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Counseling Center

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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

What services does the Counseling Center provide?
The Counseling Center offers a comprehensive range of clinical functions to the university community. The most prominent are assessment and personal counseling for students, in the form of intake interviews and diagnostic evaluations, individual and couples psychotherapy, group therapy, career counseling, testing, case management, systems interventions and advocacy, and crisis or walk-in services. The Clinical Staff also provide outreach and psycho-educational programming, teaching, consultation to individuals and other units within the university, participation on university committees, and referral to specialized mental health services elsewhere on or off campus. Click on the services link for more information.

Who is eligible for services at the Counseling Center?
All currently enrolled students or those in "continuing student status" are eligible to be a Counseling Services client. (An exception may be made for a non-student who receives couples counseling as a partner with an enrolled student.) Continuing student status includes individuals who are taking a semester off and planning to return the following semester, those who are continuing counseling during the period between semesters, those who enrolled and then withdrew or were dropped within the same semester, and those who are on an authorized leave of absence.

How do I make an appointment?
To make an appointment at the Counseling Center, simply telephone (312-996-3490) or walk-in and speak to the receptionist to schedule a specific time for an initial appointment. If it is an emergency please be sure to let us know.

How long do I have to wait to get an appointment?
We do our best to meet with you as soon as possible and accommodate your schedule, availability for the first appointment varies across the year. Most people are offered a first appointment within several days of your request. The receptionist will speak with you about the reasons you are seeking assistance, and will schedule you with an appropriate counselor.

What if I am in crisis and need to talk with someone right away?
If you are experiencing a life-threatening emergency, call 911 or go to your local emergency room. (UIC Hospital ER is located at 1740 W Taylor Street, Suite 1600, Chicago, IL 60612.)

Those students who present to the Counseling Center in acute need during the hours the Center is open are provided immediate services within the constraints of staff availability, or are provided with appropriate referrals. When the Center is not open you can call the InTouch Crisis Hotline (312-996-5535, available 6-10:30 Sunday-Friday) or to the nearest hospital Emergency Room.

What can I expect from my first appointment?
The first thing you will be asked to do when you arrive is to complete preliminary information forms using a computer in out reception area. (If you are not able to use the computer, alternate means to complete these forms can be provided.) These forms ask about demographic and contact information as well as a questionnaire that gives us an idea of your most pressing concerns. You will also be asked to read and sign forms that explain our confidentiality policy and your rights and responsibilities in counseling. In order to ensure there is enough time to complete this process we ask that you arrive approximately 20-30 minutes prior to your scheduled appointment time. After you have completed all forms this information goes to the receptionist, who will make them available to your scheduled counselor to review before your session.

After reviewing your completed paperwork, a counselor will meet you in the waiting room and walk with you to his/her office to speak in private. The purpose of the first session at the Counseling Center is to assess your concerns and to develop a plan of how to address those concerns. The session can also be used to begin to address any urgent issues. During your meeting with the counselor, you will have a chance to describe why you are seeking assistance and why you have chosen this particular time to do so. The counselor will explain and answer your questions about the counseling process. He or she will ask for information about your present situation, your family background, general health and self care, and important relationships in your life. You may be asked to discuss past experiences with this or similar problems and how you have tried to solve them.

Some students find that talking with a counselor once is sufficient to resolve the immediate concern. If further services would be beneficial, these will be discussed and a recommendation will be made by the counselor. These additional services may include resources offered by the Counseling Center or referral to another campus or community resource.

How much does counseling cost?
There is no charge for counseling. There is a one-time nominal fee for career testing.

What is the Counseling Center policy on Confidentiality?
The Counseling Center adheres to professional ethical standards and all state and federal laws regarding confidentiality. All information is confidential unless you sign a written release of information. There are some exceptions by law, e.g., imminent risk of harm to yourself or someone else, and ongoing child or elder abuse, or in compliance with a court ordered subpoena or petition. In these cases, the Counseling Center either has reporting responsibilities and/or has to intervene in some way.

Will my parents, faculty, and/or others be informed that I am going to the Counseling Center?
No. We cannot release any information about you to another party without your written consent except in the specific situations described above (see FAQ on Confidentiality).

Will the fact that I am seen at the Counseling Center be on my academic record?
No. Counseling Center records are kept completely separate from academic records. In those circumstances where a student chooses to reveal they are a recipient of mental health services as a factor in obtaining academic accommodation, withdrawal from UIC, or re-instatement at UIC, this information may become part of a student's academic record.

