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1. Who can benefit from counseling?

Counseling is not just for those who suffer from serious psychological or emotional problems. All of us have times in our lives when we could benefit from talking with a caring, professional listener about the things that hurt us, puzzle us or concern us; about old hurts that just won’t go away; about how to get out of life what we really need and want. It’s perfectly normal for any of us to need assistance at times. It is also common when adjusting to university living that self-doubt may arise or stress may temporarily get the best of you. This is where our counselors can be of assistance.

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2. What kind of problems does counseling address?

Examples of problems:

  • Sadness and depression
  • Roommate problems
  • Academic problems
  • Relationship problems/breakups
  • Homesickness
  • Adjustment to university life
  • Missing friends and family
  • Family problems
  • Death of a family member or friend
  • Disrupted sleep (too much or too little)
  • Worrying
  • Eating concerns
  • Feeling isolated or out of step with others
  • Feeling anxious or out of control
  • Alcohol and drug concerns
  • Sexuality issues
  • Sexual assault, date rape, sexual abuse issues
  • Domestic violence, harassment, stalking and assault
  • Indecision
  • Meeting the expectations of self and others

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3. What services are provided?

The Counseling Center provides time limited (i.e., short-term) individual and group counseling for all currently enrolled CMU students by licensed mental health professionals and supervised graduate student trainees. Services are provided on the Mt. Pleasant campus. Students may be seen weekly, bi-weekly, monthly, or in other mutually agreed upon patterns. No student will be turned away during a crisis situation.

Depending on the presenting concern, a student may be encouraged to participate in individual or group counseling, a workshop or support group, read educational materials related to their concerns or be referred to other available university and community resources.

Counseling Center services include:

  1. Providing crisis intervention, safety assessment and consultation.
  2. Assessment and/or counseling for: anxiety, depression, loneliness, identity concerns, alcohol/drug abuse, eating concerns, stress management, relationship concerns, family stress, loss, relapse prevention, sexual orientation, homesickness, college-related transitions, personal growth and development, spirituality and improving academic performance.
  3. Assisting students diagnosed with one or more chronic condition(s) on time-limited/focused goals or during an acute crisis.
  4. Exploring career options and indecision, including students questioning choices already made.
  5. Developing academic success skills, including:
    • coping skills for stress management
    • motivational skills
    • study skills
    • time management skills
    • decreasing performance and test anxiety
  6. Supporting students recovering from interpersonal violence (e.g., domestic violence, stalking, harassment, sexual assault).
  7. Assessment and referral to other campus and community resources for students presenting concerns beyond the Center’s Scope of Practice.
  8. Mental health consultation and outreach programs for students, parents, faculty and staff.

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4. How much does counseling cost?

There is no charge for services at the Counseling Center.

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5. What are the Counseling Center’s hours and where do I call for an appointment?

The Counseling Center is open 8:00 a.m. to noon and 1:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. Monday through Friday when the university is open. Call 989-774-3381 to make an appointment. Emergency appointments are available daily. If you need to be seen the same day you call for an appointment be sure to tell our receptionist. Appointments are usually 45 – 50 minutes long.

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6. What can I expect when I come to the Counseling Center?


You can expect to be treated with respect by your counselor and the staff of Counseling Center. To the extent possible your appointments will begin and end on time. We will attempt to contact you if rescheduling is needed. You can expect your counselor’s full attention during sessions. You may ask questions regarding your counselor’s training and qualifications. You may ask about the counseling process or any specific counseling strategies your counselor may suggest. You are encouraged to discuss your progress and review goals with your counselor. If you feel you are not making progress toward goals you should discuss this directly with your counselor. You have the right to terminate counseling at any time and to request referral to another counselor.


Before your first visit with a counselor, you will be asked to complete paperwork that takes about 10 – 15 minutes. You can come into the Counseling Center early and complete the paperwork or pick it up from our office to complete at home and bring it to your first appointment.   It is important that you complete the paperwork as honestly and accurately as possible so your counselor can determine which services will best meet your needs.

Meeting with a counselor

Your first interview will be with a counselor who will talk with you about the ways in which the Counseling Center might be able to help. Options may include individual, couples or group counseling, career counseling, or referral to another campus service or provider better suited to your needs. It is possible that you will leave the appointment feeling able to handle things without additional counseling.

Please note: depending on availability, the counselor you meet with first may not be your ongoing counsel or the counselor with whom you continue to meet.

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7. What if I don’t like my counselor?

Typically we recommend that you discuss this with your counselor first, if possible. This is not mandatory. To change counselors, simply call our office and cancel your appointments with your current counselor and ask to be put on another counselor’s calendar.

