About the Counseling Center
The Counseling Center is staffed by competent, experienced mental health professionals who, as part of the larger University community, are dedicated to the personal, social, and academic development of all JMU students. To accomplish this goal, the Center provides counseling services within a developmental, proactive, and outreach-oriented framework. The Counseling Center is fully accredited by the International Association of Counseling Services (IACS) and adheres to the highest standards of ethical conduct as outlined by the American Psychological Association (APA), the American Counseling Association (ACA), the laws of the Commonwealth of Virginia, and the internal governing policies of James Madison University.
The primary focus of the Counseling Center mission is to provide the highest quality individual and group counseling to students struggling with problems common to a college population, and we serve as an assessment and referral source for students with more serious and chronic psychological difficulties. The Center also engages in active outreach efforts that focus on the prevention of problems and that maximize the potential of all students to benefit from the academic environment and experience. The Center is committed to collaborating and partnering with other Student Affairs units and University divisions, serving as consultants to our educational colleagues on psychological matters, and playing an integral role in the management of emergencies and crises affecting our students. The Center further enhances the educational mission of the University by integrating the training of new mental health professionals within the provision and evaluation of counseling services.
To provide a safe, supportive, trusting, and confidential environment which empowers students to develop the awareness, values, and skills they will need to meet future challenges and lead vital, meaningful lives.
We are committed to the continued development of awareness and appreciation for individual differences within our diverse university community. We strive to promote inclusion and to affirm diversity in its broadest sense by fostering an emotionally safe and respectful environment.
Scope of Care
Issues Commonly Addressed in Individual Counseling at the CC
When appropriate, students may be referred to services offered within the CC. Due to the high demand for our services, the CC operates according to a short-term treatment model under which the student and the clinician collaboratively identify and address the student’s primary concerns within a limited number of sessions. Individual counseling services are confidential, voluntary, and free of charge. Consistent with the national average at university counseling centers, students typically average 3-5 sessions during a course of individual counseling. The number of group sessions is unlimited, as appropriate.
Some of the issues that are commonly addressed in short-term counseling at the CC are:
- Personal Issues: Stress and anxiety, depression, anger, loneliness, guilt, low self-esteem, grief
- Relationship Issues: Romantic relationship difficulties, roommate problems, family issues
- Developmental Issues: Identity development (including transgender), adjustment to college, life transitions
- Academic Concerns: Performance anxiety, perfectionism, underachievement, low motivation
- Other Issues: Effects of trauma, sexual assault, abuse, concerns from childhood or adolescence, spiritual concerns, body image, food preoccupation, healthy choices
Issues Commonly Referred to Services Outside of CC
Students whose needs cannot be accommodated within short-term counseling or who require a particular type of expertise not found in the CC, are referred into the community. The CC provides referral services during the initial appointment or as these factors become apparent during the course of services.
Some of the issues that are commonly addressed through referral to services outside of the CC include:
- Students who are exclusively interested in psychiatric services (i.e. the provision of psychotropic medication) and are not seeking concurrent counseling assistance
- A desire to be seen more than once a week or for long-term therapy, or a need for such as indicated by:
- History of multiple hospitalizations
- Chronic suicidality and/or self-injury behaviors; history of repeated suicide attempts
- Indication that short-term therapy may be detrimental or non-beneficial
- Evidence or risk of progressive deterioration in mental or emotional functioning, requiring intensive intervention
- Manifestations of psychotic symptoms without willingness to remain on medication for stabilization of symptoms
- Inability or unwillingness to provide the necessary information to thoroughly assess symptoms
- Students who need specialized services not available through the Counseling Center as indicated by:
- Presence of significant or long-standing eating disorder with limited or no period of remission, no previous treatment, or that may pose a medical danger
- Presence of significant drug and/or alcohol problems such substance dependence, primary substance abuse, and/or past failed treatments
- Requests for medication to address issues of attention/focus and hyperactivity
- Request for psychological evaluation to assess for the presence of learning disorders or for the purpose employment clearance or other nonacademic purpose
- Services to fulfill requirements for students' pre-adjudication and/or court-mandated mental health treatment or assessment.