Counseling and YOU
University Counseling Service
3223 Westlawn S.
What is this page about?
It is quite common to experience difficulties throughout life. At times one may seek the assistance of a counselor or therapist in order to better understand and deal with one’s concerns. For those considering counseling, this page provides an overview of the counseling process—what to expect from your counselor, what your responsibilities are in counseling, some tips on how to benefit from counseling, and some difficulties that might emerge in the course of counseling.
What you can expect from your counselor
You can expect someone who is interested in listening to your concerns and in helping you develop a better understanding of them so that you may deal with them more easily and effectively. Your counselor will take you seriously and be willing to openly discuss anything you wish to discuss. Your counselor will be willing to answer some questions about herself or himself directly and honestly. Because counselors have different beliefs about how people change, they differ on how much talking they do in sessions, whether they ask you to do "homework", and their focus of discussion. If you have any questions about what is going on, by all means ask. Counselors have no "magical" skills or knowledge, and will be unable to solve your problems directly for you. Your counselor will want to work with you, but won’t do for you what you are capable of doing for yourself. Except under unusual circumstances such as imminent risk of harm to self or others or lawful subpoena of client files, your counselor will maintain strict confidentiality about you, and will openly discuss this with you
Your responsibilities in counseling
Your main responsibilities in counseling are to attend your regularly scheduled sessions, talk about what is bothering you as openly and honestly as you can, and complete any tasks or "homework" assignments you may be asked to do. You are expected to let your counselor know if you are unable to make it to a session. Most counseling will require you to try something new or a "different approach." Another thing your counselor will expect is for you to be willing to experiment and try things out without jumping to conclusions. You are also expected to let your counselor know when your problems have been solved as well as let your counselor know if you don’t feel like you’re making any progress. This latter point is most important; your counselor is most interested in your benefiting from counseling.
What is counseling?
Simply stated, counseling is any relationship in which one person is helping another person to better understand and solve some problem. Friends and relatives provide a type of counseling, as do clergy, academic advisors, teachers, and many others. The staff at the University Counseling Service (UCS) are different from others who may offer counseling because of their extensive training in psychology and human behavior. They have a broad range of experience in developing "helping relationships" and working with many different situations.
Common difficulties in counseling
One of the most difficult steps in counseling occurs before you even see a counselor for the first time. Deciding to seek counseling is the first step in change. Once this decision has been made, the mechanics for change have been set in motion. In the process of changing the way you think, feel, or behave, you usually must try out new ways of doing things. This can make you anxious or frustrated. Also, in the course of counseling you may come to realize that things you once thought of only in a positive or negative way you may see a bit differently. The challenges of pushing on your limitations may also cause you frustrations, but with commitment and practice, you will find that you can stretch your limits and find new and exciting aspects of yourself.
Tips on how to benefit from counseling
- Attend your sessions and take an active part in them.
- Be ready to focus on a specific problem or issue.
- Be prepared for your sessions.
- Complete (or at least attempt) any "homework."
- Tell your counselor if you don’t think you’re being helped.
The University Counseling Service has a strong commitment to meeting the needs of diverse people. In all individual, group, and program services, we strive to create an environment where all people feel welcome. As a staff, we attempt to facilitate mutual respect and understanding among people of diverse racial, ethnic, national, and cultural backgrounds, sexual/affectional orientation, mental and physical abilities, language, class, age, religion/spiritual beliefs, as well as other types of diversity.