College life can be challenging and is often stressful. Students experience those challenges in a number of different ways: difficulties adjusting to college, confusion in deciding on a major or career path, or struggles in relationships, or making friends or getting along with a roommate. Many students feel anxious, depressed, confused, or overwhelmed at some point during their college experience and need help dealing with feelings and problems that seem beyond their control.
For college students, that help may come from friends, family members, significant others, etc., but in some cases, help is needed from a trained professional. Counseling is a process that can help people identify more effective strategies both to cope with difficult situations and to achieve their goals. While some people who seek counseling have chronic emotional difficulties, most are dealing with normal life events and are simply in need of an objective listener - someone who doesn't judge and who can help them see new alternatives.
Individual counseling is basically a collaborative effort between you and your counselor. Our goal is to provide an open, supportive, and confidential environment for you to address the issues that are concerning you. To schedule a first appointment, called an initial consultation, simply call our office at 512-471-3515.
Just about anyone can benefit. No problem is too big or small. Listed below are just a few examples of some common concerns which bring students to CMHC:
Symptoms of stress, anxiety, and depression
College adjustment issues such as homesickness, academic problems, and long-distance relationships
Interpersonal difficulties, including roommate conflicts, family problems, romantic relationship concerns, problems with assertiveness, and other issues
Bereavement and grief related to the loss of a loved one (such as relationship breakups, deaths, parental divorce, or other major losses)
Questions/confusion about identity, self-image, sexuality, gender, or religious concerns
Concerns about body image, food, eating, or weight, as well as treatment for eating disorders
Experience with sexual assault, relationship violence, stalking, abuse, or other trauma
Thoughts of suicide, death, or hurting others
Behaviors that can be harmful to you, like drug or alcohol abuse or cutting
When to Seek Counseling
Our counselors are trained to intervene or provide support for a countless number of issues, far too many to list in any comprehensive way. While counseling might be helpful in numerous situations, there are some conditions in which we would strongly encourage you to seek counseling services:
You are unhappy on most days or feel a sense of hopelessness
You worry excessively or are constantly on edge
You are unable to concentrate on your schoolwork or other activities
You are unable to sleep at night or constantly feel tired
You have experienced a change in your appetite or your weight
You have experienced a loss (e.g., a relationship breakup, a parent's death)
You have increased your use of alcohol or other drugs (including cigarettes)
You feel overwhelmed by what is going on in your life
You are having thoughts about hurting yourself or someone else
How Does Counseling at CMHC Work?
ELIGIBILITY. Any currently enrolled UT student is eligible to receive our services.
COUNSELING SERVICES Our individual counseling services are short-term and time-limited. As part of the initial interview, you will be asked to complete paperwork which will help us get to know you. Please allow 90 minutes for this first appointment.
During the initial consultation, the counselor will assess your needs and make a treatment plan based on their professional opinion and in collaboration with you. Individual counseling at CMHC might be one of those recommendations.
You and your counselor will work together to decide how frequently and for how long a period it is necessary to meet. In some cases, students are referred to providers outside of CMHC. This decision is made on a case-by-case basis and is determined by the appropriateness of time-limited treatment for your individual situation, our expertise in treating your particular problem, the availability of staff and other resources, and other factors. Also, if you seek services late in the semester, availability of ongoing services may be more limited.
CMHC COUNSELORS Counseling services are provided by licensed psychologists, social workers, professional counselors, marriage and family therapists. Services may also be provided by other mental health professionals, some of whom are in training. All professionals-in-training are supervised by licensed staff.
RECORDS Any information you share during your contacts with CMHC will be treated with the strictest confidentiality as allowed by law. In accordance with ethical and legal standards, this information will not be disclosed to anyone without your written consent, except in very specific circumstances as required by law.
Counseling records are entirely separate from your academic record.
What Happens at the First Appointment (Initial Consultation)?