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8. What are the potential risks and benefits of counseling?

Sometimes as you change the relationships around you change. Counseling often involves talking about and expressing intense and possibly painful emotions, dealing with difficult situations, or recalling difficult, frightening or challenging parts of your personal history. This may affect your ability to concentrate on everyday activities and affect your mood. You may see things in new or different ways which may be difficult or confusing for awhile.

The benefits of counseling typically outweigh the risks. Most students report feeling better about themselves and others, increased coping skills, improvements in interpersonal relationships, increased problem-solving skills, improved academic performance, assistance in determining a major/career direction, enjoying a safe place to express emotions, or building on individual strengths. Discuss any concerns you have about the possible risks and benefits with your counselor.

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9. Are counseling sessions confidential?

The information you share in counseling is privileged and confidential. Counselors consult with one another as needed to assist students; however a signed consent form is required to disclose any information to a third party. There are exceptions to confidentiality. Your counselor is required to report disclosed information to the appropriate authorities when:

  1. Serious and foreseeable harm to you or others is evident
  2. Release of confidential information is required by court order or requested by you
  3. Child abuse or neglect is evident or suspected
  4. Abuse, neglect or exploitation of adults who are vulnerable due to physical or mental impairment or advanced age is evident or suspected

If you are under 18, discuss with your counselor how confidentiality applies to your situation.

All of our counselors are committed to the ethical standards of practice as set forth by the American Counseling Association, National Association of Social Workers, American Psychological Association and International Association of Counseling Centers.

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10. What about antidepressant, anti-anxiety or other psychotropic medications?

For many students, medication is a helpful addition to therapy. If you and your counselor determine that a referral is appropriate you may be referred to University Health Services, a psychiatrist or another medical provider of your choice for a medication consultation.

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11. Do you have online screenings for mental health concerns available?

The Counseling Center subscribes to an online screening program intended to help students develop a better understanding about issues that can seriously affect their lives. Each screening will take between 4 and 5 minutes to complete, and the results can be printed for your reference. The results you get are NOT intended to indicate a diagnosis, but to start you thinking about feelings, behaviors and thoughts causing you concern. Screening results make a good starting point for conversation with your counselor.

To start the online screenings, please follow the instructions made available on our Online Scree​ning page. If you have any questions about the screening, please call the Counseling Center at 989-774-3381.

Please be assured the online screenings are completely confidential. We do not collect ANY identifying information. No one will see your results except you.

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12. What are the limits to Counseling Center services?

A student whose counseling needs are beyond the Counseling Center’s Scope of Practice is eligible for support and referral services. Examples:

  1. Long Term Counseling / Case Management
  2. Mandated Counseling
    As a general practice the Center does not provide services or treatment to students mandated to see a counselor by the legal system or to those encouraged to seek counseling or treatment by an attorney due to legal difficulties. If a student receives services from the Center only the dates of attendance and level of participation will be reported. Students must complete consent forms to permit such disclosure. Often this information will be provided directly to the student.

    As a general practice the Center does not provide counseling services or treatment to students mandated to see a counselor by CMU faculty or staff (e.g., Residence Life, Academic Advising and Assistance, Athletics, faculty, etc.). Counseling Center staff will participate as part of a team (including the student and the individual(s) making the referral) to assist in interventions designed to help student success at CMU. These services require documentation provided by the referral source with students’ full knowledge and consent.
  3. Personal Motivation for Counseling

    We ask that students have personal motivation for counseling to be seen at the Center. Students may be referred to other campus or community resources if not achieving progress on established counseling goals due to lack of personal motivation.
  4. Assessments for Employment, Volunteer or Related Purposes / DSM-IV Diagnoses

    As a general practice the Counseling Center does not conduct assessments, make recommendations or predictions regarding student suitability for employment in various work settings (e.g. Peace Corps, Federal Government, security clearances for the FBI or CIA, military, etc.), volunteer placements, etc. Counselors typically do not make or release DSM-IV diagnoses.
  5. Substance Abuse

    If a student has substance abuse concerns, counselors are available to:

    a) meet with the student for up to 3 sessions to provide support
    b) conduct a safety assessment (if indicated)
    c) determine if the student’s counseling needs can be addressed by receiving counseling at the Center
    d) refer the student to other resources

    When eligibility for services is unclear, the counselor will consult with the Center’s clinical team, director, or director’s designee prior to a final decision. The Counseling Center will provide referral assistance and crisis intervention services for students whose needs do not meet our Scope of Practice.

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(Adapted from the Tarleton State University Student Counseling Center’s website, downloaded January 26, 2007) February 7, 2007