What is counseling all about?
Counseling is a place where you develop a therapeutic relationship with a professional and talk about your concerns, define goals, make decisions, and solve problems. In counseling you can share your thoughts and feelings in confidence with a professional who is an objective listener and can help you to change your behavior in order to deal more effectively with a problem or by teaching you new skills. Counseling is a joint endeavor in which both you and your counselor work together to achieve goals that you set.
What kinds of problems are appropriate for counseling?
We will be glad to talk to you about whatever is on your mind. No problem is too big or too small for consultation. You don’t need to wait until you hit rock bottom to come in for counseling. In fact we recommend you come in sooner so you can manage potential problems before they grow. In our experience some of the most common reasons students seek our assistance are because: they are stressed out, having difficulty in school, are extremely anxious and nervous, very unhappy, and/or they are having relationship problems with their partner or their family. Other reasons students seek counseling include, but are not limited to, family problems, low self-confidence, and having difficulty adjusting to college life.
How long does counseling last?
We offer short-term counseling. Some problems may be resolved in one or two sessions while others require a series of appointments. Psychiatric consultation is also available for students who are interested in learning more and potentially taking medication. If more intensive or specialized therapy is indicated, we will work with you to find an appropriate outside provider.
Does counseling go on my records?
No! Your Counseling Center visits are confidential. Information is not shared with anyone without your permission. There are certain exceptions to confidentiality, which pertain to threat or harm to self or others and the abuse of children or incapacitated adults. These exceptions are rare and in almost all cases nobody outside of the Center will know about your visit. Please note, that if you are a student who is 17 years old or younger, you will need the consent of your parent or guardian to receive services. This does not necessarily mean that your parents will know what you discuss in counseling, however, they will know that you are seeing a counselor. Please see our policy on confidentiality for additional information (link to confidentiality section).
Who can use the Counseling Center?
Any student, graduate or undergraduate, currently enrolled at St. John’s University is eligible to use our services. Graduate students must be enrolled for a minimum of six credits. (link to student services).
How much does counseling cost?
Counseling Center services are free of charge. We do recommend, however, that students also secure health insurance as at times we do refer students to community providers for continued or specialized treatment.
I thought you had to be crazy to go to counseling (and I'm not crazy)?
You don’t have to be crazy to go to counseling. People go to counseling for all kinds of reasons and the Center for Counseling and Consultation is equipped to address many different issues. As we have already mentioned, the most common reasons people come to the Counseling Center are because they are stressed out, having difficulty in school, or are having relationship problems, not because they are crazy.
Will I be put on medication?
No. Psychiatric services, such as medication, are completely optional. We have a psychiatrist on staff who can consult with you about what would work best for your treatment needs. Medication can often be helpful especially for students who may be depressed or anxious, however, the decision to take or not take medication is completely up to the student.
Isn’t going for counseling a sign of weakness and a sign that I can't handle my own problems?
Everyone experiences hardships at one point or another in their lives, especially at this life stage. We know you are resilient and strong, however, there are some instances when additional information or viewpoints can be helpful in your decision making process. Recognizing when you need help, and then getting it, is a sign of strength, maturity, and good problem-solving skills not a sign of weakness.
Counseling won't work for me. It's not helpful.
There are no guaranteed results, that is true, but how do you know it won’t work for you if you don’t try it? There is a high probability that counseling can be helpful as many of our students report. According to results from our most recent survey, students who came to the Counseling Center reported the following benefits: overall satisfaction with counseling, an increased ability to cope with their stressors, overall improvement as the result of counseling, an improvement in pursuit of their life goals, better relationships with their friends, partner, and family, improved academic performance, an easier adjustment to college life, and better job performance.
I have tried counseling before and it didn't work.
Your past experience may not have been a good one, but you are in a different place now with different people. Our staff is specifically trained to work with the college population, to work with students from diverse backgrounds, and how to treat students as adults, with respect and without judgment. Approach your new counseling experience with an objective, open mind and see where it takes you.
In my culture, we don’t talk to counselors.
One of the amazing things about St. John’s is that we have students from all over the country and all over the world, from all different walks of life. In fact, did you know, that more than half of the students we saw this past year for counseling identified as students of color? We recognize that in many cultures there is often a great deal of stigma associated with talking to a counselor or mental health professional or anyone outside your family. People may think talking to a psychologist, for example, means you are “crazy” or weak (which we know is not true) or that it may somehow embarrass you or your family. We are sensitive to your needs here at the Counseling Center and will work with you to talk about your concerns. As we have already said, your visit with us is confidential and the fact that you recognize you could use extra help is a wonderful strength you have.
I hear that the counseling center sends students to the psychiatric hospital.
Our main mission at the Counseling Center is not to hospitalize our students but to assist them in coping more effectively with their stressors and to maximize their experience here at St. John’s. In very rare and extreme cases, where there are concerns for safety, we sometimes do send students to the emergency room (ER) for further evaluation to ensure that the student, and other students, remain safe. If a student is sent to the ER he/she will be evaluated by a psychiatrist who will determine if he/she requires hospitalization for stabilization. Keep in mind, psychiatric hospitalization is not a punishment but is a time when someone can temporarily put their stressors aside and spend full-time focusing on a healthy recovery.
What should I expect at my first counseling appointment?
If this is the first time that you will be seen at the Center, your first appointment is called an initial consultation, which is an assessment/interview designed to find out how best we can help you. During your consultation you will be asked to sign a consent form for counseling and to complete a demographics form and mental health questionnaires prior to starting. You will then meet your clinician who will determine how we can better be of help.
Who will be my therapist/counselor?
In order to serve you as quickly and as efficiently as possible, your first intake appointment at the Center will be with the counselor who is first available. If you have a specific counselor preference, such as a preferring a female counselor, please indicate this when scheduling your appointment and we will make every effort possible to accommodate your request. Please be aware, however, that your counselor of preference may not be available right away which may delay your appointment time.