To make an appointment, call the Center at 328-6661 weekdays during regular business hours, between 8am - 5pm. Every effort is made to see students for initial appointments in a timely manner. However, there may be as much as a 2-3 week wait for individual appointments during peak times. Students experiencing an emergency* (see below for more information) should make this known, so that they may be seen as soon as possible. Please arrive 30 minutes before your assigned appointment time to complete paperwork. Be aware that this process takes time, and students arriving more than 15 minutes late will be required to reschedule their appointment.
You will then meet with a counselor for approximately 20-30 minutes. The counselor will ask questions about the issue that brings you to the counseling center, as well as background information (history of the problem, the impact of the issue on your personal functioning, and any other information that may help the counselor recommend the best course of treatment). The counselor will discuss treatment options with you, and together you will decide the course of treatment that will best help you to address the issue. Except where noted, most students will participate in only one of the following treatment options at a time:
Individual Counseling is provided for the student who wishes to discuss particular issues relative to her/his personal life. Counseling is a process of exploring issues, learning new ways of coping, and increasing satisfaction with life. The counselor can assist you in clarifying goals and exploring options to problems through careful listening, guiding self-exploration, suggesting new perspectives for consideration, and providing new information. See more information about individual counseling.
Relationship counseling involves both members of the couple meeting with a counselor to address communication and relationship problems. To be eligible for this service, both partners must be enrolled ECU students. See more information about couples/partner counseling.
Group counseling usually involves 5-8 students meeting with one or two counselors to address issues of shared concern within the group. For most people, group therapy is the most effective and appropriate treatment option. See more information about group counseling.
Counseling services are provided in a confidential, non-judgmental manner. Students can seek assistance with assessment, consultation, individual/group counseling, and referral. Many students refer themselves for concerns related to their own substance use and for support in their recovery efforts. Also, workshops are offered to individuals referred by various on and off campus offices. Outreach programs are provided throughout the campus with the goal of educating our ECU community about the risks of alcohol and other drug abuse including strategies to minimize these risks.
For some students, medication may be helpful in addressing the presenting concern or for follow-up on previously prescribed medications. The psychiatrist will write prescriptions when appropriate and follow-up with students to make adjustments to medications as necessary. To be eligible for this service, you must also attend individual counseling on a regular basis, with the frequency to be determined by your individual counselor. See more information about medication consulations.
The Counseling Center utilizes a brief model of counseling, which means that a student will typically receive 4 to 8 individual counseling sessions, with no more than 12 individual counseling sessions per academic year. Although many presenting issues can be addressed within a brief model, some issues are more difficult to overcome, requiring longer-term treatment. We can provide you with a referral to a counselor in the Greenville area. See more information about referrals/case management.
The Center for Counseling and Student Development no longer facilitates current semester medical or psychological withdrawals. Any requests for withdrawals should be directed to the Dean of Students office, and their information can be found here.
The Counseling Center provides a variety of workshops and seminars that are open to all ECU students, regardless of whether or not you have ever attended counseling. No appointments are necessary for these events. See more information about workshops and seminars.
Crisis counseling is available to students in emergency situations, such as: having a current plan to attempt suicide or to inflict bodily harm on another person, recent physical/sexual assault, hearing or seeing things that do not exist, etc. This service operates on a first-come-first-served basis, and is akin to utilizing a hospital's emergency room for a medical crisis. Sessions offered through Crisis Service are relatively brief, usually less than 30 minutes, and focus on stabilizing the crisis and creating a plan of action.
If you are currently experiencing a psychological crisis or emergency situation, please call the Center immediately at 328-6661 during regular business hours to arrange an immediate crisis appointment. If you experience a psychological crisis after regular business hours, you can access our On-Call Counselor by contacting the ECU Police Department at 328-6787. If you are away from the Greenville area, please call 911 or access your local hospital emergency department.
Individual counseling is a process of exploring issues, learning new ways of coping, and increasing satisfaction with life. Counselors typically provide a combination of support and challenge to help you understand your concerns from angles you may not have considered, and to do so in a space that is confidential and “safe” for this type of exploration (please see our Confidentiality Statement). Although your counselor may give direct advice at times, the objective of most counseling is to assist you in identifying and exploring alternative solutions so that you may find the solution that fits the best for you. Counseling is not telling you what to do, how to feel, or who to be. Rather, counseling will help you feel supported as you determine what you want to do, how you feel, and who you want to be. Common reasons students come to the Center include concerns related to depression, anxiety and stress, relationship issues, identity development, substance use problems, and issues within your family, among many others.
