For many people counseling is a new experience, and it is natural to feel nervous about it. We want you to feel as ready as possible, so you can have a positive counseling experience. These are some of the more commonly asked questions people have about counseling.
What is counseling?
Counseling is a collaborative process which involves the development of a unique, confidential, therapeutic, helping relationship. Counseling will be a different experience for different people, as we strive to meet your individual needs based on your unique set of circumstances. What happens during the course of your counseling experience may differ over time, based on your situation, progress, or changes in your life. Your therapist may at times suggest exploring potential solutions such as relaxation training, journaling, role-playing, talking with relevant individuals, reading assignments, or even “homework.” How the therapeutic process will progress depends on your needs and goals.
How do I know if I need counseling?
Generally, it is helpful to seek counseling if you are encountering a struggle that you have had difficulty resolving on your own that is negatively impacting your life or ability to function. People seek counseling for a wide variety of different types of struggles, such as anxiety, depression, relational conflict, marital difficulties, marriage preparation (pre-marital counseling), self-esteem, emotional crisis, suicidal thoughts, self-harm, other safety concerns, disordered eating, alcohol or substance abuse or addition, physical abuse, sexual abuse, other unresolved trauma, family struggles, grief/loss, sexual struggles, struggles with identity, etc.
What should I expect on my first visit?
In your first session, which is called an "intake" appointment, you will be asked basic, informational questions and work with your therapist to establish goals for counseling. This form asks questions such as your name, address, year at ORU and other demographic information as well as some personal history. In addition, they ask what concerns brought you to Student Counseling Services and ask you to review a list of symptoms and experiences you may or may not be having. You may want to print and fill out the form ahead of time. Counseling Intake Form
What is important for me to know?
- Your counselor will expect you to let her/him know what is most important for you to talk about. You may talk about whatever is concerning you. Be aware that when a person first begins to talk about concerns, he or she may have some painful feelings that emerge initially as a result. If you do experience such feelings, talk them over with your counselor.
- Seeking counseling does not mean you are “weak.” Deciding to examine and to work on your issues and concerns is an active and courageous first step in the process of changing your life for the better. Remember that you will be expected to be an active and committed partner in the counseling process.
- Your counselor will not be able to “see through” you or “read your mind.” The more open and honest you are, the more helpful counseling can be. However, you will not be forced to talk about anything you don’t feel ready to talk about. When you do choose to talk about something that is difficult for you, your counselor will listen in a non-judgmental manner.
- As with all relationships, you may occasionally have a misunderstanding with your counselor. It’s important to tell your counselor about any negative or uncomfortable feelings you have about the counselor or the counseling process. These discussions can become an important part of the counseling process.
- As physical conditions can contribute to or be the cause of psychological symptoms, your therapist may recommend a physical evaluation with a medical doctor.
Is what I say in counseling kept confidential?
The Counseling Center staff members follow the professional, legal and ethical guidelines of the American Psychological Association and the state of Oklahoma. This means that information about your counseling sessions is not shared with anyone without your expressed written permission. There are some exceptions to confidentiality, however. If there is the possibility of harm to the client or another person, or in cases of child or elder abuse, Counseling Center staff are mandated to report certain information to the appropriate authorities. As a general, for clients over the age of 18, the therapist is unable to release any information to the client’s parents, professors, or anyone else outside of the ORU Student Counseling Services team without written consent from the client. Please ask your therapist for more information about confidentiality.
How often will I meet with my therapist?
The frequency of therapy is mutually agreed upon by you and your therapist and is largely based on your presenting issues and the goals of treatment. Students usually meet with their counselor once a week for around an hour. It is very important that you arrive early or on-time for your scheduled appointments. Regular, timely attendance of your counseling sessions will help you to achieve your therapeutic goals. If for some reason you are unable to make it to your scheduled session, please call the Counseling Center in advance, preferably 24-hours ahead.
How long will I have to be in counseling?
Many problems can be dealt with in a brief period of time, but this is not always the case. There is no magic number or formula to determine how long it may take. It is important to understand that your counselor will work with the pace that you are comfortable with. Some people heal quickly, while it takes others more time. It all depends on the severity of the problem and many other factors. Just remember that forward is forward, even if it takes time. You and your therapist will speak regularly about your progress. Eventually, you and your therapist may determine that you have met your therapy goals. At this point, you may discuss your need for continued therapy. You may also bring up this topic at any time during your sessions.
What if I need to talk to my counselor between sessions?
If you need to cancel or reschedule an appointment, you are welcome to e-mail your therapist at firstname.lastname@example.org or to call our front desk at 918.495.6581 to discuss rescheduling your appointment. If you have any urgent needs or safety concerns and need to speak to a therapist immediately, please call COPES, a crisis outreach hotline that has therapists by the phone 24/7 at 918.744.4800.
Why is the wait sometimes 2-3 weeks, or more, to meet with a counselor?
ORU does not charge for counseling services. While this provides a great service to our student body, it also means that many people seek our services, especially during peak times in the semester. In most healthcare settings, waiting 2-3 weeks for an appointment is fairly common. Please know that we are doing the best we can to meet the demand we have without compromising the quality of the services that we provide.