What is Counseling?

Counseling will be a different experience for different people, as we strive to meet your individual needs based on your unique set of circumstances. In your first session, which is called an "intake interview" appointment, you will be asked basic, informational questions and work with your therapist to establish goals for counseling. Goals or recommendations may include a referral for group counseling, referral for academic counseling at the Student Success Center, signing up for a workshop, and/or a referral to another provider off-campus.

What happens during the course of your counseling experience may differ over time, based on your situation, progress, or changes in your life. Your therapist may at times suggest exploring potential solutions such as relaxation training, journaling, talking with relevant individuals, reading assignments, or even “homework.” How the therapeutic process will progress depends on your needs and goals, as well as your willingness to seek answers and solutions for your concerns.

What is Group Counseling?

Group counseling may be an alternative or supplement to individual counseling. It may be the best option for students who are coping with relationship or interpersonal concerns, but may also be appropriate for students dealing with issues such as depression or anxiety. The opportunity to meet with other students can provide you with peer support as you learn ways to cope. If your therapist recommends that you join a group, you will likely be added to the group schedule and possibly meet with the staff member who leads the group for a “screening” appointment, during which time you will learn more about the group. It will also give the group leader a chance to learn more about your needs and how the group may be able to help you achieve your goals.

Along with groups, there are also workshops that focus on specific topics, such as anxiety or stress management. These workshops typically meet for a brief time period, and are more educational in nature than a therapy group.

Are my visits confidential?

Yes. There are exceptions, including when there is a concern for someone’s safety.

Can I file a claim on my insurance?

No, we do not accept insurance or cash. Any fees incurred will be charged through the Bursar’s office and placed in the student's account as a Wellness Fee.

Does counseling go on my academic record?

No. Counseling records are securely maintained only on our Center’s secured server.

Will my parents or family know that I’m attending counseling?

Only if you tell them.  Counseling is a confidential process and information is not released without the student’s permission or if there is concern for safety. An informed consent will be required and must be signed by the student in order to release any information for any other reason than safety concerns. 

What’s the cost?

The fee for routine counseling visits is $15 per session after the initial intake interview. There are charges for canceling your appointment with less than 24 hours notice, not showing up to your scheduled appointments, and not attending your initial intake session or calling to cancel this appointment. Other services, such as group or workshop sessions are free. Students are not expected to bring payment with them to their appointments.

How many sessions am I allowed to have per semester, and how often will I meet with my counselor?

Enrolled students whose needs fall within the scope of our services may have up to 8 sessions per semester, but the actual duration may be recommended by a counselor.  Groups are unlimited.

The frequency of therapy is mutually agreed upon by you and your therapist and is largely based on your presenting issues and the goals of treatment. Most often, students will be scheduled for bi-weekly sessions. Group counseling and workshops usually meet weekly, though this may also vary.

It is very important that you arrive early or on-time for your scheduled appointments. Regular, timely attendance of your counseling sessions will help you to achieve your therapeutic goals. If for some reason you are unable to make it to your scheduled session, please call the Counseling Center in advance, preferably 24-hours ahead.

What can I do while waiting on my first appointment?

Sometimes appointments may be a few weeks out from the day you schedule. So, there are some proactive tools that you can utilize prior to seeing a clinician. Check out our Self-Help Tools page for additional information. We highly recommend and suggest trying Therapy Assistance Online (TAO). 

Will I see a graduate student intern?

Advanced graduate students in the mental health professions do provide a small minority of services in our center. They are closely supervised by licensed staff members, who approve of referrals to them. Clinical interns are required by the center to record sessions; however these are kept on an external hard drive and deleted after the session is reviewed by their on-site supervisor.  The recording are for training purposes with only the assigned intern and will NOT be shared in a group training. Students can request more information regarding this process during their intake interview. 

Will sessions be one-on-one or in group format?

Most students receive individual counseling. Groups are available, and in some cases we encourage students to attend them.

Does the Counseling Center prescribe medication?

No.  We refer to professionals in the  community based off the student’s insurance or lack thereof.

Can I get an excuse for missed classes, assignments or tests?

We do not provide “excuses.” We can provide documentation of your visits or other information about you if you request this, but any decision made based on such information is completely up to your instructors. Letters and documentation may take up to 7 business days to obtain from the center.  

Can I get a medical withdrawal?

Our staff can recommend this course of action if it is determined clinically appropriate.  Additionally, any health care practitioner can write supporting documentation to do so if the student is being followed by someone in the community. We cannot recommend this for students with whom we have had no or very little contact, especially when it’s late in the semester.

Can I get a letter for an Emotional Support Animal (ESA)?

We do not provide letters for ESAs. A student seeking a letter will need to find their own resource outside of the campus to secure this type of documentation.

Where is the center located?

Executive Plaza, Building 200, Suite 208.  If you have difficulty finding the center, please call 256.824.6203 and the office staff will help guide you to our location.

What are some common myths about counseling? 

Asking for help is a sign of weakness.

Contrary to this belief, it takes a great deal of emotional strength to seek help for problems that may be too overwhelming to manage alone.

A therapist will fix my problems right away.

The goal of counseling is not for someone else to “fix” your problems. We are here to help you to identify those concerns and to set goals for yourself. Solving those problems may involve working with your therapist to explore your feelings, thoughts, and behaviors. In doing so, you can explore your options and make a decision for how to best achieve your goals. YOU are the best one to fix your problems!

A therapist can’t understand what I am going through, because they’re not going through it themselves.

We agree that each individual is unique, and to achieve a complete understanding of one’s situation is very difficult. However, our staff members have been trained to learn about, be sensitive to, and respectful of the unique experiences of each client. Those experiences may include concerns related to gender, age, cultural background, racial/ethnic differences, sexual orientation, gender identity, family-of-origin, or socioeconomic issues.