How Does Counseling Work?
Counseling is a process that is in many ways tailored to fit an individual's needs. This makes it difficult to give a single, comprehensive answer to how counseling works. However, here you will find a collection of information that might help to clear up some answers people often have about counseling.
When should you seek help?
Why talk to a counselor?
What to expect at your first appointment
Suggestions for getting the most out of counseling
Worried about a friend?
When should you seek help?
People are always welcome to come to the counseling for any kind of issue but we generally recommend that a person should get help when their problems are getting in the way of their studies or interfering with their ability to function normally. Occasionally when people are upset they temporarily feel unable to study or eat and sleep normally, but if the problem continues or has serious consequences, it is important to seek help for it.
TALKING TO AN COUNSELOR CAN BE HELPFUL WHEN:
- A problem is impacting your academic performance or affecting your relationships.
- You are feeling anxious, down/ depressed, or overwhelmed.
- You are concerned about friends, roommates, romantic partners or problems at home.
- You are affected by an event such as being away from home; a death or loss; an end or beginning of a relationship; or a national or world event such as Hurricane Katrina.
...OR ANY TIME YOU WANT TO TALK TO SOMEONE FOR HELP.
IT IS NEVER TOO SOON OR TO LATE TO CALL THE COUNSELING CENTER.
Some students may feel that their problem isn't important and they should be able to deal with it by themselves. But if a problem is beginning to impact on your academic performance or on your relationships, maybe it is time to talk about it with someone else who can be objective. Even if your academic work and grades are OK, if you are feeling anxious, sad or down, or having another problem that goes on for more than two weeks, please consider talking to a counselor.
Sometimes students get into a downward spiral because of a problem and then they just decide things have gone too far and no one can help. It is true that some problems are more complicated. At the Counseling Center we have a lot of experience with all kinds of problems that college students have, and can help you figure out where to start, and how to put a plan together.
Sometimes students are concerned not about themselves, but more about a friend, roommate, or family member, and that person's problems. Students sometimes get into "caretaking relationships" with their friends, roommates, lovers, or family members. While that is certainly understandable with people you are close to this can get to the point where the caretaking significantly interferes with your life, studies and relationships. Students sometimes become so worried about another that they can't study, concentrate, or relax. One of our services is to consult with you, to make sure your friend gets the help they need, but also help you get your life back to normal.
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Why Talk to a Counselor?
Your time at SUNY Oneonta can be a wonderful experience but it can also be very stressful at times. Students seek counseling to help them with issues such as:
Adjustment to College Life
Roommate issues and living in the dorms
Making friends and establishing a social life
Managing greater responsibility for your own learning
Concerns about the future
Relationship problems and break-ups
Life after college
Worried about things home
Illness in the family
A troubled sibling/ family member
Death of a family member, friend or pet
Recent or past sexual trauma
Alcohol or other drug use
..And many more.
Sometimes you may have several of these challenges at once. You may be overwhelmed in spite of all of your efforts. An outside perspective can help you begin to find solutions.
The Counseling Center can help because it offers a safe, confidential professional place where a student can slow down, think out loud, get support, and start finding solutions. A counselor can teach you things like new ways to manage stress or communicate with your partner. They can offer new perspectives and help you identify more options. Counselors can also put you in touch with other resources on and off campus to help with your problems. Counseling is a great way to get support during a difficult situation.
Read what other students have to say about us!
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What to Expect at Your First Counseling Appointment
Many people feel nervous about their first counseling appointment. Your counselor understands that its hard to talk to someone you don't know about your personal problems. It might help you to feel less nervous if you know what to expect on your first visit.
When you get to the counseling center office, you will be greeted by the receptionist Jan Cramatte. You should plan to arrive 10-15 minutes early to fill out some paperwork and read some information about the counseling center and your rights as a client. When you are finished with your paperwork you should give it back to Jan and she will call your counselor to let them know you are ready.
