What to Expect at Your First Appointment

COVID-19 Service Updates

Many of our usual procedures have changed since transitioning to online services due to COVID-19. We are frequently reassessing our procedures to ensure our services are as safe and accessible as possible. Check back often for the latest updates.

See the latest COVID-19 updates
counseling center lobby

Scheduling the Initial Consultation

The first step to getting connected to counseling services is to schedule an initial consultation appointment by calling us at 312-996-3490. We do our best to meet with you as soon as possible; however, please note that initial consultation appointments may be scheduled several days out at certain peak times. The receptionist will speak with you about the reasons you are seeking services and will help you schedule an initial consultation appointment. If you are experiencing a mental health crisis, please let us know so we can connect you with a crisis counselor as soon as possible.

Before the Initial Consultation

Before your initial consultation appointment, you will be asked to complete some online forms gathering basic information about you, your current concerns, and your mental health history. If you are not able to use a computer, alternate means to complete these forms can be provided. 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 process the forms, we ask that you complete this paperwork at least 30 minutes prior to your scheduled appointment time.

After you have completed all forms, this information goes to your initial consultation therapist to review before your session. After reviewing your completed paperwork, your initial consultation therapist will meet you in the waiting room and walk with you to their office to speak in private. For virtual initial consultation appointments, your initial consultation therapist will send you an e-mail with an encrypted Zoom link.

Three wooden cubicles with computers

During the Initial Consultation

The purpose of the initial consultation is to gather basic information about your mental health history and current concerns, answer any questions you have about our services, and to provide recommendations for specific services that may be helpful in addressing your concerns.

Some students find that talking with a counselor once is sufficient to resolve the immediate concern. If further services would be beneficial, your initial consultation therapist will discuss these and provide a recommendation. These additional services may include services offered by the Counseling Center or referrals to other campus or community resources. Please note that, due to limited availability of our psychiatrist, we cannot offer medication management as a stand-alone service. In some instances, the initial consultation therapist could be the same person that you see for continued services, or you may be referred to another counselor at the center. Although we cannot guarantee that you will be matched with a specific therapist, we recognize that many students prefer to work with therapists with specific gender, racial, sexual, or other identities and we do our best to honor these preferences.

After the Initial Consultation

After the initial consultation, there may be a brief wait for an opening for the recommended service, depending on the general demand at that time for that service. Your counselor will assess the urgency of your situation and this will be considered when making their treatment recommendation.

Additional Resources

Not sure whether therapy is right for you? Check out some of our other resources below that you can access without an initial consultation!

Confidentiality

Your privacy is a top priority for us. We understand that many students have concerns about personal information or identities shared in counseling being shared with others. Information shared with Counseling Services staff are kept confidential within the Counseling Center unless you give your counselor written permission to release specific information. This means that visits here are not part of your academic record, nor are they a part of any medical record you may have at campus medical facilities, such as at UIC Family Medicine.

State and Federal law states that there are exceptions to this general rule, designed to protect, not to punish:

  • You may request (by completing a release of information form or designating an Emergency Mental Health Contact) that your counselor reveal information to other individuals or agencies of your choice;
  • In instances where there is imminent danger of serious harm to yourself or others;
  • In cases involving physical and/or sexual abuse, and/or neglect, of children or elderly adults;
  • Where otherwise requested by subpoena or mandated by court order or state/federal law.