- What types of services are offered by the Counseling Center?
- Why do students typically come for counseling?
- When should I seek personal counseling services?
- How does counseling work?
- Does counseling really help?
- Who is eligible for counseling services?
- What about part-time or students in the Division of Professional & Continuing Education?
- How much does it cost for individual or group therapy?
- Is there a session limit?
- Will I need to take medication?
- What should I do in an emergency?
- How do I make an appointment?
- How can I make an appointment with the psychiatrist?
- What if I need to cancel an appointment?
- What are the qualifications of the Counseling Center's staff?
- What if I have a preference about the kind of counselor I want to see?
- What if I don't feel comfortable with my assigned counselor?
- Can I ask for a specific counselor or a counselor of a particular gender or ethnicity?
- Can I use the Center while maintaining a relationship with a counselor or psychiatrist at home?
- Does the Center offer court-mandated counseling?
- What can I expect during my first counseling visit?
- How many counseling sessions will I receive?
- What are the different types of groups?
- If I am in group therapy, how much information do I have to share?
- How confidential is my contact with the Center?
- How can the Counseling Center help if I am having serious academic problems?
- If I think my friend needs help, how do I get him or her to come in to see you?
- What if I am concerned about another person's behavior?
- What is the Counseling Center's policy on letters for comfort animals?
- What is the Counseling Center's email policy?
- How long will you keep my records?
The Center offers brief individual therapy, group therapy, consultation for faculty, staff, parents, and students, and educational and outreach programs to the campus community. Services are available to students throughout the academic year.
Students come to the counseling center with a range of problems. Many have issues related to their normal development, such as identity or relationship issues. Others are dealing with more specific psychological issues such as depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress, bereavement, substance abuse, or eating and body image issues. Some students aren't sure what the problem might be--they just know they are having a hard time studying, eating, sleeping, or otherwise functioning. A counselor can help students sort out what's wrong in order to help get students back on track.
There are many situations that cause emotional stress that may interfere with your ability to perform at your best while you are studying here at UMD. These may include a death in the family, relationship difficulties, alcohol or drug abuse, a physical illness, sexuality issues, depression, anxiety, family difficulties, study problems, eating concerns or other challenges. In short, anything that interferes with your getting the most out of your experience at UMD or your life in general may be explored in counseling.
Counseling works by helping you objectively look at behaviors, feelings, and thoughts in situations that you find problematic. It helps you to learn more effective ways in dealing with those situations. Counseling is a collaborative effort. You and your personal counselor will identify goals, what you want to happen, and agree on how you will know when you are making progress.
For most students, counseling does help them to make the most of their university experience, both personally and academically. Meeting with a counselor is a chance to explore one's hopes and fears, and determine possible courses of action or resolution in a respectful, professional, and confidential setting. Progress and change can happen. Nine out of ten Americans surveyed by Consumer Reports who had participated in counseling said that counseling had helped them.
UMD students who are enrolled full-time may use the services of Counseling Services. In addition, limited services are available to faculty and staff. Partners of students may also be seen but only as part of couples counseling. If partners need individual service, they will be referred to community agencies.
Although the Center cannot provide on-going services to part-time students, we can help by meeting with part-time students to clarify the nature of a problem and identify off-campus treatment resources.
There is no charge for individual or group therapy. Appointments with the Center's psychiatrist are billed through the student's medical insurance.
We do not currently limit the number of times a student may be seen. Most students find the issue that brought them to the Counseling Center gets resolved with just 4-6 sessions. We do refer students to off-campus treatment providers if they need specialized services or if they need more intensive treatment than the Center can provide.
Being seen for psychotherapy by a counselor does not necessarily mean you will need to take medications. Many psychological problems can be successfully treated without the use of medications. If you and your counselor decide that medications should be considered as an adjunct to counseling, you will need to see a physician (such as a psychiatrist) to be prescribed any medications. Your counselor will discuss referral options (such as our consulting psychiatrist, a local physician, or your hometown providers) with you. It is important to let your counselor know about any medications you have already been prescribed.
