My Annual Recommendation for the Counseling Center

We had a wonderful, whirlwind weekend of Move-In and Orientation for our new students.  It was a hot one, but we were so happy to see all our new ’20s and P’20s, as well as see our upperclassmen students and their families.  Classes start tomorrow, so there is one more day off for our students to buy their books, find their classrooms, and hang out with friends before the real work begins.

Program note: for those of you that are P’20s – parents or family members of freshmen in the Class of 2020 – we have started our series of Weekly Messages for First-Year Families.  You can access the full text of each weekly message by clicking on the gold words in the title.

Today is full of academic advising for me.  If you have a freshman, he/she will be meeting with his/her assigned academic adviser today to discuss the course schedule, any potential conflicts or changes, possible majors (for the few that may already know), etc.  It’s also a time for the adviser and the student to get to know each other better and figure out what they want from their advising relationship.

In my small group meeting with all the advisees, I typically tell them to forgive me if at some point during our advising relationship, I recommend that they consider getting support for themselves. That support could be academic, or personal, or emotional. But nearly everyone will find themselves in a spot where they feel stressed out, or they aren’t sleeping well, or they find themselves worried about their performance in a class, or are anxious in general or whatever. And rather than just suffer that alone, my goal is to make sure that student knows there are ample resources that can help them work through it. So let’s talk about the University Counseling Center (UCC).

The UCC offers a full set of resources for students. The one students most often think of might be individual therapy. Over the years, I have found that many students I’ve worked with had not been in a therapy situation and did not know what to expect, so with the help of my very fine colleague Dr. James Raper, we drafted a kind of “what to expect” series of blog posts.  Read Part 1 and Part 2 online.

The UCC also created some Myths vs. Facts about their office, which might be helpful for families to know.  They are listed below.

Parents and families, encourage your students to seek out any help they need, at any time. Self-care is smart.

WFU Counseling Center Myths and Facts

Myth: Sometimes students have to wait a month to be seen.

Fact: The Counseling Center is able to see new first time clients within an average of 5 days.

Myth: Students can only be seen for 30 minute appointments every 3 weeks.

Fact: The frequency of sessions is discussed between clinician and client. Frequency is based on presenting concern, level of severity, and desired goals. Sometimes students will need to be seen for a few weeks in a row before reducing frequency, and sometimes it’s more appropriate to have a session every two weeks over a longer period of time.

Myth: If a student is having a personal crisis/emergency it is difficult to meet with someone the same day.

Fact: The UCC has daily triage appointments available for same-day visits for students in crisis. Front desk staff are trained to ask about whether or not a person is experiencing an emergency or crisis situation when attempting to schedule same day appointments. UCC staff also accommodate students for walk-in crisis services.

Myth: If students request to see a clinician after-hours one might not always be available.

Fact: The UCC provides 24 hour on-call emergency service during the fall and spring semester when school is in session. Students can access the on call clinician by presenting at or calling Student Health and requesting to speak to the clinician on call. The clinician will conduct an initial assessment over the phone and following that may meet with the student at Student Health Service for a face to face follow up.

Myth: If a student is concerned about another student the Counseling Center won’t get involved. 

Fact: The University Counseling Center provides consultation for faculty, staff, and students who are concerned and want guidance in intervening with a community member they are concerned about. Information in the consultation could include how to approach someone you are concerned about and how to facilitate a referral. Our website also has a section on how to help a friend.

 

Timeline of Your First Visit at the UCC

We know sometimes even getting to us can be a challenge with tight class schedules, athletic commitments, or not feeling comfortable with the idea of counseling. If there is a barrier we can help you overcome we would be happy to do that. If you’re not sure you want to engage in a counseling relationship right away, call and ask to set up a consult appointment, and we can talk with you about the counseling process to see if it what is right for you right now. Let’s say you call for an appointment and get scheduled for 4:15 on Wednesday. Here’s a look at what will happen once you arrive at the UCC.

First Visit:

  • Check in for your 4:15 appointment with Ebony or Rachel at the front desk.

4:15-4:30

  • They will hand you an informed consent and an iPad to complete some paperwork.
  • Fill out a demographic questionnaire
  • Complete an electronic assessment of overall mental health. This will be confidential and kept between you and your clinician.

4:30-5

  • Clinician reviews informed consent and confidentiality
  • Clinician reviews the assessment with you and gives you an opportunity to talk about what brings you in
  • Clinician asks additional questions about your current functioning (sleeping and eating habits, concentration, etc.
  • You and clinician discuss your goals and make a plan for what should happen next. This could include setting up another appointment, being referred to group therapy, connecting with an off-campus provider, referral to additional campus resources or a combination of these.
— by Betsy Chapman
for questions or comments about the Daily Deac, email parents@nullwfu.edu

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