Office of Academic Support & Counseling

FAQ About Counseling

What types of concerns do students generally have?

Student concerns can cover a wide range of different experiences. Some of them are listed below:

  • Academic difficulties (poor performance, test anxiety, worry)
  • Adjusting to medical school
  • Anxiety (including panic attacks, fears, obsessive thoughts)
  • Bereavement issues
  • Career concerns and questions
  • Concerns about family, a friend, a roommate, or relationship
  • Culture, religion, and spirituality
  • Depression, mood, or psychiatric problem
 
  • Eating issues
  • Feeling lonely, isolated, homesick
  • Financial concerns
  • Gay, Lesbian, Bi-Sexual, Transgender issues
  • Harassment
  • Interpersonal conflicts, difficulty working with a team or group
  • Partner and/or spousal conflicts
  • Learning issues, disabilities
  • Quality of life
 
  • Personal health, illness
  • Professional and personal development
  • Self-destructive behaviors, suicidal or homicidal thoughts
  • Sexual harassment
  • Sleep difficulties, fatigue, low energy
  • Stress, confusion, indecision
  • Substance abuse, dependence, addiction
  • Time management, organizational difficulties
 

FAQ about confidentiality

  • Will my confidentiality be compromised if I seek consultation or support from the OASC? 

Students attending schools in the United States are protected by FERPA (Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act). 

 

Visits to the Office of Academic Support and Counseling are confidential.  Significant information related to your academic progess may be shared only with the Deans of Students.  All counseling notations are completely confidential.  They do not become part of a student's univeristy record.  With few exceptions, which we will discuss with you, student records can only be released with your written permission.

 

The privacy of students seeking support from outside therapists or counselors is also protected by FERPA.  Under FERPA, therapy or counseling treatment records are not available to anyone other than the professional providing the treatement, or to physicans or other appropriate professionals of the student's choice.  Prior written consent from the student is necessary prior to the release of any treatment records. 

 

For more information regarding Joint Guidance on the Application of the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) And the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA) To Student Health Records refer to www.ed.gov/policy/gen/guid/fpco/doc/ferpa-hippa-guidance.pdf

 
 

FAQ About calling a referral

  • What will happen when I call to make an appointment? 

When you call to make an appointment at the counseling center, the receptionist will likely take your name, address, student information (class year) and ask why you are calling.

If you have the opportunity to speak to the clinician directly on the phone, take  a few minutes to ask about his or her philosophy and approach to working with patients, and whether or not he/she has a specialty or concentration.

Please be encouraged to use this checklist as a guide to set your goals for a first conversation.  Many of these questions will probably be covered without your asking, but if not, don’t be afraid to ask.

  • What academic qualifications and training have prepared you to practice as a therapist?
  • How do you insure that confidentiality will be maintained?
  • What specialized training and/or experience have you had in working with the issue I am dealing with?
  • How will my insurance claim be handled?
  • What type of therapy do you do (e.g., mostly talking, medication, role-playing, visualizing, hypnosis, artwork, “body-work”)?
  • Can you prescribe medication?  If not, what arrangement do you have for doing so?
  • What are your office protocols (booking appointments, payment for missed appointments, emergencies, etc.)?
  • Can you accommodate my academic or work schedule?
  • Can you give me a brief explanation as to what I can expect to happen in my first session?
  • What are the steps for choosing a therapist? 

If a specific characteristic in a therapist is important to you, such as gender, ethnicity, sexual orientation or age, be encouraged to state this, the clinic they will likely do whatever they can to accommodate your requests.

  • You many want to see your primary care physician to rule out a physical cause of your problems.  If your thyroid is “sluggish,” for example, symptoms—such as loss of appetite and fatigue—could be mistaken for depression.
  • Be sure the psychotherapist takes a unique approach to your treatment and does not believe that what works for one individual will necessarily work for another.
  • An important element of successful therapy is rapport.  After your first visit, reflect on how you feel about your therapist.
  • What will happen when I get there?  What should I expect at my first visit?  What’s the first session like? 

If you have never been in therapy before, then it is natural to feel a little nervous about what will happen.  As a result, the first session can feel pretty intense.  However, it is a good opportunity for you to see whether you feel comfortable talking with a counselor and think you might benefit from further sessions on a regular basis.

When you get into the counseling center you will check in for you appointment just like at a doctor’s office.  They may have you fill out a form about family history, insurance and why you are there, or they may just wait every others doctor’s office.

If you use a referral that is not on on your insurance provider list, you may be asked how you will finance the visit when you make the appointment.  When you arrive, you will be asked for  financial documentation, such as insurance cards, who is responsible for payments, etc.  You may be given other documents, such as the therapist’s privacy policy.

The length of “therapy,” varies from patient-to-patient.  The goal is to help you develop ways to deal with issues setting in the way of your journey through medical school.  The first visit will cover what difficulties you are having, any changes/symptoms in your life, history of these problems in you and your family, if you are using drugs or alcohol, or are smoking.  The therapist may have time to ask about your childhood, education, relationships, current living situation and ability to function in school.  The questions may seem invasive and uncomfortable, but remember that this is your therapist’s treatment plan for you.  If you feel uncomfortable answering—you will only be hurting yourself and your chances of dealing with the disorder or problem if you’re not honest.

You may also discuss length of treatment, methods the therapist will use and patient confidentiality.  At the end, the therapist may ask if you have any questions.

If the therapist believes you are experiencing a mental disorder then he or she may ask you to complete a questionnaire to determine what disorder you are experiencing.  This is normal and mental health professionals use these questionnaires routinely.  Afterwards, the therapist may give you a tentative diagnosis.  If so, the therapist will discuss treatment options and may recommend medication or ask you to speak with a psychiatrist, who may recommend medication (only psychiatrists, other doctors and in some instances certain other medical professionals can prescribe medication).  You have a right to full explanation of the diagnosis, prognosis, and nature and consequences of the proposed treatment, including risks, benefits and alternatives.  If you have questions or concerns, don’t be afraid to ask.

Below is a checklist of questions you will want answered during the first session.  Many of these will probably be covered without your asking, but if not, don’t be afraid to ask.

  • Can you give me a brief explanation as to what I can expect to happen in subsequent sessions?
  • How often will I have therapy sessions and how long will each session last?
  • Do we agree on the goals of my treatment?
  • How many sessions is it likely to take to resolve my issue?
  • What should I do in case of an emergency?
  • How will my confidentiality be assured?  You may want to specifically ask about whether and under what circumstances information will be shared with your parents or the administration.
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