Frequently Asked Questions
What is counseling?
In counseling sessions you can talk about your problems with someone who will listen attentively and who will not judge you. The counselor may ask questions to help you think about the problem in a new way and may give suggestions. The goal of counseling is to help you find options and make choices to solve problems and feel better. The counselor may offer information which you may need to resolve your problems.
Why would you or someone you know go to counseling?
Most people go to counseling when their usual way of handling problems is not working. It may be that talking with friends or family has not been as helpful as it has been in the past, or that the problem is about friends or family. Others go to counseling to speak with someone objective who is not involved in their life. Most people who go to counseling are experiencing some uncomfortable or unpleasant feelings, such as sadness, anxiety, anger, uncertainty, or just a general sense of being overwhelmed. Often people who go to counseling report not feeling like themselves, or others have told them they seem different lately. Sometimes people have been struggling with problems for some time but they only go to counseling once the problems get in the way of their ability to get things done day to day.
What if I just want to take a career test?
The answer can be found at this link: Career Counseling.
Who can use the services at the Counseling Center?
Any student who is taking at least six credits at UK may use the services at the Counseling Center (UKCC). In the summer students not taking classes may use UKCC services if they were taking at least six credits the previous spring and are preregistered for at least six credits the following fall semester. We do not provide personal or career counseling for faculty or staff.
How much does it cost to use the services at UKCC?
There is no charge for the services at UKCC.
How do I make an appointment?
To schedule an appointment either call (859) 257-8701 or come by the office in 201 Frazee Hall and tell the receptionist you wish to see a counselor. If you have not been to the Counseling Center before, or if you have not been here in a long time, you will first be scheduled for an initial assessment, which is different from a counseling session. An initial assessment is a one-time information gathering session in which a counselor will ask you many questions to determine what might be helpful for you and whether we can provide that help. There are two ways to schedule an initial assessment; you may either walk in between the hours of 9 am and 3 pm and wait for the next available counselor, or request an initial assessment appointment at a specific time in the next week or two. When you first arrive for the initial assessment, you will be given forms to complete before you meet with the counselor. If you have any difficulty or need assistance completing the forms please don't hesitate to tell the receptionist. One of our counselors would be happy to help you. Walk-ins coming for an initial assessment are generally seen in the order in which they arrive. You may have to wait for the next available counselor, so please bring homework or other material to read in the waiting room. If there are several students waiting in front of you for an initial assessment and you are not in crisis, you may be asked to make a future appointment or walk-in on a different day.
How long will I have to wait for a first appointment?
Most students are able to be seen on the day they walk in, or within one to two days after that if they’ve been asked to return when we are less busy. You are more apt to be seen the day you walk in if you arrive early in the day. Wait times for scheduled initial assessments vary but usually are less than one week. During particularly busy times of the semester, wait times may be significantly longer, especially for those students who have constraints on the days and times when they can be seen. If you know a problem exists or if you have a concern, don't wait to call. Earlier in the semester is usually the better time to be able to meet with a counselor quickly. Plus, some issues can be addressed early before they get worse or other related problems develop.
What can I expect in the first session?
When you first come to the Counseling Center you will be asked to complete some forms and will then meet with a counselor. The first session is called an initial assessment and is different than a regular counseling session. The initial assessment counselor will ask you questions about the problem but also about other areas of your life in order to figure out what kind of counseling service will be most helpful to you. At the end of the session, which lasts about 50 minutes, the counselor will talk with you about what to do next. Most often one of the services at the Counseling Center will be recommended, and your counselor will help you schedule an appointment to return for the actual counseling sessions. Other times you will be referred to somewhere else on campus or in the community that is a better fit for your needs. The counselor may also tell you about other resources on campus or in the Lexington community that will be of additional help to you. If it is decided that you will be returning to UKCC for services, be aware that the initial assessment counselor may or may not be the same person you see for your counseling sessions.
How long will the appointment take?
Most appointments are about 50 minutes. Before the initial assessment, there is paperwork for you to complete which takes about 15 minutes, so you need to allow about 1 hour 20 minutes for the initial appointment and arrive well before the hour to complete paperwork prior to meeting with the counselor. If you arrive too late, the appointment will be rescheduled. International students for whom English is a second language may require longer to complete the paperwork, so please plan for this when you come for this initial appointment.
Why do I have to do so much paperwork?
