Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
Students often have questions about our services, what counseling is like, how to schedule appointments, and so forth. We have provided some commonly asked questions and their answers for you here. If you have additional questions or need further clarification, please call us at 478-5541.
What is counseling?
(from The University of Buffalo Counseling Center)
Counseling is a collaborative process which involves the development of a unique, confidential helping relationship. In this relationship, the counselor acts as a facilitator in helping the client to understand more accurately him/herself and the world around him/her. Individuals are helped to understand their feelings and behaviors, their relationships with others, their particular situation, choices, and decisions. Discussion of whatever is important and relevant enables individuals to grow towards greater freedom in making mature choices and taking responsible action with themselves, relationships, family, and studies.
Why do people at Georgia Southern tend to seek counseling/therapy?
The Top 5 Reasons That Students Visit the Counseling Center are:
- Relationship(s) with Others and/or Romantic Relationship Concerns
- Stress Management
- Academic Concerns
What You Should Know About Counseling and Psychotherapy
You have made the first (and most important) step in finding out about counseling and psychotherapy. Whether you came to the GSU Counseling Center as a result of your own decision to seek help, or because someone else told you it might be helpful, it is likely that you have a lot of questions and mixed feelings about the counseling process. Many students have questions and concerns, such as “What should I talk about in my therapy sessions?”, “How long will I have to come for counseling?” and “When will I see improvement?” The purpose of this information is to help answer some of your questions – maybe even questions you didn’t know you had!
Who will I see?
All of the psychologists and counselors at the GSU Counseling Center have received either a doctoral or master’s degree in Counseling or Clinical Psychology. You also may see a master’s-level practicum student, who is being supervised by one of our staff psychologists. Generally, the person you see for your first session at the Counseling Center will continue to work with you if individual or couple’s therapy is recommended. However, if for whatever reason you would prefer to switch to another counselor after your first session, you have every right to make this request!
What happens when I talk with a counselor for the first time?
It is not uncommon for students to be a bit nervous or hesitant when they meet with a counselor for the first time. They sometimes wonder if they are supposed to act a certain way or talk about their deepest secrets. Students often find that after they speak with a counselor, their concerns were unfounded and the experience of getting things “off your chest” was relieving. Your first meeting with one of our psychologists is what we call an “intake.” In this session, your counselor will also ask you some basic questions about such things as academics, work, relationships, family, etc. This is your opportunity to help your counselor get a good idea of the “big picture” regarding your situation. During this session, you can expect at least three things to happen. First, you will have a chance to discuss what you have been experiencing that brought you to a counselor. Second, your counselor will ask you what you want to achieve in counseling. Third, your counselor will present options for helping you reach your goals.
Is what I say in counseling kept confidential?
The staff at the GSU Counseling Center adheres to professional, legal and ethical guidelines set forth by the American Psychological Association. In doing so, we maintain confidential records of all counseling. This means that information about your contact with the Counseling Center does not go on your academic record, nor is it released to any other office or individual without your permission and signature on a written release form. However, there are some rare exceptions to confidentiality. Counselors are mandated to report certain information in which there is possible harm to the client or another person, in cases of child or elder abuse, or in the event of a court order. While these situations can happen,they are very rare. It is important to remember that your counselor’s primary goal is to provide a safe environment in which you will feel comfortable to talk about your personal concerns.
What will I do in counseling?
During (or shortly after) your first appointment, your counselor will provide some recommendations regarding what will likely be helpful in addressing your specific concerns. Recommendations may include any or all of the following: individual counseling, career counseling, couple’s counseling, group counseling, participation in a workshop, medication, and/or referral to another agency on or off campus.
If individual or couple’s counseling is recommended, you can expect to spend the first few sessions discussing the concerns that bring you to therapy and formulating goals that you will work on for the remainder of therapy. During this time, your counselor also will be attempting to get to know you better by asking you questions about your life here at college, your family background, your relationships, and other areas of your life.
Often times, group counseling is the best treatment option for students – particularly if you are dealing with interpersonal issues or relationship concerns, or if you could benefit from peer support. If group counseling is recommended, you will likely meet with the group counselor individually for a “screening session” first so that you can learn more about the group and so that the counselor can learn more about you. A workshop is similar to a group, but typically involves a specific focus (e.g., Anxiety Management) and generally meets for a specified number of sessions.
If career counseling is recommended, you will likely spend anywhere from 3 to 6 sessions exploring your academic and career interests through discussions with your counselor, completing various written and computerized career assessment measures, and researching career options in the Counseling Center resource room.
If you are in the midst of a crisis when you first come to the Counseling Center, time also will be spent during the first few sessions on helping you cope with the crisis. From this point, what you do in your counseling sessions will vary from talking about what is contributing to your problems and exploring potential solutions, to role plays, relaxation training, discussing assigned readings, reviewing homework assignments, etc…
Although what you do in session may change over time, your counselor will discuss each component of therapy with you before deciding how to progress. After some time in individual or couple’s counseling, other treatment recommendations may be made, such as joining a group or participating in a workshop. When you have met many or all of your therapy goals, you and your counselor will make a decision about ending therapy. The last few sessions are a time to review your progress, make future plans, and discuss your experiences with counseling.
When will my counseling sessions take place?
Individual and couple’s therapy sessions typically last for 45-50 minutes and may be scheduled weekly, bi-weekly, or less frequently, depending on the nature of your presenting concerns, what stage you are at in the therapy process, and how busy the Counseling Center is (the mid-term and end of semester time periods tend to be busiest). Groups and workshops also meet weekly and generally last for 60-90 minutes. You should plan on coming early or on-time for your scheduled appointments! Regular and on-time attendance of counseling sessions is critical for ensuring that you reach your therapy goals. In addition, if you miss more than 3 scheduled appointments (of any type) per semester, your services may be terminated!
How long will I be in counseling?
Obviously, this is ultimately up to you. However, depending on your therapy goals, brief counseling (from 3-5 sessions) or more long-term counseling (up to 12 sessions per year, for one or more academic years) may be more effective. Regardless of how long you participate in therapy, your counselor will revisit your therapy goals with you on a regular basis and you will decide together when it makes sense to end therapy.
When will I start to feel better?
Many people report that counseling is helpful even with the first session. This may be due to feeling good about having made a decision to get help or the relief that comes from being able to discuss your concerns with someone who is understanding and non-judgmental. Long-lasting relief from problems comes more gradually and is the result of making changes in your life, relationships, thoughts, and behavior. There is no definitive time schedule for these improvements. However, you should share with your counselor if you have noticed no improvement after working in therapy for several months or more. The good news is that research has repeatedly demonstrated that therapy works, as long as clients take an active part in the counseling process.
If I go see a counselor, does that mean I’m “crazy?”
Not at all! That someone has to be “crazy” to see a counselor is an unfortunate myth that is still prevalent in our society. At the Counseling Center, we see students because they have concerns about a variety of things, most of which are very common or “normal” sorts of concerns. Even some of the more serious mental health issues are fairly common in our society. For instance, clinical depression will affect approximately 1 in 4 women and 1 in 9 or 10 men in a lifetime, and 19 million Americans each year. Anxiety is just as common, if not more so. Feeling overwhelmed by stress seems to be an experience we all have from time to time.
Last updated: 12/23/2016