initiate a request for services through disAbility Resources for Students. Students with disAbilities are required, by law, to provide written documentation of their disAbility (from a qualified professional) before services can be provided. While “test anxiety” is not something for which an accommodation is usually given, we encourage students who experience anxiety in testing and other performance situations to seek help through the Counseling Center. Through workshops, self-help materials, and possibly a session with a counselor, students can develop strategies and skills for keeping themselves calm and clear-thinking in these potentially stressful situations. Check out our video on test anxiety here.