Frequently Asked Questions

What services does SCS provide?

SCS offers a variety of services including individual counseling, group therapy, medication management, consultation to students, staff, and faculty, educational programming/outreach, as well as crisis intervention and referral services.

What kind of problems do you treat?

SCS counselors work with most issues such as:

  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Adjustment problems to school
  • Roommate issues
  • Family concerns
  • Relationship concerns
  • Grief or Loss Issues
  • Stress management
  • ADHD
  • Abuse issues
  • Sexual Assault
  • Traumatic Events
  • Substance Abuse
  • Bipolar Disorder
  • Eating Disorders

How do I know whether I should utilize SCS services?

If you have questions about if counseling is right for you, you are welcome to schedule a consultation to speak with one of our clinicians. Consultation with our professional staff may help you answer the question of whether you should consider counseling.

If the specific question that you have is not listed below, please feel free to contact the Student Counseling Services at 540-831-5226.

I think my friend should talk to someone at SCS. What can I do?

It might be helpful for you to schedule a consultation with one of our counselors. While you cannot counsel your friend or force them to go to counseling, there may be ways to talk with them about your concerns and share with them the resources you know about (i.e. counseling services or other community services). We can walk you through this conversation depending on the situation as well as provide you with support.

Who is eligible for services at SCS?

Currently enrolled students may be eligible for services at SCS.  In rare situations, staff may deny services to students whose concerns are beyond the scope of this office to effectively treat.  Examples of possible concerns that may result in outside referrals include the following:  students who need longer term counseling than the SCS can provide;  students who have been psychiatrically hospitalized possibly due to a temporary detention order;  students with severe drug abuse or dependence;  and students who are non-compliant or create a hostile work environment.  SCS staff will assist students in finding appropriate local referral sources when any of these situations occur.  Students are always eligible for emergency assessments.

How do I make an appointment?

When you call SCS at 540-831-5226, our office staff will help to schedule an intake appointment with one of our clinicians, or if you prefer, please visit the office to schedule an intake appointment. SCS requires students to schedule their own appointments. At the time of your first contact with us, the office staff will ask some demographic information such as your name, student ID, class year and phone number.

How long do I have to wait to get an appointment?

When you initially call, you will usually be able to schedule an initial appointment or intake within five business days. We make every effort to see students as quickly as possible based upon the needs of the student.

What if I am in crisis and need to talk with someone right away?

If you are experiencing a life-threatening emergency, call the university Campus Police at 540-831-5500 or 911. If you are experiencing a mental health emergency that is not life- threatening call 540-831-5226 and SCS will work to meet with you as quickly as possible often within the same day. We are available in the office on Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

What can I expect from my first appointment?

During your first appointment, or intake, you will be asked to come in 10-15 minutes prior to your scheduled appointment time to fill out our paperwork. You will then meet in-person with one of our counselors for 50-60 minutes to discuss your concerns. The counselor will gather some information and relevant history in order to gain a better understanding of your concerns and determine which services will best meet your needs. This may involve individual counseling, group therapy, seeing a psychiatrist, or a referral to a community provider who can better meet your needs. The counselor will discuss this with you thoroughly. If individual counseling is deemed appropriate, you will be scheduled for a return appointment.

What should students expect in counseling?

Counseling is a type of learning about oneself, one's feelings, and one's relationships with others. As in any learning environment, students will benefit most if they participate actively, attend sessions on time and are open and honest with the counselor.

In turn, the counselor will listen to the student's concerns, assist him/her in setting and reaching appropriate goals and will respect his/her confidentiality. Our staff abides by the ethical principles of our pertinent licensing boards and students can expect to have services delivered in a professional, legal and ethical manner.

During the first one or two sessions, the counselor will gather basic information about student concerns, overall health, daily life, goals for service and other background information. The counselor will assist you in establishing goals for your therapy. Throughout counseling, student and counselor work collaboratively. In addition to "talk-therapy" sessions, students are often encouraged to try out new behaviors, to use books and other resources to increase their understanding and coping skills and to use other campus and community resources as appropriate. Often counselors will assign "homework" which occurs between sessions and this can be as important as the discussions that occur within sessions.

