What is counseling?
Counseling is a conversational process focused on identifying and exploring problems you are experiencing, developing skills to work through current concerns, and finding ways to deal with similar situations in the future. It is an opportunity for you to talk in a safe, confidential space with a professional trained to help you gain perspective on your behavior and relationships, change unhealthy thought patterns, express your feelings, and develop communication skills.
Who goes to counseling?
Many students seek counseling after recognizing that they continue to experience difficulties despite their efforts at improvement. They may have already consulted with family and friends, or found that their usual ways of dealing with problems are not working anymore. Students come to the Counseling Service for all kinds of reasons, including relationship issues, academic concerns, sleep difficulty, identity questions and development, depression, anxiety, stress, family problems, eating and body image concerns, and trauma.
If I go to counseling, does that mean I’m “crazy”?
Absolutely not! One of the many myths surrounding counseling is that it is only for people with mental illness or for people who are “too weak to deal” with life. Everyone faces problems, and sometimes it is difficult to find solutions on your own. Seeking help is a sign of strength; it means you are aware that your problems are negatively affecting your life and you are actively working to make positive changes.
How much does counseling cost?
All services provided are free of charge to currently enrolled students.
Is long-term therapy offered on campus?
In general, Counseling Service clinicians work from a brief therapy model focused on your presenting concerns. In an initial meeting, you and your counselor will talk about whether your problems can be addressed in short-term therapy. If it seems that longer-term therapy would better meet your needs, you will be offered a referral off-campus to a counselor in the surrounding community who is on your health insurance panel.
What should I do if I need more counseling?
Please don’t hesitate to call if you are struggling. You can consult with a counselor in person or by phone about what to do. The counselor will assess your situation and make a recommendation about next steps. Sometimes meeting just once more will feel like enough; other times you might be referred to an off-campus therapist who has the ability to meet with you more regularly.
Emergency services are always available if you are a currently enrolled student, whether or not you have seen a counselor that year.
Does my situation constitute a crisis/emergency?
If at any time you are feeling confused and disoriented, are having thoughts about harming yourself or someone else, or do not feel in control of your thoughts and/or behavior, please contact us immediately. During business hours you can call or walk in to request an emergency appointment. More information about how to access urgent concerns or emergency services.
There may be other times when you feel it is important to talk with someone as soon as possible (e.g., you’ve experienced the death of someone close to you, received difficult news from home, or been sexually assaulted). If you call and are offered an appointment time you feel you cannot wait for, please let us know and we will do our best to accommodate you.
Will anyone know that I’ve been to therapy?
All services provided by the Counseling Service are kept strictly confidential according to Massachusetts state laws. Our clinicians respect your privacy and take confidentiality very seriously. We believe that therapy works best when you feel that you can be open and honest about your thoughts and feelings. We do not share any information about you outside of the Counseling Service without your permission to release it. Roommates, parents, friends, faculty, and deans will not know that you are being seen here unless we have your permission to tell them. Exceptions to confidentiality occur only under certain, very specific conditions (see "Confidentiality" in our Guiding Principles). The confidentiality policy will be reviewed with you during your first appointment at the Counseling Service. If you have any questions, please ask your counselor or call us for more information.
I'm considering a medical leave. What should I do?
If your mental health condition is interfering with your studies and you think you might benefit from taking time away from the college, you may wish to consider a medical leave. We recommend that you schedule an appointment to speak with a counselor about what is going on and your range of options so that you can make the most informed decision possible. For more information about medical leave, please see the Academic Deans' page.
What are the steps to return from medical leave?
If you feel you are ready to return from medical leave, you should contact the Director of the Counseling Service the semester before you intend to return. You will schedule a phone appointment during which you will be asked to talk about the circumstances surrounding your decision to take the leave, what you have done during your time away from the college, and your readiness to return. You will also be asked to submit a letter from a current mental health provider as documentation of your readiness to return. Deadlines to initiate your return are firm. Requests or inquiry regarding a return from medical leave must be made by May 1 for the fall semester and November 1 for the spring semester.
Can my counselor prescribe psychiatric medication?
No. Our staff psychiatrist is available to meet with students to assess current symptoms and determine whether medication might help.
Can I make an appointment with the psychiatrist?
Students must meet with a Counseling Service clinician before making an appointment with the psychiatrist. If you are already working with a clinician at the Counseling Service, you can talk about a referral to the psychiatrist. Otherwise, please call to schedule an intake appointment with a clinician and request an appointment with the psychiatrist during your first meeting.
Can the psychiatrist prescribe medicine for ADHD?
No. Students who need evaluations or prescriptions for ADHD medicines are referred off-campus to psychiatrists in the local community. Please call if you are in need of a referral.
What should I do if I think a student needs help?
If you are unsure if a student needs help and/or you are unsure how to help , you can call the Counseling Service and consult with one of the staff clinicians. When you call, identify yourself as a faculty member and let the receptionist know how urgent the situation is. Do you need help immediately, by the end of the day, or within the next week? This information will help the receptionist route your call.
Must I give the student’s name when I consult?
It is most helpful if you do provide the name. That way, we can more effectively respond especially if we are actively seeing the student. That being said, if your inquiry/concern is benign enough that we do not need to respond or intervene, a name may not be necessary.
Will the student know that I called?
You should be asked by the clinician when you call whether or not you are comfortable with us giving your name to the student. If it is information we need to act on by doing a well-being check or intervening in some way, we will either provide your name with your permission or let the student know that “a concerned community member” gave us the information. If you are the only person the student confided in, you may be identifiable.
Can I email the Counseling Service about students?
It is best to initiate contact with a phone call. Some of our staff is part-time, so e-mail may not be checked every day, whereas if you call, you can be immediately directed to someone who is able to address your concern that day.
Do I have to grant a withdrawal/extension request?
Absolutely not. By authorizing a course withdrawal or extension, we are simply documenting the fact that an illness affected a student’s ability to complete her coursework. In so doing, we are relying on you as the faculty member to decide whether or not the extension or withdrawal is warranted as per the academic integrity of your classroom. For example, when a student is authorized for an extension but, unbeknownst to us, has not completed work since the 4th week of the semester and has not been attending class, you should most likely say no to the extension and perhaps suggest a course withdrawal instead. The Dean of Studies office is the best resource for guidelines around these types of decisions.
For which issues do students commonly seek help?
Depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, eating issues, relational issues, academic difficulties, stress, self-injury, suicidality, trauma, identity concerns, and developmental stressors.
Can MHC employees utilize the Counseling Service?
The Counseling Service can only treat currently enrolled students, but we will consult with employees around issues with students. For non-student concerns, we can recommend therapists in the local area or you can access the Employee Assistance Program (EAP) through Human Resources. They offer valuable resources — usually for free.
Can I get more info about the Counseling Service?
Call us at 413-538-2037. For urgent matters, ask for the emergency clinician.