Who do I call if there is an emergency?
If you or someone you know is in an emergency situation, just call the office and let us know that your situation is urgent. The Counseling Center is open 8:00 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. Walk-ins are also welcome. After hours, you may call the campus police dispatch at 432-552-2911. They will contact a counselor from the counseling center to call you.
What about confidentiality? (I know there are certain exceptions to FERPA.)
We believe that confidentiality is of crucial importance. Counselor guidelines are stricter than FERPA. No information is ever released without our client's written permission (even the fact that they came to the counseling center), within the guidelines of professional ethics and legal principles. In extreme situations, such as a danger of death, or abuse of a minor (under age 18) or elder (over 65), Texas law requires a counselor to contact someone if a person is a danger to themselves or others. If that were to happen, a counselor would talk with the client first. A counselor could be required to respond to a court order in the case of a legal proceeding. As above, this is extremely rare, and a counselor would discuss it first.
What types of things do people get counseling for?
Most of the people we have seen over the years have come for therapy to deal with issues that are compromising their well-being or functioning in some way. Some of the more common concerns we have seen over the years have been: depression; anxiety; personal crisis; eating disorder/body image problems; sexual, physical or emotional abuse; suicidal feelings; dysfunctional family of origin; alcohol and/or drugs; roommate conflict; loneliness; relationship troubles; sexuality, and more. You don't need to know ahead of time if counseling would be appropriate for your concerns. Just call or stop by and ask; a counselor will help you decide if/how counseling could be helpful for you.
What do people actually do in counseling?
Clients talk about feelings, thoughts and experiences related to personal difficulties. Often these are things they are not comfortable discussing with others out of fear for being judged or misunderstood. A counselor offers non-judgmental listening, understanding, empathy, new perspectives, an environment of safety and trust, and a blend of support and challenge as best fits each individual client. Counselor and client collaborate to establish priorities about the most important goals to achieve as well as the best approach for doing so.
How long do people usually stay in counseling?
This is very individual; it depends on the person and the nature of their concerns. Some people get what they need in as little as one session. The majority work for 6 sessions or less. Some with longstanding, complex concerns use more sessions.
How do I know if I (or a friend) need counseling?
The answer is that you don’t have to know. You can talk to a counselor, who can help you decide if you could benefit from counseling. A prominent myth is that counseling is not effective if a problem is too big, or conversely, too small. The important part that one is motivated to better themselves in some way. “Need” is really a misnomer; can benefit is what counts.
What if I want to help a friend, and am not sure how? Can help me with how to handle the situation?
Yes. We’re glad to provide consultation/guidance on best ways to approach people and situations on a wide range of mental health and interpersonal concerns. We also do conflict mediation for people who find themselves at an impasse dealing with interpersonal issues, such as roommate conflicts, couples communication, etc.
I’ve heard counseling is extremely expensive; how much does it cost?
That is true; counseling in the community is quite expensive. (If someone preferred to go off campus and had insurance, we could help with a referral as well.) However, there is no charge for UTPB students (or faculty and staff). We also provide services for people from the community with our Masters level student apprentices, supervised by a clinical psychologist. There is a modest charge (sliding scale) for them.
Okay, I’ve decided I want counseling—how do I get started?
Just call 552-2365. A counselor will take a few minutes to understand the basic nature of your concerns and schedule an appointment. Almost always an appointment can be set within a week, often for the same day if it seems to be an urgent situation.