How to Make An Initial Appointment
The Counseling Center (CC) invites students struggling with a personal and/or interpersonal issue to make an initial appointment to discuss their concerns with one of our clinicians. You can schedule an initial appointment by calling 540-568-6552. You can also come to the CC, located on the 3rd floor of The Student Success Center, and schedule an appointment with one of our front desk staff. We are open Monday - Friday 8:00 am - 5:00 pm. In emergency situations a crisis counselor is available to assist students. Due to the nature of the initial appointment process and the amount of time needed to complete the paperwork, if you are late for this appointment, you will be required to reschedule. Finding parking near the Student Success Center can be challenging. Please factor that into your travel time.
What to Expect at the Initial Appointment
Initial appointments typically last 15-20 minutes. The total amount of time needed for check-in, to complete paperwork, and to have the initial appointment is approximately 60 minutes. During this initial meeting, the clinician, in collaboration with the student, may recommend services within the CC, offered by other offices on campus, or the community.
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.
Who is Eligible for Counseling Services?
All full-time students (undergraduates taking at least 12 credit hours, or graduate students taking at least 6 credit hours) are eligible for services at the CC.
If You Need to Cancel or Reschedule
Please call 540-568-6552 if you will be late or need to cancel or reschedule an appointment. We appreciate at least 24 hours notice prior to your appointment time.
Attendance Requirements and Disqualification
When you request services at the CC, time is reserved on a counselor's schedule for your appointment. Missed and canceled appointments prevent valuable, limited staff time from being offered to other students in need. The Center may terminate ongoing individual counseling and psychiatric services for the period of one calendar year when two consecutive appointments are missed (i.e., not canceled 24 hours prior to the session) during a semester or three consecutive appointments are missed over any time frame. Services may also be terminated if an excessive number of sessions are canceled. However, if you find yourself dealing with a personal crisis which necessitates immediate attention by a mental health professional (e.g., suicidal or homicidal thoughts or actions, sexual assault, death of a significant person), you are still eligible to access the CC’s crisis counseling services by calling 540-568-6552. Also, if requested, a counselor will connect you with alternative treatment options within the CC including group therapy, specialized treatment programs, relaxation and expressive arts resources, and case management, or will assist you in locating counseling services in the Harrisonburg community.