Many students find their use of alcohol and/or drugs interfering with their educational goals, intimate relationships, health, friendships, and/or family life. Such problems often remain unnoticed until they seem unmanageable. Staff psychologists are available to help students address lifestyle choices that may contribute to alcohol and drug use and the problems that may result from that use. A range of strategies, including decision making for risk reduction, are offered. We do not normally offer services for those who are court mandated. If you have questions or concerns about your own use or that of a friend, call (859) 257-8701 for a consultation or to make an appointment.
All discussions are confidential.
The following links are also helpful resources on campus related to substance abuse prevention:
Free On-line, Anonymous Alcohol Screenings
Once you arrive at the log in screen, log in using the following keyword: UNIVOFKENTCOUNSELING. Click the "Begin the Screening" button, then choose the specific screening you'd like to take.
We have library materials and brochures related to substance abuse prevention and intervention. Our staff is also willing to present programs on these issues.
Often students report substance use that we belive will be better addressed through more intensive treatment than we can offer. As such, we regularly refer students to more intensive community treatment programs that are off campus. Students must pay for these off campus services as they are not part of University of Kentucky Counseling Center: Consultation and Psychological Services. Many facilities offering intensive treatment programs have a sliding fee scale or accept insurance. To find out about other resources available in the area, feel free to contact us.
In our society, almost everyone worries at some time about weight, appearance, body image, and size. However, people with eating disorders develop an exaggerated form of such worries. These individual's lives can revolve around their fear of fat and food, feeling out of control, and trying to keep their eating disorder a secret from friends and family.
College students are particularly at risk for developing eating disorders. Some studies suggest that one in four college-aged women have an eating disorder and the number of both male and female students with eating disordered behavior continues to rise.
The reasons people develop eating disorders are numerous and complex. Frequently, there are individual factors such as low self-esteem, feelings of lack of control, and having perfectionistic tendencies. They are extremely critical of themselves and how they look. Food becomes a way of coping with these issues and the related feelings. For example, in response to feeling "not good enough" in general or in reaction to specific circumstances, people may binge, purge, or stop eating. These behaviors can serve to numb intense feelings, avoid difficult personal problems, or punish or reward oneself.
Family dynamics that tend to coincide with a member having an eating disorder include creating an image that is "perfect," having high expectations for the eating disordered individual, tending to avoid expressing feelings in direct or safe ways, or situations in which the individual feels a lack of control within the family. Denying oneself food can be a way to feel "in control" with the ability to accomplish set goals. Bingeing and purging serve as a release of anxiety, depression, and/or anger. In addition, women and men who come from families where dieting is the norm are at an increased risk for developing an eating disorder.
Overall, the transition from being a child to becoming an adult can feel overwhelming. Individuals with eating disorders often struggle with maturation of their bodies and the expectations of them as adults including relationship and sexuality concerns. An eating disorder may be a way to cling to a "child-like" body and expectations for oneself. Eating disorders may also develop or worsen as one tries to adjust to a new environment with new demands.
Biological and genetic factors may also play a role in the development of an eating disorder. It seems that the biochemical imbalances associated with depression may also affect one's eating behaviors. Research indicates that there may be imbalances in certain brain chemicals, called neurotransmitters, in the parts of the brain that control appetite, mood, and sleeping patterns. These imbalances may shed light on why people with anorexia can refuse food despite their hunger or why those with bulimia lose control of their eating. Many people with eating disorders have found anti-depressant medications a helpful part of treatment.
Social and cultural factors also have a major impact on the development of an eating disorder. Our society continues to promote unrealistic images of what women and men should look like. The standards for beauty in this country are extremely difficult if not impossible to attain. Yet, there is a multi-billion dollar weight-loss industry that works steadily to convince us that we can and should attempt to meet these unrealistic body images.
Signs and Symptoms
- significant weight loss
- intense fear of weight gain or fat
- feelings of self-worth determined by what is or is not eaten
- absence of menstruation
- restrictive diets, avoiding certain foods, using low-calorie drinks to avoid hunger
- feeling fat, regardless of weight
- preoccupation with food, calories, fat grams, nutrition, and/or cooking
- compulsive exercise, rigid exercise regimes
- dressing in layers to hide weight-loss
- perfectionistic attitude
- withdrawal from people
- bingeing or eating uncontrollably
- vomiting, laxative or diuretic abuse, fasting, exercising to get rid of calories
- feeling out of control
- feeling guilt about eating
- eating in secret, hiding food
- lying about how much food has been eaten
- bathroom visits after meals
- depression or mood swings
- harsh self-judgment
- swollen glands, puffiness in the cheeks, heartburn, unexplained tooth decay
- usually average weight with regular fluctuation in weight
Binge Eating Disorder
- rapid weight gain
- weight is above average or overweight, possibly obese
- eating large quantities of food even when not hungry
- disgust and shame after overeating
- eating food to the point that one is uncomfortable and even in pain
- feeling out of control over food
- hiding food that will be used later for binges
- does not use ANY measures to purge the binged food
- exhibits an abnormally low self-esteem
- attributes any successes or failures to weight
- avoids sexual activity and/or any emotional intimacy
- uses food to help cope with stress, emotional distress, and overcome daily problems
The majority of people can recover from an eating disorder, especially if they seek help from a counselor or therapist who has training to work with eating disorders. Receiving help in each area that an eating disorder impacts has been shown to be effective. For example, consulting with a nutritionist about the food aspect, seeing a medical doctor about the physical effects and the potential for medication to help, and obtaining therapy for the psychological impact.
