What is individual personal counseling?
Personal counseling is an opportunity for you to receive assistance with issues and concerns of any kind. Personal concerns addressed at the Counseling Center include adjusting to college, family conflicts, feelings of depression and anxiety, interpersonal issues, self-esteem issues, concerns about eating or self-harm, domestic or relationship abuse or sexual assault, substance abuse, gender identity, suicidal feelings, grief, and any issues that may be affecting your academic growth and/or personal development and well-being. Issues are discussed with a professional counselor who is trained to assist people with these concerns.
What should I expect in counseling?
Most people come to counseling when their usual ways of handling things in their life aren’t working well. We recognize it can be difficult to talk about personal things yet our staff is trained in trying to make the counseling sessions as comfortable and rewarding as possible. The counselor will ask you questions about yourself, your concerns, your background and your feelings. This is in the interest of understanding you in order to help you find other ways of coping and regaining your footing. Counseling generally involves having a confidential dialogue with your counselor and most students find the counseling setting to be very safe, supportive, and comfortable once they meet their counselor. It is okay to talk to your counselor about anything.
I am nervous about seeing a counselor. Is this normal?
Most people feel hesitant about unfamiliar situations, especially discussing personal feelings and ideas. It is perfectly okay to decline to answer questions or let the counselor know you are feeling nervous. Sometimes talking about this nervousness even eases the tension. Usually people find speaking with a counselor to be a very safe, easy and comfortable process. Also, some people are nervous because they had a negative experience with counseling in the past. It is important to recognize and acknowledge this experience. However, we would like you to realize that each counselor has a unique style and approach that can offer a new experience for you when you try counseling again. It is important that you feel comfortable with your counselor and for any reason, if you don’t, it is okay to try a different counselor in our center. You could talk to your counselor directly about this or to the Administrative Assistant.
How will the counselor understand me if I come from a different culture or sexual orientation then her or him?
Although we are not always able to match a student’s background to that of the counseling staff, we have had cross-cultural training and are extremely sensitive to and knowledgeable about issues of diversity and difference. Please raise these concerns with your counselor if you feel this is a barrier to your experience in counseling.
If I see a counselor, does that mean I’m weak or crazy?
It is often a sign of maturity and resourcefulness to seek help and guidance when it is needed. It is also usually better to consult with someone while the concern is a small problem and not wait for the problem to get worse. Counseling can offer ways to help you learn to take responsibility for what is bothering you and augment and develop coping skills to help you navigate your challenges. In counseling, you can discover more about yourself, your strengths and feel more confident and competent.
Isn’t it better for me to solve my problems on my own?
We absolutely encourage all students to draw upon their own inner strength and external resources to manage their stress or problems and there are many supportive resources within Student Affairs to further support students (Residence Life, the Dean of Students, the Academic Resource Center, etc…). At times you may feel that your concerns need the support of a professional trained in mental health. While in counseling, you will still be solving your own problems; but with the feedback, encouragement and guidance of your counselor. One of the goals of counseling is to help you develop the skills to solve issue in the future on your own.
Who is eligible for Counseling?
All enrolled, degree seeking candidates at Whitman.
Is counseling available when I am studying abroad, on my breaks or via email, text, or skype?
No, the Counseling Center does not offer any counseling services while students are not on campus, while school is not in session or via technology. Email is used occasionally as a way to schedule or reschedule appointments only as it is not a safe and secure way to communicate any sensitive information. If you need or want counseling services while you’re away from school or studying abroad, you are best served by finding a counselor in the area where you are residing. Often the site supervisor for a study abroad program has this information for the local area.
How do I contact the Counseling Center to get started?
You can simply drop by the Counseling Center between the hours of 8:00am and 5:00pm, Monday through Friday, where you will be greeted by our Administrative Assistant and our resident dog, Louie. We can also be reached at: 509-527-5195. All students who wish to be seen by a counselor will need to have an Intake. See Getting an Appointment. Intakes are done on a “drop in – first come/first served” basis and the times are:
- Monday, 1:00pm to 3:00pm
- Tuesday, 1:00pm to 3:00pm
- Wednesday, 9:00am to 11:00am
- Thursday, 9:00am to 11:00am
If a student is unable to come in during those Intake times, the Administrative Assistant will help find an alternative time to come in for an intake.
How long will I have to wait for an appointment?
The Counseling Center is committed to assuring that the students are seen as quickly as possible. Intake times are designated at various times Monday through Thursday. If, during the intake, it is decided that you would benefit from further services, every effort is made to get you in as soon as possible. During peak stress times of the year, it may take a little longer to schedule a regular appointment with your counselor or appointments may be limited to 30 minutes. Students encountering a significant crisis or emergency will be seen as soon as possible no matter what time of day it is. Please let the Administrative Assistant know if you are currently experiencing a crisis during regular business hours and we are also on-call during off business hours for emergency situations.
