What to Expect
When you contact our office, you will be scheduled for a 30-minute, face-to-face screening appointment. This is a specific time reserved for you. At the end of the session, appropriate options will be reviewed with you. These could include an appointment at the Counseling Center for an intake and/or a referral to other resources in the community that can help you address your concerns. The counselor who screens you is not always the counselor who continues to see you; we will match you with an appropriate provider based on your needs. The Counseling Center offers short-term counseling. Undergraduates do not have a limit to the number of times they can come to counseling, due to the payment of a Wellness fee. Graduate students do not pay this fee and therefore are limited to 5 sessions a year after screening.
The following are some frequently asked questions about the counseling process. The information listed below should quell some of your concerns and answer some of your questions about counseling. Please feel free to call or stop by the Counseling Center. Along with providing counseling, we are available to answer questions, provide information and resources about mental health issues, discuss careers in the field of counseling or just chat.
- With what types of problems do counselors help students?
Students come to the Counseling Center with a range of problems. Many have issues related to normal development such as identity or relationship issues. Others are dealing with more specific psychological issues such as depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress, eating disorders, bereavement or substance abuse. Some students are not sure what the problem is. They just know they are having a hard time studying, sleeping or having fun. A counselor can help determine the nature of the underlying problem and empower the student to resolve the disturbance.
- What training do the counselors on staff have?
Each of the staff counselors is trained with at least a Master's degree in counseling or social work, is certified nationally by the respective certification board and is either licensed or license-eligible in the state of Connecticut. The Counseling Center also serves as a training site for area colleges and universities and uses interns as counselors-in-training under close supervision. We are experienced in working with your medical doctor, psychiatrists or therapist from home, should the need occur.
- Can your staff prescribe medication?
No, medication can only be prescribed by a psychiatric nurse (APRN) and other medical personnel. Sacred Heart University does provide a psychiatric nurse (APRN) for full-time undergraduate students. In order to meet with the psychiatric nurse (APRN), the student must first set up an appointment with a staff counselor for evaluation.
- Do the counselors specialize in any specific problems or treatments?
Every counselor at the Counseling Center is trained and experienced in dealing with issues related to mental health, personal development and relationship issues. Of note, Janice Kessler has received specialized training in alcohol and drug addiction and that is the issue she works with. Janice does not see general counseling clients.
- How will counseling help me?
The staff at the Counseling Center perceives students' problems and issues as developmental glitches and not mental illness, per se. There are several different forms of counseling. The counselor will practice the form that is best for you and your problem. You do have a right to know about the process, objectives, goals and expected outcome. It is both your right and your responsibility to understand the counseling process fully and to receive a clear and comprehensive explanation. Our staff also perceives counseling as one aspect of holistic well-being. If you exercise, eat right and get frequent checkups for physical health, why not seek counseling as a way to nurture your emotional/psychological health as well? We do want to stress that personal counseling involves a commitment. We encourage you to keep all appointments scheduled with your counselor. If you cannot make your appointment, please call the Counseling Center at 203-371-7955. Other students may be waiting for an appointment and your time slot may be used productively.
- What if I want a second opinion or I don't "fit" with my counselor?
You are entitled to see another counselor within the Counseling Center or to receive information about counseling resources outside of the university. If, for example, you wish to see a counselor of a specific gender, we will try our best to accommodate your wishes.
- How long will the counseling process take?
Each session lasts about 45 minutes. The number of sessions depends on the individual's needs. Most students are seen for six to eight sessions. Some need but one visit. Others come every week for several years. Every case is different, and you are free to terminate counseling whenever you wish.
- What if a parent, faculty member or staff is concerned about a student?
Counselors are available during business hours to consult about a student and provide information and helping strategies. However, we prefer that the students seek counseling voluntarily and, therefore, the counseling staff avoids contacting students directly. If a student is in danger, appropriate law enforcement and/or emergency medical personnel should be contacted.
- Can a third party, such as a parent, be kept informed of student’s progress in counseling?
It is both illegal and unethical for any counselor to disclose any information about the existence of a counseling relationship or the nature of the counseling process. No information can be released without the informed and written consent of the student. As noted in the Confidentiality Statement, confidentiality can be breached if a student is in danger of fatally hurting himself or another person or if he/she has a communicable disease and has not previously self-disclosed the nature and existence of that disease. Confidentiality may also be breached if the client reports current child abuse.