If you believe that you may be suffering from an eating disorder, the best thing you can do right now is seek professional help. The sooner you get started, the sooner you will be able to recover. At the University of Kentucky Counseling Center: Consultation and Psychological Services, there are trained psychologists who can help by working with you in both individual and group settings.
For a Friend:
Since secrecy and isolation help to perpetuate eating disorders, it is essential that you show that you are concerned and care about someone that you suspect may have a problem. Tell the person privately about specific concerns that you have about their behavior. Allow the person to talk and be prepared for some resistance to opening up to you right away. Encourage the person to talk with a counselor who will understand the issues and assist in recovery. If necessary, offer to come with the person to the Counseling Center to talk to someone. Your support and friendship can help the person take that important first step.
Once you arrive at the log in screen, log in using the following keyword: UNIVOFKENTCOUNSELING. Click the "Begin the Screening" button, then choose the specific screening you'd like to take.
201 Frazee Hall
Services: Psychologists are available to provide assessment and individual therapy.
Student Behavioral Health
National Eating Disorder Association
Eating Disorder Awareness Week TBA
Do I Need Counseling?
Simply identifying that your gender or sexual orientation does not fall within the norm in our society does not mean you are mentally ill or need counseling. The need for assistance in dealing with these issues often arises because of external reactions to this "alternative" sexual orientation or gender expression rather than from inherent individual struggles. Negative, unsupportive messages or fear of reactions from family, employers, professors, friends, other students, church, and society in general can lead to feelings of guilt, fear, isolation, and lack of confidence for GLBTQ individuals who would otherwise be mentally healthy. Often, these environmental issues are what propel an individual to seek counseling.
An internal struggle that may motivate you to seek help is determining how to understand your sexual or gender identity. The college years are a time when many students begin to sort out their values and figure out who they are. It is not uncommon for students to question their sexual orientation or gender identity and explore how to integrate these with the rest of their life.
Finally, just because you do identify yourself as GLBTQ and do not struggle with that experience, does not mean that you are immune to any number of emotional, relational, developmental, or other psychological issues that affect many people. These may include depression, substance abuse, anxiety, relationship concerns, family problems, etc.
Thus, the Counseling Center can be of assistance to you if you are experiencing any of the following situations:
- you are experiencing tension and/or harassment from another due to your sexual orientation or gender identity.
- you feel at odds with social gender messages.
- you are exploring "coming out" to peers, professors, family or friends and would like help determining how to address these issues.
- you identify as bisexual and feel like nobody gets it.
- you are an GLBTQ person of color and are experiencing multiple forms of oppression.
- you are experiencing confusion about your sexual orientation or gender identity.
- you are trying to accept/understand another's sexual orientation or gender and want to talk to someone who is open and nonjudgmental.
- you have an GLBTQ parent(s) and are concerned about establishing relationships with people who will accept your family's diversity.
- you are comfortable with your sexual orientation and gender and want to address other issues with a therapist who is equally comfortable.
A therapist can also help if you are experiencing any of the following feelings:
- isolation and difficulty connecting with others
- depression, anxiety, loneliness
- dissatisfaction with your relationship
- concern about your alcohol/substance use
- uncertainty about your academic progress or career choice
How Do I Know it is Safe?
- The services provided by the University of Kentucky Counseling Center: Consultation and Psychological Services (UKCC) are confidential. What you choose to share with your counselor is protected by law.
- The Counseling Center has made a commitment to providing sensitive, quality service to the multicultural student community.
- There are counselors on staff that are open and non-judgmental about sexual orientation or gender identity.
- Counselors do not have hidden agendas and will not attempt to steer you in any given direction other than supporting your own emotional health goals.
- Counselors work from a multicultural perspective.
- The Counseling Center actively supports the University's non-discrimination policy which includes sexual orientation.
- The Counseling Center is involved in many initiatives on campus that are seeking to transform the UK climate, making it a safer place for openly GLBTQ students.
Provides an affirming, safe, and confidential space for GLBTQQA students to learn more about gender identity, human sexuality, and related issues by providing access to academic, cultural, and interpersonal resources; and aims to change the campus climate and culture to become more inclusive of GLBTQQA students by embracing diversity.
