Counseling is only for people who have serious emotional problems.
Fact: Seeing a counselor does not mean that you are mentally ill or "crazy". Everyone has difficulties at some point in their lives, being able to ask for help is a sign of maturity, health, and strength.
Seeking counseling is a sign of weakness.
Fact: It takes courage to explore sensitive feelings and painful experiences. Individuals who enter counseling are taking a first step in resolving their difficulties.
Going to counseling means that I'm out of control.
Fact: Actually, going to counseling is a way of taking control. Talking to a counselor is a great way to take control of your thoughts, feelings, and behaviors; and to make changes to improve your quality of life. Since mood and behavior effect the people around us, an improved quality of life has obvious benefits for those around you as well.
The counselor cannot understand me unless s/he has had similar experiences or is of the same background.
Fact: No one is the only person who has ever gone through an experience. Individual reactions to the same event or experience can vary widely, but basic human emotions are the same across individuals and cultures. You do not have to personally experience the same thing as another individual to understand what it might be like. Counselors are trained to be sensitive to and respectful of individual differences, including specific concerns of students with regard to gender, race/ethnicity, religion, age, sexual orientation, and socio-economic status. Working with an empathic, objective, respectful counselor is very powerful and can result in tremendous changes in feelings, thoughts, and behaviors.
Counseling is a last resort.
Fact: Most of us do not think that we have to experience a heart attack before we can see a doctor; it is OK to go if we merely have a sprained ankle. The same applies to counseling - you don't have to have the emotional equivalent of a heart attack to see a counselor. By working with a counselor you can often get back on track much faster and save yourself a lot of unnecessary distress.
I have a great family and supportive friends; I don't need to talk to a counselor.
Fact: Friends and family can be great sources of support and advice, and social support is one of the best mediators of stress and other psychological issues. But, these individuals can be biased in our favor (in fact, we like for them to be!) and, therefore, less able to help us see different perspectives, different solutions and so forth.
The wait time for counseling services is too long.
Fact: As with many services on campus, there are clear ebbs and flows to the demand that may impact students' wait to be served. Our office offers on-call and emergency services 24 hours a day 7 days a week for students who are experiencing a mental health crisis. Most students can get an initial appointment within 3-7 days of calling . We also encourage students to be proactive in their self-care by making appointments to transfer medications when you have at least one refill left, calling to make an appointment when you start noticing symptoms, and being on time for and attending your appointments.
My family and people at school will find out about my problems.
Fact: The things you discuss with your counselor and the contents of your counseling record are subject to strict legal and ethical standards of confidentiality and privacy. These records do not become part of your educational records. The counseling center does not even acknowledge that you have been seen by a counselor without your written permission.There are, however, a few limits on confidentiality. These are reviewed with each client during their first appointment. These limits include: When an individual reports that s/he is considering hurting him/herself or others, if there is an indication of child abuse or neglect, or a court order. Additionally, the Counseling Center staff works as a team and may consult with each other from time to time.
The counselor will tell me what to do and how to "fix" my problems.
Fact: Counseling is not a "quick fix" for your problems. The counselor's role is to help you explore your feelings, thoughts, and concerns; to examine your options and to assist you in achieving the goals you have set.
If I talk about drinking alcohol or doing drugs, I'll get in trouble.
Fact: Unless you are in imminent danger of hurting yourself or others, your confidentiality remains intact. The Center for Counseling and Student Development does not disclose information about students using drugs or alcohol to the Office of Student Rights and Responsibilities unless you are in a mandated program. CCSD does not disclose information about students using drugs or alcohol to the police unless there is an emergency situation where this is relevant.
If I go to counseling, they're just going to give me a pill.
Fact: Medication is not right for everyone. If your counselor thinks that medication may be helpful, s/he will talk to you about seeing a psychiatrist. If you agree, your counselor will schedule an appointment for you with a psychiatrist. Meeting with the psychiatrist does not automatically mean that you will be started on medication. Rather, if s/he believes that medication is appropriate, s/he will discuss the benefits and risks of various medications with you. The ultimate decision is yours and should be a well-informed one. If you decide to give medication a try, you will continue to be involved in counseling as well.
For more information call to make an appointment to speak with a counselor.
(Adapted from Buffalo State SUNY Counseling Center website)