The Counseling Process

If students are unfamiliar with the counseling process, they often have questions. Our hope is the following discussion can answer these questions and ease possible concerns.

What exactly is counseling?

Counseling is a process with the goal of helping students gain more positive control of their lives.  Counseling is not magical, nor will a counselor solve students’ problems for them.  Rather it is an opportunity to gain information, explore alternatives, and clarify thinking.  If used well, it can offer insights that can be applied to future life situations.  Successful counseling involves a commitment from the student and a willingness to try new ways of thinking or acting.  Good mental health is not the absence of problems but an ability to use appropriate resources to help resolve problems.

What does “short-term counseling” mean?

We are designed to provide short-term, time-limited counseling in order to offer services to as many students as possible.  For those students whose presenting issues suggest a need for more long-term services, the staff at Counseling Services can help facilitate a referral to private mental health care in the community.  Services at our center will not be an appropriate substitute for long-term, intensive psychological services.  If you are unsure whether or not Counseling Services is the best fit for your needs, our staff will be happy to meet with you to discuss your individual situation.

What can I expect from my initial visit to Counseling Services?

You will be scheduled for a Triage appointment. This triage session is approximately 20-25 minutes and is to assess your needs and determine how to best serve you. Depending on your situation, a number of directions are possible:
  • The initial discussion may have helped you to resolve your concerns sufficiently.
  • You may continue to meet with a counselor and a follow-up appointment will be scheduled.
  • You may be referred to another office at WSU that can better help you with your situation.
  • You may be referred off campus to a therapist or service that is better able to help with your situation.

Don’t I have to have major problems to be in counseling?

Absolutely not!  College is a time of great change.  There are developmental concerns and academic pressures, and everyone responds differently.  It is rare for a person to not experience some challenges as they learn to navigate through this new world of college.  Family and friends can be very supportive during these years, but sometimes, getting professional help is desired or needed.  People see counselors for a wide variety of reasons.  It is often a wise choice and a sign of strength to seek out professional help.  If it crosses your mind that you might want to try counseling, then coming in is right for you.

What are some concerns people bring to counseling?

Any personal issue can be discussed.  We see students for a wide array of concerns.

How effective is counseling, anyway?

Virtually all students surveyed who used WSU Counseling Services feel counseling was beneficial and state they would return in the future if a problem arose.

How often do people meet with a counselor?

It varies.  Sometimes people meet with a counselor only once and don’t need to continue.  Others meet with a counselor a few times throughout the semester.

What can I do to make counseling more helpful?

Successful counseling is a joint process between you and your counselor.  It involves your motivation and willingness to try new ways of thinking and acting.  To increase the likelihood of success the following recommendations are made:

  • Attend scheduled sessions.  (If you cannot, please be courteous and cancel in advance.  We often have a waiting list.)
  • Be as specific as possible about why you are seeking counseling and how you want your life to be different.
  • Work with your counselor to set goals.
  • Discuss progress.
  • Be as open and honest as possible.
  • Be willing to try new ways of thinking or acting.
  • Complete, or at least attempt, “homework” given.
  • Tell your counselor if you don’t think you are being helped.

What can I expect from my counselor?

At WSU Counseling Services, you can expect to see a qualified, licensed professional with experience in college mental health.  While counselors’ styles differ slightly, all will:

  • Create a safe place for you to talk
  • Listen non-judgmentally
  • Take your concerns seriously
  • Ask questions
  • Provide support and understanding
  • Work with you in finding solutions to your problems
  • Maintain ethical and legal standards of confidentiality
  • Help during a crisis
  • Refer students with long-term needs to appropriate off campus resources