What is the philosophy of Counseling Services?
Counseling Services is designed for short-term intervention and referral. Most students who seek counseling are seen for one semester or less and come in to deal with a specific problem or issue. Students who present a counselor with a very serious issue may require long-term treatment or who may need medication are referred to off-campus services although they may continue to receive support from an on-campus counselor. Occasionally, because of logistical issues, such as transportation or insurance, a student will be seen over a longer period of time until off-campus services can be arranged. The focus of counseling is health and wellness. Students' strengths' are utilized to assist them in dealing with the problems they are discussing.
What types of issues do students bring to Counseling Services?
Students come in to the counseling service with a wide range of issues. At the start of a term, students are generally referred for issues of anxiety, homesickness or adjustment to the university. Throughout the semester Counseling Services assists many students referred for academic difficulty related to substance use or stress. Students self refer for depression, anxiety, relationship issues, and family problems. Occasionally, students are referred due to uncharacteristic behavior and unusual thinking. The severity of the symptoms, the student's wishes and logistical issues are all considered when making a decision to either refer the student to off-campus resources or continue to see them in the Wellness Center.
There is a Licensed Alcohol and Drug Counselor (LADC) on staff who is available to work with students who have identified that substances have interfered with parts of their life or to help students who want to further examine their relationship with substances (food, alcohol, other drugs).
What is the process and who would a student see? Is what a client says confidential?
Students can call or walk in to make an appointment. A student who walks in may see a counselor immediately, if someone is available, or given an appointment time. When a client comes for the initial appointment they will be asked to complete some paperwork. Information shared is confidential except in instances as required by law as described in the paperwork.
Why aren't counselors available at night and on weekends?
In the Wellness Center, counseling is provided by three full-time salaried staff, who are required to cover the office during hours of operation and to conduct evening and weekend programs as needed for training and educational purposes. Counselors are available evenings by appointment, but, limitations in funding and personnel prohibit additional evening hours or weekend hours. (Note: The same situation applies to Health Services staff).
Public Safety and Residence Life Staff have phone numbers to access the Coordinator of Counseling Services at home on weekends. If the counselor is at home and available she will respond to evening or weekend emergencies. However, if she is not available, a student in the greater Manchester area can contact the 24 hour crisis line at the Greater Manchester Mental Health Center (603 668-4111) and obtain services through their Emergency Services Department. Students outside of the Greater Manchester area can access services through their local Community Mental Health Center.
Are the staff aware of the role and purpose counseling plays in different cultures?
All counselors are aware of cultural differences in accepting and understanding the role and purpose of counseling. In dealing with these students the staff believe it is important to be educated about differences and to let the students take the lead in identifying their comfort level with different styles of counseling and different interventions.
How can a staff person/faculty member find out if a student they referred attended counseling?
It can be very frustrating to refer a student to Counseling Services and not know if they attended. It is important for the Counseling Services staff to maintain students' confidentiality about issues which bring them to counseling; however, if the counselor has been notified by a staff or faculty member that they have made a referral every effort is made when the student comes in to get them to sign a Release of Information Form. This consent allows the counselor to inform the referral source that the student did follow through though it does not allow the counselor to discuss the details of the student's visit.
When making a referral to Counseling Services it is useful to call and speak to a counselor to let them know about the referral since it gives the counseling staff the information they need to initiate the Release of Information Form.