Common Student Concerns about Counseling
A Guide for Faculty, Staff, and Advisors
Students often have a number of concerns about counseling and seeking assistance that, if not directly discussed, can deter them from acting upon a referral. It is useful to anticipate these issues and respond to them in a factual, encouraging, and appropriate way.
Concern 1: Only crazy people go to counseling (and I’m not crazy).
Response: I don’t think you are crazy. People go to counseling for all kinds of problems. Counseling Services sees hundreds of students a year for individual, couples and group counseling.
Concern 2: Going for counseling is a sign of weakness. It shows I can’t handle my own problems.
Response: You are capable of handling most of your problems. There are some, however, that are difficult to handle alone. Recognizing when you need assistance, and then getting it, is a sign of good problem-solving ability.
Concern 3: Counseling won’t work for me. It’s not effective. I've done it before.
Response: It's true that there are no guaranteed results. However, there is a high probability that counseling can be helpful. It has worked for a large number of students and it could work for you. Give it a try. Even if it hasn't helped before, sometimes the right timing and/or counselor can be really helpful.
Concern 4: The counselor will tell other people about my problem.
Response: What you share with a counseling staff member is considered confidential. Information is not released to anyone (parents, friends, instructors) without your permission.
The First Visit to Counseling
Students who have not been to counseling may want to know what happens on a first visit to the Health and Counseling Center (HCC). We follow a uniform set of procedures which make up our intake process (called an Initial Consultation):
- The student completes a detailed personal information/history form and statement of informed consent that describes the intake process, confidentiality, and other procedures.
- The student is introduced to an HCC Counseling Services staff member who will conduct the initial interview, which takes anywhere from 45 minutes to one hour. All counseling is conducted in private offices.
- The counseling staff will help the student explore what brought them to the HCC and what they would like to achieve in counseling. With the information gathered, the HCC staff will decide, together with the student, the best course of action to address their concerns.
- At the conclusion of the Initial Consultation, the counseling staff member will discuss our recommendations and options about how to best address the student's needs. For example, we may suggest a student meet regularly (usually on a weekly basis for 50 minutes) with the staff member with whom the student had their intake appointment. Other options include referral to another HCC staff member and/or group counseling at the HCC or referral to a mental health professional or agency in the community.
The Counseling Process
There are a variety of approaches to the counseling process. In general, counseling is a healing process that takes place within an atmosphere of acceptance, respect, and trust. Counselors work collaboratively with clients to help them understand their feelings, thoughts, behaviors, and emotions. An overriding goal of counseling is to help clients identify personal strengths and develop ways to live their lives more fully.
The HCC espouses a "short term" counseling model with a 10 session limit, and most students' needs are quite adequately addressed within that time frame. Students who require longer term counseling are connected with community resources to meet their needs.
Professional ethics dictate that the sessions conducted by HCC Counseling Services staff are confidential in nature. Information about these sessions or their content will be released only (a) upon a student's written request, (b) in circumstances which would result in clear danger to the individual or others, or as may be required by law. The Health and Counseling Center adheres strictly to this policy.
Faculty and staff members often have an understandable desire to know if a student who has been referred to the HCC has actually attended a session and/or if any progress is being made. However, we cannot acknowledge any contact with a student, or lack of it, unless we have their written permission.
This policy can at times be a source of frustration for faculty and staff who want some basic information. This desired information can best be obtained directly from the student. We also encourage students to let the referring faculty and staff member know that he/she kept an appointment. Students are not bound by the promise of confidentiality and are therefore free to disclose any information they wish to share.
Making an Appointment
Health and Counseling Center
Ritchie Center, 3rd floor, North Entrance
8 AM to 5 PM, Monday to Friday. ** We open on Tuesdays at 9 AM, due to our weekly staff meeting.
Appointment times are available each day for urgent/crisis mental health situations. Availability
may be limited and calls are taken on a first come, first serve basis.
- Contact the Health and Counseling Center (303-871-2205) on weekdays between 8 AM (9 on Tuesdays) and 5 PM.
- After hours, call Campus Safety (303-871-3000), who will page the Counselor-on-Call.
- In cases of acute risk of violent behavior, always contact and inform Campus Safety of this threat.