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What is counseling?

In counseling sessions you can talk about your problems with someone who will listen attentively and who will not judge you. The clinician may ask questions to help you think about the problem in a new way and may give suggestions. The goal of counseling is to help you find options and make choices to solve problems and feel better. The clinician may offer information which may help you resolve your problems.

Why would you or someone you know go to counseling?

Most people go to counseling when their usual way of handling problems is not working. It may be that talking with friends or family has not been as helpful as it has been in the past, or that the problem is about friends or family. Others go to counseling to speak with someone objective who is not involved in their life. Most people who go to counseling are experiencing some uncomfortable or unpleasant feelings, such as sadness, anxiety, anger, uncertainty, or just a general sense of being overwhelmed. Often people who go to counseling report not feeling like themselves, or others have told them they seem different lately. Sometimes people have been struggling with problems for some time but they only go to counseling once the problems get in the way of their ability to get things done day to day.

Who can use the services at the Counseling Center?

Any student enrolled at UK may use the services at the Counseling Center (UKCC). Graduate students in dissertation and thesis hours are also eligible. In the summer, students not taking classes may use UKCC services if they were enrolled the previous spring and are preregistered for the following fall semester. We do not provide personal or career counseling for faculty or staff.

How much does it cost to use the services at UKCC?

There is no charge for the services at UKCC.

How do I make an appointment?

If you are not a current client of the Counseling Center, please contact TRACS (Triage, Referral, Assistance, and Crisis Support) to schedule a brief evaluation. The TRACS office may then refer you to the Counseling Center for ongoing treatment and/or other resources that can address your concerns.

If you are a current client of the Counseling Center, you may call our Welcome Desk at (859) 257-8701 or stop by our offices in 104 Mandrell Hall or 401 MDS Bldg, M - F, 8 am - 4:30 pm to schedule or cancel an appointment.

How long will I have to wait for a first appointment?

Wait times for scheduled appointments vary but are usually within one to two weeks.  During particularly busy times of the semester, wait times may be longer. If you know a problem exists or if you have a concern, don't wait to reach out for support. Earlier in the semester is usually the better time to be able to meet with a clinician quickly. Plus, some issues can be addressed early before they get worse or other related problems develop.

What can I expect in the first session?

Before your first session, you will be asked to complete forms online which your clinician will view before you meet. Your clinician will ask you questions about the problem(s) that bring you to our office and also about other areas of your life in order to figure out what kind of service will be most helpful to you. At the end of the session, which lasts about 45 minutes, the clinician will talk with you about what to do next. If a service at the  Counseling Center is recommended, your clinician will help you schedule your next appointment. Other times you may be referred to other services on campus or in the community that are a better fit for your needs.

How long will the appointment take?

Most appointments last 50 minutes. Before the first appointment, there are forms for you to complete which take about 15-20 minutes. Before each subsequent appointment, you will complete a brief survey about your symptoms which takes 5-10 minutes. Complete the forms within the hour before you see your clinician. If you are more than 10 minutes late for the appointment, the appointment may be rescheduled.

Why do I have to complete so many forms?

The forms you complete give us information about you and help us understand what kind of problems you are experiencing. It also protects you and gives you information about your rights as a client. You will be asked to complete one of the forms every few sessions so that we can monitor your progress while you are seeing a clinician.

Do you have crisis counseling?

Yes. Current clients of the Counseling Center can either come into one of our locations between the hours of 8 a.m. and 4 p.m. Mon-Fri, or call UKCC at (859) 257-8701 and let the receptionist know that you have an emergency and need to talk to a clinician as soon as possible.

Crisis services are also available through the TRACS (Triage, Referral, Assistance, and Crisis Support) office by calling (859) 218-7227.

A clinician will speak with you and determine how to help with the situation. If you are not sure whether or not it is an emergency, ask to speak with a clinician who can help you determine whether or not you need to come in immediately. You may also speak with a clinician after hours, on weekends, and during university closings and holidays by calling our main number and pressing 1.

Can I get an alcohol and drug assessment?

If you have questions or concerns about your alcohol or drug use, or you want to make healthy changes in your substance use, we can provide assessment, consultation, and counseling. However, we generally do not provide assessments or counseling for those with mandated court requirements. If you have a court mandate, we can direct you to others in the community who offer this service. For a free on-line alcohol screening, please go to our on-line screenings web page.

What is group counseling? Why would I want to go to a group instead of individual counseling?

Group counseling is often the most effective type of counseling if your problems involve relationships with other people. For this reason, often your initial assessment clinician will recommend group counseling instead of individual counseling. Groups usually involve 5-10 students and are led by one to two members of the UKCC staff.

Can I bring a friend or family member? What if she or he isn't a student?

Friends, partners, spouses, and family members who are not students are not eligible for individual or group counseling at the Counseling Center. They may participate in relationship counseling with you, as long as you are a student. If you would like the support of having a friend or family member attend a session or two with you, you may invite them. If there is a need for ongoing family therapy, you and your family member(s) will most likely be referred to a clinician outside of the Counseling Center.

Can I still come to the Counseling Center if I am already seeing another mental health professional somewhere else?

