FAQs and Myths about Counseling

Myth – Only those with severe mental health issues need counseling

We see students with issues ranging from mild homesickness or adjustment problems to those with severe depression or anxiety. Moving from home and being thrust into a new environment places many demands on individuals, and sometimes simply talking to counselors who have dealt with a variety of student issues is very helpful.

In fact, a majority of our clients are coming in with universal issues to work on including self-esteem, dating relationships, parents, academic stress, grief issues, and social pressures. Some others may need help with alcohol or drug issues, eating disorders, anxiety, depression, and even suicidal thoughts.

The point is that we see students for issues ranging from mild to severe, and if you are having adjustment problems or just need to discuss your situation with a trained and objective individual, we encourage you to make an appointment.Utilizing our services may mean just one or two consultation session, or more long-term counseling. We see our job as providing our students the services that they need in that moment.

What can I expect on my first visit to the Counseling Center?

Attending your first Counseling Center session can be very intimidating only because you do not know what to expect. We want to assure you we do all we can to make it a comforting, positive, and productive experience.

The first step is always the hardest in many situations, which also is the case in deciding to attend counseling. Much of the anxiety about the counseling process comes from not knowing what is going to happen. Initially, you may have questions such as:

These are all natural questions, and we hope to alleviate some of those fears. (By the way, the answer to the questions above is “no!”)

We want to give you an idea of what would happen in that first meeting with a counselor. During your initial visit, you will meet with a counselor for an intake session. At this time you will be asked to fill out some paperwork, and possibly complete a brief assessment measure.

Then you and your counselor will discuss why you came in, talk about your current situation and any concerns you might have about counseling, and figure out how the Counseling Center can help. You and your counselor, together, will decide what steps to take from there.

Myth – Getting quality counseling services costs too much money

Two full-time licensed psychologists, one part-time licensed psychologist, and two counselors-in-training are onsite to provide counseling. Our counseling services are offered free for the first 8 session each semester to all full-time undergraduate day students and graduate students in health professions at the University of Indianapolis. Should further sessions be required, they will cost $5.00 per session. We operate on a brief therapy model, which means that 1-12 sessions is typically what students should expect.

However, each student’s treatment plan differs and you will get a personalized evaluation on what number of sessions is best for you, whether the sessions fall within our typical range or not. For those cases which require longer term therapy, we have competent and confidential referrals for you to consider.

Myth – If I attend counseling, others will learn about it and it will affect my academic chances

Only if you choose to disclose that you are attending counseling will others learn about it: They won’t learn about it from us. The Counseling Center policy on confidentiality follows the ethical guidelines of the American Psychological Association and we take the confidentiality policy very seriously. (see Confidentiality page)

Information is relayed to no one outside the Health Services staff without the informed consent of the client. We will not confirm or deny that any student has visited the center or been a client to anyone including, but not limited to, parents, significant others, staff, and faculty.

The only exceptions to these guidelines occur in specific, life-threatening emergencies or certain abuse situations in which it is our obligation to keep the student and/or another individual safe. The client is informed of these exceptions in the initial session and if appropriate, will be involved in any and all disclosures related to these conditions.

For your information, concerned parents may call in from time-to-time about their son’s or daughter’s well-being. In these situations, we may advise them in a general consultation on how they can make their own adjustments to their son or daughter being in college, or provide consultation regarding their concerns about a student’s adjustment or other difficulties.

It is important to understand that under no circumstances, would we reveal a client’s status with us or confirm or deny any visits to our center even if a parent has already been informed by the student him or herself. If you choose to sign a Release of Information form for your parents to be involved, we will certainly do that. We do advise that you discuss your options with your counselor before making any decisions.

Myth – My parents will find out that I go to counseling, and the therapist will tell them what I have been discussing in therapy

As discussed in the previous myth, we adhere to a strict code of confidentiality and will not release the names of our clients or content of sessions to anyone, including parents, without written permission from the client. The only exceptions to the confidentiality rule are if we have to act in the client’s best interest to protect him or her from carrying out suicidal or homicidal plans or in certain abuse situations (see Confidentiality page)

Will the therapist make me do things I don’t want to do, or hypnotize me?

Our psychologists and counselors-in-training are all experienced in providing safe and client-centered therapy experiences. From the first session, the therapist and client agree on treatment options and discuss the best approach.

Our philosophy is that clients make the most progress when they act as an active team member with the therapist, and collaboratively explore how the sessions are conducted. We cannot and would not attempt to make changes that the client has not stated as a goal or desire.

As for hypnosis, a tool to bring about deep relaxation, we do not currently provide hypnosis sessions. However, we do offer deep relaxation and stress management training for those who request it. Neither hypnosis nor deep relaxation leads anyone to do anything against a person's will, and even if it were possible, our therapists would never attempt to make clients do anything outside their expressed goals or desires.

Will I be placed on academic probation or sent to the hospital if my therapist determines that I am having suicidal thoughts?

Having suicidal thoughts is very common, and we will not automatically determine that you need to leave school or be sent to the emergency room should you express that you are having these types of thoughts. We will do a thorough risk assessment with you and determine what is the best action to take at that time to keep you safe.

Your status for academic probation is based on your academic performance, primarily your GPA. The Counseling center has no involvement with decisions regarding your academic standing.

If there is a recurring issue with suicidality, you and your therapist will work together to decide if taking a leave from school is necessary in order to address any suicidal behavior more directly.

Will I be forced to take medication if my therapist says that I have depression or anxiety?

Clients are not forced to do anything. We may refer you for a medical evaluation to our nurse practitioners or make an outside referral to determine what would be the best course of treatment.

There are some individuals who would benefit from psychotropic medication in combination with therapy. But there are others who do not need or want that option.

In either situation, clients are always in charge of their treatment and are encouraged to make decisions on treatment options that feel most comfortable and helpful to them.