In any emergency involving physical harm or a threat to life, please call UMass Dartmouth Police Department by calling 911 or 508.999.9191 immediately. If you are experiencing a psychological crisis, you can call or come to the Counseling Center between the hours of 8am-5pm, Monday through Friday. Let the receptionist know you are requesting a same-day emergency appointment. A counselor will briefly meet with you to determine the best course of action (scheduling an intake appointment with you, referring you to other resources, etc.). If you are experiencing a crisis and it is after hours, please call:
- x9191 on campus or 911 (emergency)
- 508.999.8107 (non-emergency)
- Crisis Call Hotline 775.784.8090
- National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1.800.273.TALK (8255)
- Hope Line Network 1.800.SUICIDE (775.784.2433)
If you are interested in meeting with a counselor, you may call our office at 508.999.8648 or 8650 or stop by the Center's office, located on the second floor of the Auditorium Annex, Monday-Friday, between the hours of 8am and 5pm.
You will need to meet with a counselor first, to take a history and open a chart. If needed, your counselor will make the appointment, then make the appointment with the psychiatrist for you.
If you need to cancel an appointment, please notify us at least 24 hours in advance by calling 508.999.8648 or 8650. "No shows" for appointments with the psychiatrist will be charged $25. "No shows" for individuals or couples counseling and late cancellations will be charged $5.
If we need to cancel an appointment, please understand that sometimes emergency situations arise that take precedence over non-emergency scheduled visits. If we have to cancel your appointment to accommodate one of your peers in crisis, we will phone you or email you to reschedule your appointment at the earliest available time.
UMD is committed to providing the highest quality of counseling and psychological services to its students. To that end, full-time licensed or license-eligible psychologists and counselors staff the Center. The Center also serves as a training site for doctoral and master's-level graduate students in mental health-related fields. The graduate clinicians-in-training are closely supervised by licensed or certified senior clinical staff.
If a student has a preference regarding the kind of counselor s/he wishes to meet with (e.g., man, woman, trainee, senior staff member, etc.), the student should make this known. The secretary will attempt to accommodate such requests whenever possible.
If you are not comfortable with your assigned counselor, please let your counselor or the front desk know. We encourage students to "shop" for a counselor who they feel comfortable with and is a good fit for the problems they want to address.
Yes, if we can, we will accommodate your request.
Yes, the Center's staff would probably want to consult with the home mental health service provider to assure continuity of care, but we encourage students to maintain those relationships as well as build relationships with an on-campus support system.
No. It is the policy of Counseling Services not to provide court mandated counseling. We can help to provide you with appropriate referrals in the community.
After you arrive for your first appointment, you will check in with the receptionist. You will be asked to fill out brief background information sheets and will be given some information to read about counseling and confidentiality. During the first contact with your counselor you will explore what issues you would like to focus on and together you can set up a plan for beginning to work on these goals. Sometimes you may set up weekly appointments with your counselor or at other times you may find appointments every two or three weeks are most helpful. You will discuss these issues with your counselor.
Services at our center are primarily intended to help students with short-term concerns, rather than long-term, intensive psychological needs. This generally means that the most a student will meet in individual, group, or couples therapy is for 1-2 semesters. Students who want or need more frequent or longer-term contact with a counselor are referred to off-campus resources. Students may use group counseling as an adjunct or primary form of treatment. Group sessions are only limited by the number of groups available and the number of times any group meets.
In therapy groups, the emphasis is on change: changing problematic behaviors, attitudes, and emotions. Participants explore personal problems and concerns with a group of persons who have had similar experiences. Discussion includes both present issues and troubling past events, along with the negative consequences of those events. Therapy groups are safe, confidential, and supportive environments to work through problems, heal old hurts, express emotions, learn more about yourself, receive feedback on how others perceive you, and acquire more effective interpersonal behaviors.