Will the fact that I am seen at the counseling Center be on my medical record at UIC (i.e., my record at Family Medicine)?
No. Counseling Center records are kept completely separate from medical records. If you have lab tests at Family Practice (sometimes a requirement when taking certain psychiatrically prescribed medications) there may be a notation that you are seeing a psychiatrist at the Counseling Center. In those circumstances where a student chooses to reveal they are a recipient of mental health services as a factor in obtaining medical treatment, this information may become part of a student's medical record.

Can the Counseling Center help me find a therapist off-campus?
One of the services the Counseling Center provides is assisting students in connecting with appropriate services in the community, when appropriate. This can be especially helpful if you are looking for longer term counseling or are considering leaving or taking some time off from the university before you would be finished with counseling. We have a variety of providers to choose from who work regularly with UIC students including some with sliding fee scales.

Does the Counseling Center prescribe psychiatric medication?
We have a psychiatrist on staff who can prescribe medication to students who are in ongoing therapy at the center. If you are already taking medication and are looking to transfer you care to UIC without entering therapy, we can assist you with referral options on campus or in the community. See the description of Psychiatric services for more details.

What is Group Therapy and how does it work?
In a therapy group, six to eight people meet face-to-face with two trained group therapists and talk about what is troubling them. Members give feedback to each other by expressing their own feelings about what someone says or does. This interaction gives group members an opportunity to try out new ways of behaving and to learn more about the way they interact with others. What makes the situation unique is that it is a safe system. The content of the group sessions is confidential; what members talk about or disclose is not to be discussed outside the group. Members work to establish a level of trust that allows them to talk personally and honestly. Group trust is enhanced when all members make a commitment to the group.

When people come into a group and interact freely with other group members, they usually recreate those difficulties that brought them to group therapy in the first place. Under the skilled direction of the group therapists, the group is able to give support, offer alternatives, or gently confront the person. In this way the difficulty becomes resolved, alternative behaviors are learned, and the person develops new social techniques or ways of relating to people. During group therapy, people begin to see that they are not alone. Many people feel they are unique because of their problems, and it is encouraging to hear that other people have similar difficulties.

Common Myths and Misperceptions about Group Therapy and why they are not true:

"I will be forced to tell all of my deepest thoughts, feelings and secrets to the group."
Group members are never forced to disclose any information if they are not ready or do not want to. In group, you get to control what, how much, and when you share information with other group members. Group members share what is troubling them when they feel safe enough to do so and safety within a group is a unique and personal experience that will vary for everyone. We encourage you to share when you are ready to do so and until then you can also be helped by listening to others and thinking about how what they are saying might apply to you.

"Group therapy will take longer than individual therapy because I will have to share the time with others."
Actually, group therapy is often more efficient than individual therapy for two reasons. First, you can benefit from the group even during sessions when you find yourself listening to others more than talking about your own issues. You will find that you have much in common with other group members, and as they work on a concern, you can learn more about yourself. Secondly, group members will often bring up issues that that are different than the ones that brought you to therapy, but also may be affecting you. In that way, you may address issues that you were not immediately aware that you wanted to address.

"I will be verbally attacked or ganged up on by the leaders or other group members."
One of the most important issues within group therapy is that group members feel safe. Your group leaders are there to help develop and facilitate a safe environment. We know that feedback can often be difficult to hear and as group members come to trust and accept one another, they generally experience feedback as a sign of caring. One of the benefits of group therapy is the opportunity to receive feedback from others in a supportive environment. It is rare to find friends who will gently point out how you might be behaving in ways that hurt yourself or others, but this is precisely what group can offer.

"Group therapy is second-best to individual therapy."
Group therapy is being recommended to you because your intake counselor believes that it is the best way to address your concerns. We do not put people into group therapy because we don't have space in individual therapy, or because we want to save time. We offer several types of group and we only add members to a group if both you and the group leaders believe it would be a good fit. Your intake counselor can discuss with you why group is what we recommend for you.

"I'm not comfortable talking in groups; I'll never be able to share in a group."
This is a very common concern and believe it or not, many people are anxious about being able to talk in group. In our experience, within a few sessions most people find that themselves comfortable enough to begin talking and sharing in the group. Everyone in the group was a new member at some point, so you will most likely get a lot of support opening up at your own pace.

Suite 2010
Student Services Building
1200 West Harrison

Tel: (312) 996-3490

Fax: (312)996-7645

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