The paperwork you complete gives us information about you and helps us to understand what kind of problems you are experiencing. It also protects you and gives you information about your rights as a client. You will be asked to complete one of the forms every few sessions so that we can monitor your progress while you are seeing a counselor.
Do you have crisis counseling?
Yes. We have counselors available to help in emergency situations. If you have an emergency, either walk into our center between the hours of 8 a.m. and 4 p.m. Mon-Fri, or call UKCC at (859) 257-8701 and let the receptionist know that you have an emergency and need to talk to a counselor immediately. A counselor will speak with you and determine how to help with the situation. If you are not sure whether or not it is an emergency, ask to speak with a counselor who can help you determine whether or not you need to come in immediately.
Can I get an alcohol and drug assessment?
If you have questions or concerns about your alcohol or drug use, or you want to make healthy changes in your substance use, we can provide assessment, consultation, and counseling. However, we generally do not provide assessments or counseling for those with mandated court requirements. If you have a court mandate, we can direct you to others in the community who offer this service. For a free on-line alcohol screening, please go to our on-line screenings web page.
What is group counseling? Why would I want to go to a group instead of individual counseling?
Group counseling is often the most effective type of counseling if your problems involve relationships with other people. For this reason, often your initial assessment counselor will recommend group counseling instead of individual counseling. Groups usually involve 5-10 students and are led by two members of the UKCC staff. For more information, go to our groups page.
Can I bring a friend or family member? What if she or he isn't a student?
Friends, partners, spouses, and family members who are not students are not eligible for individual or group counseling at the Counseling Center. They may participate in couples counseling with you, as long as you are a student. If you would like the support of having a friend or family member attend a session or two with you, you may invite them. If there is a need for ongoing family therapy, you and your family member(s) will most likely be referred to a counselor outside of the Counseling Center.
Can I still come to the Counseling Center if I am already seeing another mental health professional somewhere else?
That depends on why you are seeking help at UKCC and why you are seeing the other person. You are welcome to come to UKCC for help with career decision-making or academic problems even if you are seeing a therapist at home or in town to address personal issues. Many students also come to UKCC for counseling who are also taking medication to improve their mood, and this is OK. Many students come to UKCC for counseling who are taking medication prescribed by the clinicians at Student Mental Health on campus. It is not a good idea to see two different counselors at the same time for the same problem.
Is there a limit to how many times I can meet with a counselor?
All students who are registered for at least 6 credit hours are eligible for an initial intake assessment. The intake counselor will then determine with you what forms of treatment will best meet your needs. This may include services at our Center or may require a referral to an outside agency. Any costs associated with services at the outside agency are the responsibility of the student. If your initial assessment counselor determines that ongoing individual counseling at our Center is a good option, you can meet with a counselor for short-term individual counseling each academic year as long as you are a student. During particularly busy times of the semester, there may be delays getting scheduled with your follow-up counselor, including periods when we must put students on a wait list. If this happens, you may choose to work with an off-campus provider in order to be seen most quickly. Due to high demand for our services, there are session limits on individual therapy. There are no session limits for group or career counseling services.
**We have recently changed our attendance policy in order to best utilize our clinical appointment slots and meet student demand for services. If a student does not attend an individual appointment (including an initial intake) and failed to cancel it by 4 pm of the prior business day, it will be counted as a no-show. When a person reaches 3 no-shows, he or she will be no longer eligible for ongoing individual services at the Counseling Center and may be offered other alternatives such as drop-in workshops and community referrals.
What if I am interested in medication? Can you prescribe that?
We cannot prescribe medication but we can refer you to others on campus or in the community who can evaluate you for medication and prescribe it if needed.
Can anyone find out that I have been to the Counseling Center or what I said to the counselor? What is confidentiality?
We do not reveal any information about anyone using our services unless that person gives us written permission to do so or unless required by law. However, sometimes students prefer to share information with a third party such as a parent/guardian, professor, campus support service, employer, or friend. If you would like for the Counseling Center to share information with specific individuals or offices, the release form (Form is a PDF document.) must be completed, signed, and dated. It may be hand-delivered, faxed to (859) 257-3319, or mailed to the Counseling Center at 201 Frazee Hall Lexington, KY 40506-0031. If this form is faxed or mailed, we may require independent verification from the client that this release is authentic and should be acted upon. Please note if the release should come to the attention of a specific counselor.