That depends on why you are seeking help at UKCC and why you are seeing the other person. You are welcome to come to UKCC for help with career decision-making or academic problems even if you are seeing a therapist at home or in town to address personal issues. Many students also come to UKCC for counseling who are also taking medication to improve their mood, and this is OK. Many students come to UKCC for counseling who are taking medication prescribed by the clinicians at Student Behavioral Health on campus. It is not a good idea to see two different therapists at the same time for the same problem.

Is there a limit to how many times I can meet with a clinician?

There is a limit of 10 sessions of individual and/or relationship therapy per year. This is not a guarantee of 10 sessions per year. The number of sessions you receive depends on your needs, your clinician's assessment of what will be most helpful for you, and other factors related to therapy.

What if I am interested in medication? Can you prescribe that?

We cannot prescribe medication but we can refer you to others on campus or in the community who can evaluate you for medication and prescribe it if needed.

Can anyone find out that I have been to the Counseling Center or what I said to the clinician? What is confidentiality?

We do not reveal any information about anyone using our services unless that person gives us written permission to do so or unless required by law. However, sometimes students prefer to share information with a third party such as a parent/guardian, professor, campus support service, employer, or friend. If you would like for the Counseling Center to share information with specific individuals or offices, the release form (form may be completed online or as PDF document) must be completed, signed, and dated. We may require independent verification from the client that this release is authentic and should be acted upon. Please note if the release should come to the attention of a specific clinician.

Confidentiality means that everything you tell anyone at the Counseling Center is private. By law the counselor cannot provide anyone with information about you, including that you are meeting with a counselor, without your written permission. That means that information will NOT go into your academic record and will NOT be given to your parents, friends, professors, or employers. The only exceptions to this confidentiality law involve those few times when it is clear that a person's life is in imminent danger, when a person who cannot take care of themselves is in danger of being harmed by a caregiver (such as a child or elderly person), when there is violence between married persons or those living together, or when the information is required by a court of law (i.e., subpoenaed) within the United States.

Students are encouraged to discuss any concerns they have about confidentiality with their counselor.

Will I always see the same clinician or will it be different each time?

The clinician you see for the initial appointment may or may not be the same clinician you meet with for counseling (all sessions after the first). Whether you meet with the same person depends on your preference, your schedule, the type of counseling (individual, relationship, group) you will be receiving, and the issues you wish to discuss. Once you begin counseling, you will continue to meet with the same clinician each session unless you decide you would like to see someone else or some unusual circumstance prevents your clinician from continuing with you.

What if I want to meet with a particular clinician?

We will try to accommodate your requests for seeing a clinician. However, you may have to wait longer for an appointment than you would if you were willing to meet with the first clinician available. 

What if I want to change clinicians?

We understand that sometimes you may not feel comfortable talking with a particular clinician. Clinicians are people with unique personalities like anyone else, and sometimes you and the clinician are just not a good match. We would much rather you change clinicians than stop coming to counseling altogether if you have not gotten help with your problem. We think it is best if you talk directly with your clinician and let them know you would like to change clinicians. We do not get angry or offended when students want to change clinicians, though we do often find it is helpful to talk about the reasons you want to change. If it is too difficult to make that request with the clinician you have already met with, just let the receptionist know that you'd like to make a first appointment with a different clinician. 

How "bad" should I feel before I go for counseling?

If you are considering counseling, it is probably time to speak with a clinician, no matter how "bad" you feel. Unfortunately, students often wait for a problem to get really bad before they seek help, and end up having more negative consequences than they would have if they had spoken with a clinician earlier. At minimum, if your problem is leading to difficulties in your ability to do what you need to do day-to-day (get up, take care of your basic needs, attend class, perform academically, get along with others, eat, sleep) you should probably seek counseling. If you are having any thoughts of hurting yourself or others you should definitely seek counseling.

I really don't feel that bad. Are there any other reasons to go to counseling?

Counseling is not just for those times when you feel bad. Many students find it helpful to talk with a clinician when they are feeling confused or stuck in trying to solve a problem or make a decision. Sometimes even when things aren't at their worst, you still have a strong sense that they could be better. This can be true for a relationship, your grades, or how you feel about yourself. A clinician can help you figure out what changes might make things better, help you decide whether you are ready to make changes and then help you make them if you are ready.

What is the difference between counseling and therapy?

The words are often used interchangeably and there is a lot of overlap between them. Counseling tends to focus on what is going on right now and how you can best cope with day to day life. Psychotherapy or "therapy" tends to focus on understanding and changing long held patterns of thinking, feeling, and behavior that are leading you to have difficulty right now. Therapy often requires exploring the past as well as the present. Often students will engage in both over the course of treatment. Whether your sessions with a counselor are more counseling or more psychotherapy depends on many factors, including the type of problem you are experiencing, what your counselor believes will be most helpful and what you want to get out of the experience.

What can I do if I'm not ready for counseling?

You can use our drop-in and self-care resources, including free apps. There are lots of other ways to work on your problems. You can talk to friends and family, ask others for advice, write in a journal, or read books or pamphlets. Often students come to counseling when they have tried these things and found the problem still exists.

What happens if I want to stop receiving services?

As these services are voluntary, you may stop them at any time.