In psychoeducational groups, the emphasis is on education and skill development. Participants engage in semi-structured discussions and exercises, role-play, and giving and receiving feedback, with the group leader functioning as a teacher, trainer, and facilitator. The focus is on acquiring information, learning new skills, and refining existing skills pertaining to a specific topic. Psychoeducational groups usually meet weekly for 2-8 weeks, depending on the topic.
You control what, how much, and when you share with the group. No one will force you to reveal your deepest, most personal thoughts. Most people find that as they gradually feel safe enough to share what is troubling them, a group can be very helpful and affirming. However, you can also be helped by listening to others and thinking about how what they are saying might apply to you.
Visits to the Center are strictly confidential. This means that communications between counselor and client are privileged and safe-guarded. Information is not released to anyone (parents, professors, employers, or authorities) without your written permission. In the state of Massachusetts, the confidential relations and communications between licensed psychologists and their clients are placed upon the same basis as those provided by law between attorney and client. There are some exceptions that you need to know about. First, if there is a risk of imminent harm to yourself or another person (e.g., a serious intent to commit suicide or homicide), therapists have a legal and ethical duty to protect life. Second, therapists must release information when a court of law orders them to do so. Third, if we believe a child, elderly person, or mentally retarded person is being abused, therapists are mandated by law to report the abuse. Fourth, if you are in a medical crisis, therapists may sometimes provide necessary medical information (e.g., about medications) to medical personnel.
If a serious personal situation is affecting your academic standing, the Center staff can serve as a liaison with the academic units in the University (such as deans' offices, college advisors and faculty members). We also will handle requests for Medical Leave for mental health reasons and returns from these medical leaves of absence. The purpose of a Medical Leave is to allow a student time to get well and eventually return and succeed academically.
It can be very difficult for you when someone you care about is in pain. You might find yourself feeling helpless, frightened, frustrated or angry. You cannot make your friend seek help if they don't want to or don't feel they need it, but here are some things you might offer as a friend:
- Let your friend know that you are concerned. Suggest that he or she make an appointment with a counselor to see if we can be of help. Try to phrase the communication using "I' language, rather than "you" language. For example, "I care about you and I am sad to see you are hurting" rather than "You are in trouble and need help."
- Offer to sit with your friend while he/she makes an appointment.
- Offer to accompany your friend to their first appointment, and either wait in the waiting area or go to the appointment with him/her.
- Surf the web or the bookstore for information about your friend's problem(s), and pass it along to your friend. Invite him/her to compare reactions with you about the information, or talk about the information with a counselor.
- Come into the Counseling Center yourself, and talk with a counselor about your worries about your friend. You will not need to tell the counselor your friend's name if you think it might upset them. By coming in yourself, you will be showing your friend how to seek out consultation and support, and making it more possible for them to do the same.
Call the Center at X8650 or 8648 if you are concerned about the behavior of a UMD student, faculty, or staff member. Staff members will assist you in exploring available strategies, and will also provide appropriate guidance and resource referrals.
At this time the Counseling Center does not write letters for comfort animal accommodations. In rare circumstances an exception will be made if the student requesting the accommodation has been receiving ongoing therapy. Decisions regarding this accommodation are always made at the discretion of the therapist.
The Counseling Center wants you to be aware that communication via email is not a secure form of communication. Also, emails received from students and counselor's responses may be included in Counseling Services client files for documentation of communication.
In case of an emergency, email should not be used. Counseling staff members vary in the frequency of checking and responding to email. The quickest way to reach a counselor is either by coming to the Counseling Center or by calling the Center (508.999.8648 or 8650). After hours, help can be reached through calling the UMassD Police dispatch (x9191).
We follow the state and national guidelines for confidential records. All such records are required to be kept on file for seven years after your last treatment session unless you are a minor and then your records will be kept for seven years after you reach the age of 18. After the seven year requirement period, your records would normally be destroyed by shredding.