Participation in counseling is a personal choice. We encourage each student to talk with his/her counselor about any questions regarding progress, the therapy process, SCS policies and procedures and so forth. If student concerns require interventions that are outside the scope of our services, the counselor will offer referrals to other services on campus and in the community.

What if I don’t like my counselor or if I am not happy with the treatment?

SCS policy is for the student to inform the counselor if possible about any concerns about the therapy process. SCS therapists are often able to make changes in the focus or style of therapy preferred if they are informed. If the student is unable to address this directly or if the changes made are not sufficient, then a consult can be arranged with the SCS director to determine if a change in therapist or outside referral is needed. Please tell your therapist or an office associate if you would like to schedule a consult.

Does SCS prescribe psychiatric medication?

Yes. Our psychiatrist can evaluate students for medications and prescribe them as needed during the fall and spring semesters. Students must first have an intake appointment with a counselor and complete mental health screening questionnaires before an intake appointment with the M.D. can be made.

Can I get my ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) medications from SCS?

As of 8/1/13:

If a student has previously been diagnosed with ADHD and has received medications from a home provider, the student should continue to receive the ADHD medication from that provider for continuity of care. Virginia regulations allow stimulant medication prescriptions to be written up to three months permitting future refills.

If the student presents with a more complex case in which the student may need closer monitoring, the SCS provider may prescribe medications in conjunction with a treatment plan with the home provider.

If the student presents with a recent diagnosis of ADHD (during the academic year), with appropriate documentation, the SCS provider may prescribe ADHD medications. The medical provider may request the student obtain a medical screening such as an EKG prior to prescribing any medication.

Any student who is prescribed such medications will be expected to find a home provider to continue providing the medication management by the summer of that academic year.

What if I lose my ADHD medication?

Students will be expected to be responsible for the safe storage of the ADHD medication.  Replacements for lost prescriptions will not be given.

Does SCS have a limit on the number of sessions a student can be seen?

There is no specific session limit. Counseling at SCS is based on a short-term model in order to help all students and you and your counselor will determine how long you will be seen.

How much does it cost to see a professional at SCS?

Students are not charged when they receive services at our office.

What is SCS’s policy on confidentiality?

SCS 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., harm to yourself or someone else and ongoing child or elder abuse or court subpoena). In these cases, the pertinent laws, professional ethics and the best clinical practices will dictate our response to the information presented to our counselors.

If a person has been victim of sexual assault or is a survivor of child sexual abuse, is the Student Counseling Services required to report the information to the university reporting mandate?

Counseling Center staff are NOT Title IX responsible persons and are therefore able to keep this information private and confidential.

Will my parents, faculty, and/or others be informed that I am going to SCS?

No.  SCS does not release information about student involvement without written permission from the student.

What if I am under 18? Can I receive services without parental consent?

Yes. Unless you have signed a written release of information, we cannot speak to anyone about treatment received at SCS. Students under 18 may consent to mental health treatment and may be seen at SCS without parental notification.  However, a minor's parents do have the legal right to request and receive mental health treatment records, unless the treating mental health professional determines that the release of said records would be reasonably likely to cause substantial harm to the minor. It is SCS practice to discourage parents from requesting such information so that a trusting working relationship can be established.

Will the fact that I am seen at SCS be on my academic record?

No. SCS records are kept separately from academic records.

Can SCS help me find a therapist off-campus?

Yes. One of the services SCS provides is assisting students in connecting with services in the community, when requested.

What is the difference between a psychiatrist and a psychologist?

Both a psychiatrist and psychologist work in the mental health field. A psychiatrist possesses a medical degree (M.D.) and can prescribe medication, whereas a psychologist earned a doctoral degree (Ph.D. or Psy.D.) in psychology and provides talk therapy. Here at SCS, psychologists, counselors and our psychiatrist work collaboratively to provide mental health treatment for students as part of a treatment team.

What will be expected of me?

SCS staff will expect you to be on time for your appointments and to give 24 hours notice of cancelation if possible.  Providers will want you to be honest and open with your feelings and behaviors so that you can receive the most benefit from your care.