Frequently Asked Questions & Common myths
Frequently Asked Questions
What is counseling and how can it help?
Counseling is a personalized experience and will be unique for each student, however in general, counseling is a collaborative process which involves the development of a unique, confidential, helping relationship. In a college counseling center, the counselor acts as a facilitator in helping the student to solve problems and feel better. The counselor will listen closely to understand the student’s experience and unique circumstance and then together the counselor and student will work toward achieving the student’s personal goals.
Talking about what is important and impacting someone, in a supportive and safe environment allows a person to gain insight, enable personal growth, and feel supported with their concerns. Through discussion the student can better understand their feelings and thoughts, as well as learn skills and techniques that help students overcome the obstacles and challenges they are currently facing.
What kind of concerns do students bring to the counseling center?
No concern is too small or too big. We are here to help with any issue that is causing distress or impacting your college experience. Click here to see common areas of concern for students seeking counseling.
I have tried counseling in the past and it was not beneficial, how will this time be any different?
The single best predictor of whether counseling will feel helpful is whether you and the counselor are a good fit. Some counselor’s personality and style are better suited to certain clients. Don’t give up, you may need to try a couple different counselors before you find the best fit, but it’s worth the effort!
What can I expect when I come in for my first appointment?
You will be greeted by a staff member at the front desk and asked to complete the intake form. A counselor will then meet with you in their office where you can talk confidentially about your concerns. You will work together to clarify your needs and wants and identify a plan on how to improve your situation, usually this means setting up additional counseling sessions but can also can include campus and/or community referrals.
How many sessions would I attend? How long and how often are sessions?
As mentioned previously, no two situations or experiences are the same, so the length and frequency are going to vary for each student. Some students only need or want a few sessions; other students may need or want more long-term counseling which can be weeks, months, or even years. Typically sessions are weekly to start but often titrate as counseling progresses. Each session is 50 minutes.
Will you share information with my parents, professors, coach, advisor, etc.?
The American Psychological Association Code of Ethics and PA state law considers the personal information you discuss in counseling to be confidential, therefore the counseling center strictly protects the confidentiality of information shared during sessions, as well as the attendance to any counseling service. This means that no record of counseling is made on an academic transcript, and that information regarding your counseling is not released without your written permission to anyone. There are some exceptions to confidentiality, however. If there is a possibility of harm to yourself or another person, or in cases of child or elderly abuse, counseling center staff are mandated to report certain information to appropriate authorities. Confidentiality will be discussed in the first session but can be discussed at any session if you have questions or concerns.
Common Counseling Myths
Something is wrong with me or I am weak if I seek help from a Counselor?
Truth: Students seek counseling every day for a variety of concerns. Everyone can benefit from having someone to talk to in a safe, nonjudgmental atmosphere. Furthermore, reaching out and asking for help takes courage. In fact, we believe seeking support is a sign of perseverance and strength.
Counseling will fix my problems and I will better right away.
Truth: The goal of counseling is not for someone else to “fix” your problem. The counselors are here to help you identify concerns and to set goals for yourself. Solving those problems may involve working with your therapist to explore your feelings, thoughts, and behaviors. In doing so, you can explore your options and make a decision for how to best achieve your goals. YOU are the best one to fix your problems!
A Counselor cannot understand what I am going through, because they are not going through it themselves.
Truth: Every person is unique and to completely understand someone else’s situation or experience is difficult. However, the Counselors have been trained to learn about, be sensitive to, and respectful of the unique experiences of each client. Those experiences may include concerns related to gender, age, cultural background, racial/ethnic differences, sexual orientation, gender identity, family-of-origin, or socioeconomic issues. Counselors do not have to personally identify with a student’s background or issues to provide professional, clinical help.