Frequently Asked Questions
Counseling is a process that is intended to help people take more effective control of their daily lives. It is a process of sharing thoughts and feelings in confidence with someone who is objective and is also a good listener.
Counseling is cooperative. Counselors do not solve people's problems, but rather they serve to enhance the efforts the person is already making, whether that be through discussing new approaches to solving a problem, giving needed information, helping to clarify thoughts and feelings or just through listening.
Counseling is self-improvement. The reasons people come to counseling are as varied as the individuals involved. Some of the reasons include a desire to increase self-confidence, clarify values and priorities, cope with stress, overcome depression, improve relationships with friends and family, improve motivation or become more assertive. In other words, counseling can be a way to improve oneself – a positive and healthy step toward greater self-awareness and change.
Counseling is preventive. The cognitive, emotional and behavioral modifications achieved through counseling can continually be applied to new life situations, safeguarding against the future development of serious problems and enhancing coping strength when problems arise.
Isn’t counseling just for weird or crazy people?
Absolutely not! Most students at some time have problems adapting to new situations and changes taking place within them. Normal developmental concerns and academic pressures while at Concordia might lead them to feel intense anxiety, anger, sadness or depression. Very often these concerns can be worked out alone or with a friend.
Occasionally, however, because of the nature or magnitude of the personal concern, getting help may be desirable. People come to counseling wanting to feel better about themselves and others, and counselors are trained to assist people with personal growth, with awareness of self and environment, and with developing the skills they need to cope with problem situations. We believe students are demonstrating courage and wisdom by seeking another, objective perspective through the utilization of counseling services.
What can I do to benefit most from counseling?
You can be ready to focus on a specific problem or issue, and to set clear and specific goals. Attend your sessions regularly and take an active part in them. Talk about what is bothering you as openly and honestly as possible. Complete any tasks or homework assignments asked of you. Be open to trying new or different approaches to dealing with your concerns. Talk openly with your counselor about your progress in counseling as your counselor is most interested in you benefiting from counseling. Finally, apply your new insights and growth in your daily activities.
How do I make an appointment?
Stop by the Counseling Center office in Academy Hall or call 299.3514 to make an appointment. During busy times of the year, there may be a wait of several days before an initial appointment can be made. However, if something is really urgent, please contact us immediately and we will arrange to see you. We maintain office hours weekdays from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Services are free to all Concordia students.
What can I expect from my counselor?
Counseling Center staff are qualified, trained mental health professionals and advanced graduate student interns with backgrounds in psychology and counseling. They have experience working with a diversity of students and issues. Because counselors have different beliefs about how people change, they differ on how much talking they do in sessions, whether they ask you to do any homework and their focus of discussion.
Feedback from students who’ve come to the Counseling Center shows they think we’re competent and caring in helping people achieve more satisfying educational and life experiences. Regardless of the differing working styles of counselors, you can expect that all of our counselors will:
- Take your concerns seriously
- Attempt to help you find solutions to your problems (But they will not do for you what you are capable of doing for yourself.)
- Maintain the highest ethical and legal standards of confidentiality
- Be willing to answer some questions about herself or himself directly and honestly
What can I expect during my first appointment?
During the first meeting with a counselor, you will be asked to describe your concerns and what you hope to gain from counseling. In addition, your counselor may ask a number of background questions to more fully understand your situation and ways to help you. This is an opportunity for you and the counselor to decide whether the Counseling Center is the best place for you to help yourself. After this meeting, you may decide to continue counseling and will schedule follow-up appointments for either individual or group counseling. When more appropriate for your concerns, you may be referred to another resource, either on or off campus. Some students find that the initial interview itself is all they need to explore and clarify their feelings and options.
What sort of time commitments do I need to make for counseling?
Individual counseling sessions are typically 45-50 minutes in length; group sessions run for approximately 90 minutes. The amount of time you spend in counseling is determined by your own needs. Your counselor is committed to providing services that meet your needs in a timely and effective manner. On average, students wrap up services within four to eight sessions with their counselor.
Portions of this document were adapted from counseling center Web pages published by Loyola College in Maryland and Allegheny College in Pennsylvania.