Guidelines for Clients
This Student Guide to Counseling and Consultation Services (CCS) is designed to assist you in using CCS's services.
- If you are a student who is questioning whether our services are available and right for you, you will find many of your questions answered here.
- If you are a student who has decided that counseling would be useful to you now, you will find out how you can make the most of your counseling experience.
- If you are a member of the university community who is concerned about a student, you may find that this guide for students will help inform you about our services so that you can make a successful referral for counseling or consultation.
Counseling and consultation sessions are free of charge to NMU students
A CCS Overview
Welcome to Counseling and Consultation Services. We are pleased to have the opportunity to offer you our help, and hope that this material will help you to make informed decisions regarding our services.
CCS provides a range of assistance to students. Personal counseling can help students to cope more effectively with many problems that arise in daily life that affect both their academic and overall participation in the university community. Common concerns for which counseling can be effective include stress, adjustment to independence from family, difficulty in setting career and life goals, substance abuse, relationship problems, sexual abuse, trauma, depression, anxiety, poor self-worth, suicidal thoughts/behavior, loss of a relationship through death or break up, etc. Some students seek counseling for long-standing problems and some because of a new troublesome situation. The combination of personal concerns often coincides with academic problems. Students who believe they have significant problems or impediments to functioning adequately in the university environment are certainly welcome to utilize our services. Those who don't feel that they have significant problems that interfere with their ability to function, but want to engage in personal growth/exploration/discovery are welcome as well, and often find counseling as valuable as any, though sometimes in different ways. CCS values non-discrimination in all areas.
Most students receiving individual counseling sessions meet with their counselor from one to six sessions. Many students find participation in personal counseling groups most beneficial for addressing their personal goals. When you first meet with your counselor, you will have an opportunity to discuss a plan to use our services which best addresses your unique needs and goals.
CCS staff members share the philosophy that counseling can help students understand their emotions, cope with troubling situations, overcome adversity, and chart a healthy direction for the future. This philosophy requires that both the counselor and the client work hard to find out what the client's goals are, to see if counseling will help the client to reach the goals, and to develop a plan together. This collaborative work with your counselor is at the heart of all good counseling relations. We believe counseling is an active process that involves sincere work on the part of the client, and that the results of this work are potentially of great value in enhancing a person's ability to engage in a more satisfying and meaningful style of living.
Your counselor will strive to make his or her professional relationship with you one in which you receive the maximum benefit. Psychotherapy is very valuable for many individuals. It can help many people enhance self-esteem and gain general confidence through success in resolving personal issues. However, if you have questions or concerns about therapy, your counselor will be glad to help you understand the process and the rationale for particular approaches. Your counselor will strive to support you to make the most of this unique process.
We also believe that you can learn ways to meet your own needs and to get support from a wide variety of sources. We will help you know what alternatives for assistance and/or information are available from other departments here at NMU and others in the Marquette community. See our Resource Directory available at CCS upon request.
ALL COUNSELING IS PRIVATE AND CONFIDENTIAL. If someone, say a parent, friend, significant other, or instructor were to ask us whether you had come here, we would not even give out that much information without your written permission. Counselors will not release any information regarding your use of the services or personal matters discussed with your therapist, with the exception of the extreme situations of life or death, or current abuse of a minor or elder. The specific circumstances are: a) if you sign a "Release of Confidential Information" giving permission for the release of specific information to a specific party; b) in the event of clear and imminent danger to yourself or another party; c) if you disclose information about ongoing child or elder abuse or neglect; or d) by court order. If any of these circumstances arose, confidential information would not be released without your knowledge.
Some client information is stored on the Counseling and Consultation Services database. This information is protected from unauthorized access.
If you have any questions or concerns regarding the safety of confidential information, please bring them up with your counselor.
**PLEASE NOTE: E-mail correspondence cannot be guaranteed confidential. Do not e-mail anything to CCS staff that is important for you to keep private; call us instead.
We want the environment in our office to be as comfortable as possible. We will try, if we can, to accommodate requests for a male or female counselor, or for a specific person. We have worked with thousands of students over the years and have learned a lot about what it's like to be a student at NMU. We have learned to appreciate the diversity of our students and are diligent to ensure that special populations of students, including students from diverse backgrounds and life experiences, are served sensitively and with respect for their special concerns.
What To Expect: Student Responsibilities
If you are going to be a counseling client, there are responsibilities that we value which may be helpful for you to know as you begin counseling.
- Your first contact with our office will probably be with a member of our clerical staff. The office manager will answer questions, and help you complete the intake paperwork.
- You will be asked to fill out a pre-counseling questionnaire and some other information which will be reviewed by a counselor before your first counseling appointment. This questionnaire is very helpful to begin to orient us in making decisions with you about the most appropriate services available for you. The more information you provide on the form, the more helpful we can be in guiding you towards good decisions.
- As soon as a counselor is available, you will be scheduled for an initial consultation appointment. Personal issue and goals will be discussed. Your counselor will discuss with you whether further counseling would be helpful or desired.
- Occasionally, due to high demand for services, we have to place your name on a waiting list. We understand that the best time to address your issues is when you have made the decision to come into our office and strive to minimize waiting times the best we can.