Confidentiality means that everything you tell anyone at the Counseling Center is private. By law the counselor cannot provide anyone with information about you, including that you are meeting with a counselor, without your written permission. That means that information will NOT go into your academic record and will NOT be given to your parents, friends, professors, or employers. The only exceptions to this confidentiality law involve those few times when it is clear that a person's life is in imminent danger, when a person who cannot take care of themselves is in danger of being harmed by a caregiver (such as a child or elderly person), when there is violence between married persons or those living together, or when the information is required by a court of law (i.e., subpoenaed) within the United States.
Students are encouraged to discuss any concerns they have about confidentiality with their counselor.
Will I always see the same counselor or will it be different each time?
The counselor you see for the initial assessment (the first session) may or may not be the same counselor you meet with for counseling (all sessions after the first). Whether you meet with the same person depends on your preference, your schedule, the type of counseling (individual, couples, group) you will be receiving, and the issues you wish to discuss. At the end of the initial assessment session tell the counselor about any preferences you have for who you will meet with for counseling. Once you begin counseling, you will continue to meet with the same counselor each session unless you decide you would like to see someone else or some unusual circumstance prevents your counselor from continuing with you.
What if I want to meet with a particular counselor?
We will try to accommodate your requests for seeing a specific counselor or a counselor of a particular gender. However, you may have to wait longer for an appointment than you would if you were willing to meet with the first counselor available. Since the counselor you see for the initial assessment session is not often the person you will see for counseling, we recommend that you meet with the first available counselor for the initial assessment so you can begin the process of getting help. After the initial assessment session, we can try to honor your counselor preference in scheduling your next appointment.
What if I want to change counselors?
We understand that sometimes you may not feel comfortable talking with a particular counselor. Counselors are people with unique personalities like anyone else, and sometimes you and the counselor are just not a good match. We would much rather you change counselors than stop coming to counseling altogether if you have not gotten help with your problem. We think it is best if you talk directly with your counselor and let them know you would like to change counselors. We do not get angry or offended when students want to change counselors, though we do often find it is helpful to talk about the reasons you want to change. If it is too difficult to make that request with the counselor you have already met with, just let the receptionist know that you'd like to make a first appointment with a different counselor. You will be asked to speak to an on-call counselor (not the counselor you wish to switch from) who will be happy to work with you to understand and make this change.
How "bad" should I feel before I go for counseling?
If you are considering counseling, it is probably time to speak with a counselor, no matter how "bad" you feel. Unfortunately, students often wait for a problem to get really bad before they seek help, and end up having more negative consequences than they would have if they had spoken with a counselor earlier. At minimum, if your problem is leading to difficulties in your ability to do what you need to do day-to-day (get up, take care of your basic needs, attend class, perform academically, get along with others, eat, sleep) you should probably seek counseling. If you are having any thoughts of hurting yourself or others you should definitely seek counseling.
I really don't feel that bad. Are there any other reasons to go to counseling?
Counseling is not just for those times when you feel bad. Many students find it helpful to talk with a counselor when they are feeling confused or stuck in trying to solve a problem or make a decision. Sometimes even when things aren't at their worst, you still have a strong sense that they could be better. This can be true for a relationship, your grades, or how you feel about yourself. A counselor can help you figure out what changes might make things better, help you decide whether you are ready to make changes and then help you make them if you are ready.
What is the difference between counseling and therapy?
The words are often used interchangeably and there is a lot of overlap between them. Counseling tends to focus on what is going on right now and how you can best cope with day to day life. Psychotherapy or "therapy" tends to focus on understanding and changing long held patterns of thinking, feeling, and behavior that are leading you to have difficulty right now. Therapy often requires exploring the past as well as the present. Often students will engage in both over the course of treatment. Whether your sessions with a counselor are more counseling or more psychotherapy depends on many factors, including the type of problem you are experiencing, what your counselor believes will be most helpful and what you want to get out of the experience.
What can I do if I'm not ready for counseling?
You can come in for an initial assessment and let your counselor know that you are just looking for suggestions and are not ready for counseling. Then other options can be discussed. There are lots of other ways to work on your problems. You can talk to friends and family, ask others for advice, write in a journal, or read books or pamphlets. We have a number of pamphlets in our waiting room on a variety of topics you might find helpful. You can also go to the Self-Help web page. Often students come to counseling when they have tried these things and found the problem still exists.