When you call or stop by CMHC, you will be offered the first available appointment that matches your schedule. If you have particular counselor preferences, this might increase the time you have to wait for your first appointment. This first session, an initial consultation, will usually be scheduled within a few days to a week or so. (Please note that if you are in need of immediate help, inform our staff so that we can connect you to the appropriate CMHC resources immediately.) When you schedule your first appointment, you will be asked your name, phone number, and whether you have been to CMHC in the past. The total time period required for the initial consultation or intake appointment is approximately 90 minutes, so be sure to keep this in mind when scheduling your appointment.
It is essential that you arrive promptly for your first appointment in order to allow sufficient time to complete the necessary paperwork. If you are more than 15 minutes late for your first appointment, you will be asked to reschedule. The initial paperwork includes a demographic and clinical history form, a consent to treatment, and a scheduling form. You also will be given a handout about Client Rights and Responsibilities . Once you have completed all of the paperwork, you will be asked to have a seat in our waiting room.
The purpose of this first session is for your intake counselor to obtain information about your current concerns, relevant history, and goals. Your counselor should also review relevant CMHC policies and procedures, such as confidentiality. At the end of the appointment, you and your intake counselor will determine an appropriate course of action. This plan might include subsequent sessions with one of the CMHC counselors, participation in a CMHC group or class, referral to an off-campus provider to better meet your needs, or any one of our other many services.
You may decide to take no further action at that time - you are not obligated to continue counseling once you've attended an initial session. If you have any additional questions about the first appointment, please don't hesitate to call our office at 512-471-3515.
Short-Term Counseling at CMHC
If you and your counselor decide that individual counseling through CMHC is the best course of action for you, then you will be given the opportunity to schedule a follow-up appointment. Typically, you will meet with your counselor for 45-minute sessions, usually every 2 to 3 weeks for a specified period of time.
Early on, you will work with your counselor to set goals for your counseling sessions. Establishing clear goals will provide direction as well as help you to monitor your progress in counseling. If you have any questions or concerns about the counseling process, don't hesitate to bring these up with your counselor, who will be pleased to discuss them with you. The exact direction of your counseling experience will depend on the issues you bring into counseling, your counselor's perspective, and the goals you set for your work together.
What if I Have to Cancel My Appointment?
Call the front desk at 512-471-3515 as soon as possible after you become aware that you cannot come to your appointment. You can leave a message on the voice mail if you are calling outside of business hours. There is a $25 fee for missed or canceled appointments that are NOT canceled 24 hours in advance of your appointment.
How to Get the Most Out of Your Counseling Experience
Define your goals. Think about what you would like to get out of counseling. It might be helpful to write a list of events, relationship issues, or feelings that you think are contributing to your distress. Take time before each session to consider your expectations for that session. Self-exploration and change involve hard work, and sometimes painful feelings are stirred up in the process of healing. Counselors are trained to pay close attention to these issues and will probably encourage you to discuss these feelings openly.
Be an active participant. This is your counseling experience, so be as active as you can in deciding how to use the time. Be honest with the counselor and give her or him feedback about how you see the sessions progressing.
Be patient with yourself. Growth takes time, effort, and patience. All of your coping skills, behavior patterns, and self-perceptions have been learned and reinforced over a long period of time, so change can be difficult and slow at times.
Ask questions. Ask questions about the counseling process, any methods used by the counselor, or about any other services at CMHC. Your counselor is there to assist you.
Follow your counselor's recommendations. Take the time between sessions to complete any activities suggested by your counselor. Counseling is intended to improve your life in the "real world," so making efforts to try out and practice new behaviors, approaches, or ways of thinking could be a crucial element to the success of your counseling experience.
How to communicate with my counselor between sessions
Secure Messaging: By clicking on the My CMHC in the upper right hand corner, you can log-in for secure messaging. You can communicate securely and confidentially with your counselor.
To insure consistent communication keep your e-mail current with the University. Also, CMHC staff does not respond to messages sent via regular e-mail, as it is not a secure form of communication, but secure messaging is. Find out more about Secure Messaging by clicking here.