Many students will feel challenged during their post-secondary education and look for a place to get help. This is where student-counseling services come in.
Walk-in and crisis services
While most services are by appointment only, sometimes there is a need for instant emergency counseling. Student counseling services will accommodate students in those cases. If they deem the situation urgent enough, a counselor or psychologist will see the student immediately. Less-urgent matters may result in a wait time. Generally this is available on weekdays only. However, emergency phone numbers will be made available for off-hours services such as weekends, holidays, or at-night crises.
Many students experience stress during their post-secondary education. This can happen due to academic issues or concerns of a personal nature. They can also experience a great deal of depression from juggling the pressures of school, work, friends, family, and intimate relationships. If left unchecked this can lead to suicidal thoughts, at which point it is extremely important that the student seek personal counseling.
Other issues include anger-management, bereavement, sleeplessness, and phobias. These are all common to students and as such, counselors have a great deal of experience dealing with these on a daily basis. More dangerous issues include abuse and sexual assault, and are generally treated as higher priority if they present as a walk-in case.
Potential health issues include eating disorders, binge drinking, and drug use. People coming in for help with these types of problems often will seek help with both personal counselors and also the student health clinic. In fact the same staff may overlap when counseling issues meet physical and health issues.
Personal counselors are available in a supportive role for these types of concerns. Their goal is to facilitate the student in developing personal coping strategies, and if necessary, refer them to other specialists or disciplines (eg. chaplains, health practitioners, etc.). Couples and group counseling is also available for students with their partners or families.
During their years at university, many students experience some form of academic difficulty that may serve as a barrier to the attainment of their goals. Things like procrastination, time management, test anxiety, writer's block, class presentations, communicating with peers and professors, fear of failure, coping with probation, perfectionism, and problems of motivation and loss of concentration are often seen by these counselors.
The staff at counseling services can range from only one or two counselors (who may also double as the school health officer or chaplain), to a wide staff of psychologists, professional counselors, and graduate-level interns. These interns have completed their practicum training, have been carefully selected, and are closely supervised by other staff. If a student is uncomfortable using an intern for their concerns, another staff member will be offered.
Counseling services are confidential. Information about the student, the type of counseling services they access, and the content of the sessions cannot be released without that studentís written permission. However there are a few exceptions to this general rule: counseling that reveals a child may be in need of protection (eg. child abuse), that the student may be a risk to themselves and/or others (eg. suicide), public safety concerns, and issues that contravene public law are all subject to the release of confidential information.
Eligibility and costs
With the exception of some fees for the administration of certain aptitude or personality tests, most counseling services are offered free of charge to students who are registered with that school and are paying student fees. Students who are not paying student fees may also use these services but will generally pay a fee.