- As meetings progress, your therapist will get to know more about you and your concerns, collaborate with you about what is needed, and adjust accordingly to facilitate achievement of your goals.
- You are responsible for coming to all scheduled appointments. Please give us as much notice as possible if you cannot make an appointment. That hour could be used to see someone else who could use that time or attend to various other tasks that we are involved in.
- Your counselor will want to know how effective your work together is. The same approach or style does not work equally for all, so it is important that you provided feedback about what is or is not helpful to allow for changing directions, making course corrections, reviewing goals, and/or solving problems with you. You can be most helpful to yourself and your counselor by letting them know when something is troubling you -- even if the trouble is something about your counselor. Although it can be difficult to bring up the subject, our experience has shown that such conversations can lead to special insights, improved working relationships and increased opportunity for personal growth.
- Your counselor may suggest that there are tasks that would be beneficial for you to do on your own outside of therapy sessions. You can multiply the usefulness of counseling and make much more progress by working both in and out of session.
What To Expect: Counselor Responsibilities
- Your counselor will safeguard your confidential information in accordance with CCS policy, professional standards, and state law (see "confidentiality" above). If you are unsure about whether you should sign a Release of Confidential Information or are worried about sharing your information with others who may ask for it (e.g. a prospective employer, your family, an attorney), please first discuss this concern before you agree to have your counselor disclose anything discussed in counseling.
- CCS staff consults with each other about their clinical work. This is a regular aspect of ongoing professional development, and expected in professional ethics of our field. It helps us to ensure good decisions and keep to our clinical work as effectively as we can. Of course, CCS professional staff members are obligated ethically and legally to keep all client information confidential. Occasionally a staff member may have a personal relationship with an individual who seeks therapy. In those cases, we arrange for that individual to see someone other than that counselor and that she/he is not privy to any discussions of that case.
- Your counselor will work with you to assess your current status and collaborate with you to develop a treatment plan consistent with her/his professional judgment. The counselor will inform you if there is a different kind of treatment that would be more appropriate, even if it is not available through CCS. If this treatment is available elsewhere, your counselor will assist you in setting up a referral to another agency or professional if you wish. For example, we have no medical doctors on staff. If medication intervention is indicated, the Health Center can often assist with common concerns; for more specialized issues, referral to a specialist (psychiatrist) off campus may be preferable.
- Your counselor is not responsible for providing you with services that are outside the scope of our mission and resources. For example, if you need: several counseling appointments per week; long term counseling; ongoing after-hours/emergency care; coordinated psychological and medical/psychiatric services, etc., we will be unable to provide adequate care, and will, if possible, refer you to another agency or professional. If alternative services are not feasible (many of our students lack insurance that covers psychological care), your counselor will discuss with you the limits of our available services.
- If your counselor concludes that counseling is not appropriate for you at this time, she/he will discuss this with you and explain signals or conditions you should look for to know when counseling would be more useful and/or effective.
- Your counselor cannot be your friend, date, boss or instructor. Your relationship with a counselor may be very close/intimate in its own way, but must be unique and separate from social types of interaction in order for therapy to be effective. If you have any concerns regarding these boundaries, you are encouraged to contact any counselor here or the director of Counseling and Consultation Services.
- Your counselor will give you an opportunity to evaluate your counseling experience and your counselor on a "post-counseling questionnaire." We very much value your honest feedback, and always appreciate your comments about your experience. These are confidential. At the end of the year, counselors will get averages and a list of comments made; they will not know which clients they came from unless you choose to identify yourself.
Group Counseling: To Enhance Your Counseling Experience
You may request, or your counselor may suggest, that you join a counseling group. CCS groups are comprised of seven or eight students with a range of concerns and personal growth goals, and are co-led by one or two group therapists on staff. We have found that many students can profit from group counseling, particularly when their problems manifest in relationships with other people. It can be a powerful learning experience to realize that others share some of the same struggles, can offer insights and offer feedback and support.
Eligibility and Service Availability
All currently enrolled students are eligible to receive counseling. When a student client's concerns involve a relationship with a non-student (e.g. spouse, boyfriend/girlfriend, family member, etc.), we may include that person in sessions with the student client, if appropriate, to address the primary issues to be worked through.
Full counseling services are available during the academic year. Beginning in the summer of 1999 Counseling and Consultation Services began offering short term, time-limited counseling services during June and July. There are limited counseling services over Christmas and spring breaks. Please note that in the event of a "snow day," counseling services are likely to also be canceled. Please call the CCS secretary on the day classes resume to reschedule your appointment.
Counseling and Consultation Services expects clients to keep all scheduled appointments. Please keep cancellations and rescheduled appointments to a minimum. If you must cancel or reschedule an appointment, please give 24 hours notice, so that we can use the hour to schedule another student needing services. If you miss more than two appointments without calling to cancel, we will assume that you no longer need our services. If you want to resume counseling after missing two sessions, you will need your counselor's permission. This policy is necessary because we sometimes have students waiting for counseling services while others have appointments they are not using.
We recognize that coming for counseling is a difficult choice for a lot of people, and we hope that this guide will make your beginning with us a little less threatening. If you have any questions about any of the information in this guide, please let us know.