Your counselor will come to the office to meet you and escort you to their office. Your counselor will probably begin by telling you about him or herself. Then she/he will discuss your rights as a client and issues of confidentiality.
After that, the counselor will probably ask you to describe why you came for counseling. The counselor may ask questions about all the different parts of your life in order to get to know you more and to understand how the problem fits into and/or affects other areas of your life. Don't worry, the counselor can take the lead in this part of the conversation and help you to explain why you are there.
It is important to understand that you and your counselor are partners in understanding and working on your problem. If there's something you want your counselor to know but she/he hasn't asked yet, feel free to offer the information. If you have questions or concerns about counseling or any other issue, it is important to ask. The better you can communicate your worries or needs to your counselor, the better your counselor will be able to respond to your concerns or needs.
At the end of the first meeting, the counselor will probably ask you or help you to develop some goals for counseling. Its helpful to discuss some goals for counseling so that you and your counselor are on the same page and understand what you want to accomplish in counseling. The counselor may then make recommendations about how they feel you could best achieve your goals, which may include short-term individual counseling at the counseling center, group counseling, referral for more evaluation or treatment by a specialist in your area, or a consultation with a health professional about medication.
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Some suggestions for getting the most out of your counseling experience:
Attendance: The first step is just showing up! If you put time into getting help, that time will pay off for you. And we can’t help you if you’re not here. Also please respect the therapist’s time.
Commit to getting help and making changes. You may spend hours per week watching tv or socializing or learning about different subject matters – but don’t forget your counseling appointment, which is about what’s most important: you! Commit to some time to learn about yourself and make positive changes in your life.
Identify what you need. Think about what you want to talk about, and what feedback or help you want. The clearer you are with what you need, the more your therapist can help you. Not sure? Don’t worry, your therapist will help you to focus on key issues.
Assess progress: let your therapist know how it’s going. Tell us what helps (or what doesn’t). We really want your feedback, it helps us to serve you better.
Take it with you: find ways to take what you learn with you. Ask your therapist to write down or give you a handout on your goals/insights/learning. Your therapist may suggest some things in between sessions for you to try, write about, think about, etc. This helps you to help yourself between sessions. Take time after sessions, preferably that same day or evening, to go over what was discussed – it’s important and it’s about you, so it’s worth it to think over. Reflecting gives you a chance to absorb what you learn. It also helps you apply counseling to your life.
Remember that, like anything in life: the more you put into it, the more you get out of it.
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Worried about a friend?
When you think someone needs counseling and you want to talk to them, try some of these helpful hints:
- Tell the person clearly and directly what you have observed that causes you to become concerned:
"Every time I see you, you look like you have been crying. You don't seem like your usual self. You have been missing a lot of classes. You always appear sad. In class I see you just kind of staring off..."
"Every time I see you, you look angry. I hear you talk with your friends and it always seems like you are arguing. I don't know exactly how much you are drinking, but it seems like I see you coming in late a lot, and usually you look intoxicated."
- Tell the person how you feel, or what it generates in you when you observe these things.
"When I put that all together, I get concerned about how you are doing. I wonder if you have too much stress or too many things to deal with right now. I get concerned about you."
"You worry me. I am not sure you are OK. Maybe you have too much to handle by yourself."
- Give the person some information you have about the Counseling Center.
"I want to make sure you know that we have a Counseling Center for students here. It's free and all you have to do is call this number and make an appointment. It's also confidential."
"Have you ever considered going to the Counseling Center on campus? It's free. It's confidential. They can help you figure out and plan, or put together what might be bothering you. They know college students pretty well there."
- If appropriate offer to come with them on the first visit, but encourage them to make the appointment themselves.
"You need to make your own appointment, but if you want a little moral support, I'd be glad to walk over with you and introduce you."
All contacts at the counseling center are confidential. We can't even let you know if your friend, student, son, or daughter has made an appointment here without written permission.
We would be happy to provide more consultation about how to talk to your friend about counseling call the counseling center at (607) 436-3368.
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