While one of the goals of counseling is often to feel better than you do right now, your personal counseling journey may be relatively unpredictable. The path each client takes varies greatly, depending upon presenting concerns, individual characteristics, and any obstacles that may be in the way. For some, the journey may be fairly simple – find a solution and go with it. For others, the path to healthier living requires difficult, in-depth exploration of thoughts and feelings that they would rather bury somewhere deep inside. For these individuals, it can seem as though it feels worse before it feels better. This is why it’s so important for you to know that counseling is a commitment, and it can often require you to work very hard.
Our counselors have each had extensive training in mental health counseling and have experience working with clients with a broad range of presenting concerns. To learn more about us, please click here. Sessions usually last about forty-five minutes and the frequency of appointments will be determined with your counselor. The number of sessions varies depending on the issues involved. It has been our experience that most, but not all, students' concerns can be addressed in four to eight sessions. There is a maximum of 12 sessions per academic year.
For some students, it may take more than 12 counseling sessions to achieve desired results. This tends to be true for individuals with a complex constellation of concerns, history of severe trauma, multiple hospitalizations for mental health concerns, or other extensive mental health treatment. At times, a referral to a mental health provider in the community may be the most appropriate option to meet the needs of a student. We work with a number of providers in the Greenville area, and would be happy to help you get connected with one of them. To learn more about community referrals, please see our community referrals section.
Most issues that are discussed in individual counseling may also be addressed through participation in group counseling. In fact, for a majority of counseling clients, group counseling is MORE effective than individual counseling. Curious to know why? Take a look at our group counseling section.
Relationship counseling aims to help both members in the relationship to examine the difficulties (and yes, the strengths too!) in the relationship, in an effort to improve communication, problem-solving, and connectedness with your partner. The couple will meet with a counselor experienced in relationship counseling, and both partners typically need to attend all sessions together. Issues frequently discussed in relationship counseling include communication, getting individual needs met, sexual intimacy, extended family, and future-oriented planning, among others.
Relationship counseling may be available for any romantic pairing of currently-enrolled ECU students, depending on current staff expertise and availability. Your counselor will work to understand your relationship and the issues you face, help to identify patterns of behavior, and aid both partners in taking steps toward improving the ways in which you relate to one another. It is important for both partners to be committed to the counseling process and open to change. Relationship counseling is not about who is “right” or which partner “causes all the problems.” Therefore, both partners must be willing to explore the role they each play in relational issues. Both partners must be currently enrolled ECU students.
Because the focus of couples’/partners’ counseling is on the relationship itself, it is best if both members of the couple are in relatively stable mental health at the outset of relationship counseling. If one or both partners are dealing with significant mental health concerns beyond the relationship issues (significant depression, suicidal ideation, hallucinations, addictions, etc.), it is often advised that that person seek individual counseling prior to (or concurrently with) couples’ counseling. If both individual and couples’ counseling is requested, the CCSD will provide one form of counseling and you will likely be referred to a mental health provider in the community for treatment either individually or as a couple. Please see the individual counseling section and the community referrals section for more information.
Group counseling provides a supportive and challenging environment in which members can discuss their concerns with both professionals and peers. Group members have a unique opportunity to explore mutual issues in the context of a “safe space” (see below for more information about confidentiality in group counseling). Group counseling offers multiple perspectives on issues and members are challenged to see things from multiple vantage points. Counseling groups cover a wide variety of topics and issues, including certain mood concerns, skill building, and/or specific populations. See below for a list of the groups that are currently available at the counseling center. Groups typically consist of 5-8 group members and 1 or 2 counselors. Most groups meet on the same day and time each week for 1.5 hours.
Groups often create an environment that in many ways mirror one’s experience interacting with others outside of group, except that it’s done so with some controls built in so that members feel more safe in their interactions. Members may be challenged to think about the way they currently interact, and the safety allows group members to try out new behaviors and new ways of communicating. Trust and support grow within the group as members share their concerns and find connections with each other. The trust and support then provide a foundation for members to give and receive feedback and suggestions with one another.