What happens during an Intake?
At your Intake appointment, you will first fill out an electronic questionnaire about your history and then a counselor will meet with you for approximately 20 minutes. You will be asked some questions related to your current concerns. During this session, you and the counselor will decide what the next best course of action will be. Sometimes this means follow up with counseling at our center, a referral to another Student Affairs Department or a community provider, or no follow up.
Does the student always continue with counselor who did the Intake if they come back in for counseling?
Not always. Your Intake counselor may not have a time available in their schedule for on-going counseling that also meets your schedule.
How many times do I need to see a counselor?
This depends on your individual needs and the counseling plan you have developed with your counselor.
What if I have to cancel an appointment?
To benefit from counseling, it is important to be consistent with keeping your appointments. If you need to cancel and reschedule an appointment, please give the courtesy of 24-hour notice, if possible. You may leave a message with your counselor directly, through email or on their voice mail, or, call the main number, 509-527-5195, during regular business hours. If you do not show up for two sessions without calling in advance you may lose your preferred time and be placed on a waiting list if you would like to reschedule. If you are thinking of terminating your counseling, it is always best to discuss that directly with your counselor.
Will what I discuss in counseling be kept confidential?
See Confidentiality and Email.
What if my parents/guardian wants to speak with my counselor?
Your counselor will never speak to your parents, or anyone, without your permission or even confirm that you have come in to the Counseling Center at all. You may give us permission to speak with your parent and the parameters of what you would allow us to speak with them about. Occasionally parents call our office just wanting to share information about their student, with or without confirmation from their student that they had actually visiting or are currently visiting the Counseling Center. We will not seek a student out to come in for services just because a parent has asked us to do this nor do we mandate counseling for anyone.
What if I get referred to the community?
If a student requires a more specialized service than we can provide, we will make a referral to a clinician in the community. You will need to use your own private health insurance or pay out of pocket to cover these services. If you do use your health insurance that is connected to your family’s insurance, be aware that your parents could likely learn of your visits with your provider because the insurance company will send your parents records of your billing.
Is there a charge for counseling?
There are no costs associated with receiving any of the services offered at the Counseling Center. We also offer free self-help handouts, booklets, and other types of mental health literature on a wide variety of topics. Furthermore, you may also check out the supportive information and links on this website at: Self-Help and Links.
Can I come in to discuss someone else I am concerned about?
Yes, counselors are available to consult with students about concerns you may have about another. Please inform the Administrative Assistant of your desire for a consultation about another and she will help arrange the details of that visit.
What if I feel that I am not a good match for or am uncomfortable with my counselor?
All of our counselors want you to have a positive counseling experience so it is important that you let us know if you don’t feel your counselor is a good fit for you. You can tell your counselor directly or if you are unable to do that, you can contact the Director or the Assistant Director. It is okay to express these concerns and we would rather have you do this than to have you not return.
What about medication evaluation or management at the Counseling Center?
Students needing these services will be referred to our Health Center physicians or medication providers in the community. There are some limits to these services. See Limits of our Services.
What do I do if I think I have ADHD?
The Counseling Center does not do any evaluations for a diagnosis or for prescriptions for ADHD. If you suspect this is an issue for you, contact the Academic Resource Center in Memorial Building 325 or at 509-527-5213.
This is such a small campus. Will everyone know I am coming in and judge me for that?
Although the content of the counseling sessions are confidential, we cannot control who you may see in the waiting room or who sees you entering our offices. Students at Whitman generally have a positive feeling about seeking counseling.
What if I need assistance after hours for an emergency?
The Counseling Center provides 24/7 on-call coverage when school is in session. If you are experiencing a mental health crisis or know a fellow student who is experiencing a mental health crisis outside of the regular business hours of 8:00am to 5:00pm, please contact the Health Center (open 24/7) at 509-527-5295, Security at 509-527-5777, or 911.
Where do I go for concerns about my experience at Whitman that don’t seem to be mental health related?
- Academic performance problems - Antonia Keithahn, Academic Resource Program Coordinator, Memorial Building 325 or 509-527-5213.
- Residence Life Issues – Nancy Tavelli, Associate Dean of Students: Campus Life, Residence Life and Housing, Memorial Building 130 or 509-527-5297.
- Health Issues – Claudia Ness, RN, Director of the Health Center, Welty Health Center or 509-527-5295.
- Institutional Concerns – Kazi Joshua, Interim Vice President for Student Affairs/Dean of Students, Memorial 325 or 509-527-5158.