Another advantage of group counseling is that it helps people realize that they are not alone in their concerns. Although no two life experiences are exactly alike, group members tend to find that others have experienced similar difficulties, and this recognition can be an encouraging and empowering experience. Hearing and sharing different ways of coping with similar problems often helps one to develop new ways of managing the issue.
In addition, group counseling offers a more consistent approach to getting your counseling needs met. Whereas individual counseling sessions at the counseling center may be available only every other week, your group will typically meet weekly at the same time. As a result, you may be able to receive needed support more frequently in group counseling. A comment heard frequently in the group room is, “Thank goodness today is group day! I couldn’t wait to tell you all what happened…”
Role of the Group Counselor
Depending upon the size of the group, 1 or 2 counselors will facilitate the sessions. The counselor(s) will provide guidelines to help build a trusting environment so that students can work together supportively and safely. They also help members to better understand themselves and their interactions with others.
In group counseling, confidentiality is the responsibility of each person in the room, both counselors and group members. The group counselors are bound by professional standards of confidentiality and will not release any information to outside sources without your written permission (see our Statement on Confidentiality). Group members are also expected to keep information confidential, including not only the information others have shared in group, but also the identities of group members. The trust that develops in group must be reciprocal among all members. “What happens in group stays in group.”
Expectations for Group Members
1. Confidentiality: Each group member will sign a confidentiality agreement, and confidentiality will be discussed in the first group session and throughout the course of group counseling. Any group member who breaks confidentiality may be asked to leave the group.
2. Attendance: Group counseling is a commitment, and members are expected to attend every session unless they are sick or have a personal emergency. In such cases, the individual should contact the CCSD (328-6661) to inform the facilitator of the absence. It is natural to feel anxious about participating in a group, and this feeling sometimes results in individuals wanting to leave the group after the first session or two. Please be aware that other members likely feel anxious too, so results take time. Though it may be hard to imagine now, members will begin to care about one another and will feel unresolved if you leave the group prematurely or without explanation.
3. Relationships with Other Members: Group is not a place to hang out with your friends. Therefore every effort is made, when possible, to ensure that group members do not have prior knowledge of each other. It is also important that during the duration of the group, members do not socialize with one another between group meetings. Group members socializing with each other can easily result in other group members feeling excluded, which can quickly disrupt the progress of the entire group.
4. Active Participation: It can be anxiety-provoking to share personal information with new people, especially if you are quiet by nature. No one expects you to suddenly start talking up a storm. What we do hope is that you might be willing to take an occasional risk to help us get to know you. It is awfully difficult to help someone reach a goal without understanding how they are impacted by the issue. No one will be forced to talk, but keep in mind that the more you put into your group interactions, the more benefit you are likely to receive from them.
Again, we understand how anxiety-provoking it may be to do something as foreign as joining a counseling group. But that means you already have something in common with most other people who will be there. As mentioned before, group counseling is THE MOST EFFECTIVE form of treatment for many common issues. Do you find that hard to believe? You’ll just have to try it for yourself. We think you’ll be pleasantly surprised.
Current Groups found on this page
Many mental health concerns may be addressed with the assistance of medication. Psychiatrists on staff at the counseling center meet this need by providing evaluations for new prescriptions, as well as follow-up care for existing prescriptions. Research shows that medication for the treatment of mental health concerns is most beneficial when combined with counseling, and our counseling center policy is consistent with this research. Clients who are prescribed medication by a counseling center psychiatrist must also attend counseling in order to remain eligible for continued psychiatrist visits. Students who fail to comply with this policy or who do not desire to engage in counseling services may be referred to a provider in the community for services.
Some students who come to the counseling center for assistance may be better served by working with a community provider. For such instances, we can often help you get connected with a provider in the Greenville or surrounding area. There are many reasons why a student might be referred to a community provider, ranging from needing specialized treatment that is not offered within the Center to a student wanting or needing to work with a counselor longer than the Center’s short-term model allows. Working with a counselor outside of the Center is often the most helpful option for students who want to explore an issue in great depth that may not be achieved within our brief model of counseling.
In addition to counseling-based services, the Center for Counseling and Student Development offers programming on a variety of topics to numerous groups throughout the year. Many seminars and workshops are open to all currently-enrolled ECU students, and do not require advanced notice that you plan to attend. Please see the description for each event for more information regarding time, place, and target audience.