UK Gay-Straight Alliance
A GLBTQA group that aims for acceptance and providing a social safe-space to discuss relevant and non-relevant topics.
This website offers outreach, support, message boards, and brochures specifically geared for GLBTQ youth. It offers tools to aid in coming to terms with one's sexuality.
Parent, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays
This website offers tips and resources on how parents, families and friends of gay and lesbian people can cope with an adverse society, educate the public and promote equality.
Lambda 10 Project
This website seeks to heighten the visibility of gay issues through highlighting fraternity/sorority experiences, relevant news clips, and speakers for campus events.
This website provides a comprehensive listing of other GLBTQ resources, organizations, and sources of information.
This website provides a highly useful index of organizations and legal resources for the gay and lesbian community. This index is a great reference tool complete with legal, political and media resources for gay, lesbian and transgender topics.
The University of Kentucky Counseling Center: Consultation and Psychological Services offers some special programs for graduate students in addition to our regular services. We offer a biweekly Graduate Student Support Group. This group is designed for graduate students in any discipline at any stage of their program. We also extend ourselves to graduate students who are feeling stuck or unproductive in the thesis or dissertation writing process. Support for this process can come through individual counseling or in the Graduate Student Support Group. The demands of being in graduate school can be particularly hard on significant relationships. Couples counseling and general therapy groups can help graduate students in dealing with relationship issues.
Many times graduate students discover that the discipline that they are pursuing is not what they expected or in other ways does not feel right. Career counseling is another service that can be utilized to find a more satisfactory academic/career direction.
Adjusting to a new country, culture, and academic system can be both exciting and difficult. Transitions can be especially challenging when you are far away from people who usually support you. Counselors at the University of Kentucky Counseling Center: Consultation and Psychological Services (UKCC) understand this, and are aware of the many ways that being from another culture can impact your experience here at UK. We often met with international students and have been able to help with both academic and personal problems.
Talking to a counselor is not as common a practice in many countries as it is in the United States. Many foreign students often say, "I'm not 'crazy', so I don't need to speak with a psychologist." But counselors at UKCC are here at the university to help students reach their educational goals. We understand that problems in your personal life can impact your ability to learn, so we talk with students about a variety of issues. You do not have to have a mental illness to find talking with a counselor helpful.
Some international students have a specific problem they want help with when they come to UKCC. Others are just aware that things are not going as well as they expected.
What problems do international students often talk about with a counselor?
Living in a new culture presents many challenges. Often the differences are interesting and fun at first, but over time having to adjust to so many new things can be exhausting. Some of the issues foreign students face and talk about in counseling include:
- Missing home
- Not wanting to go home
- Difficulties reading, writing, or listening to lectures in a foreign language
- Adjusting to major differences in the educational system
- Wanting to choose a major that your family would approve of, or that would make getting a job in your country difficult
- Problems getting help for physical illness due to difference in the medical system
- Not being understood because of your accent
- Not being understood when you express yourself in your usual way
- Roommate conflicts
- Difficulties making friends with Americans
- Conflicts between values at home and in the US regarding dating
- Problems interacting with professors, advisors, or employers
- Concerns about family reactions to choices you make while in the US
- Dealing with others' misperceptions about your culture or country
- Finding that some people are prejudiced against others from different cultures
- Finding that things that were a problem at home are still a problem even though you are in a new environment
Dealing with these issues can lead to:
- Feeling sad
- Feeling worried
- Feeling lonely
- Feeling confused
- Feeling frustrated or angry
- Feeling overwhelmed
- Feeling helpless or stuck
- Feeling a lack of confidence
- Feeling fearful of the unknown and unfamiliar
- Problems with sleeping
- Problems concentrating
- Academic performance problems
- Academic performance problems
- Physical illnesses
The Counseling Center is available to help students with any of these issues.
What is counseling like? What can I expect?
Many student feel uncomfortable discussing a personal problem with a stranger. The staff at the Counseling Center are trained professionals who are knowledgeable about the issues facing international students.
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. This 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 intake interview, 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. The counselor may also tell you about other resources on campus or in the Lexington community that will be of help to you.
The Second Session:
The person you meet with for the intake interview may or may not be the same person you see for counseling. However, once you begin the counseling process (the second session) you will always see the same person. 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 a new way and may give suggestions. The goal of counseling sessions is to help you find options and make choices to solve problems and feel better. The counselor may also offer information which you may need to resolve your problems.
Sometimes one counseling session is all that you will need. More often you will meet once a week or every other week until your problem is resolved. Depending on the problem, you may meet with the counselor alone, with your spouse or partner, or with a small group of other students who have similar problems. Individual and couples counseling sessions are 50 minutes. The small group counseling sessions are 1Ā½ hours.
Can anyone find out that I have been to the Counseling Center or what I said to the counselor? What is confidentiality?
Everything you tell the counselor is strictly private and confidential. This means that 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, your home government, or the US government. The only exceptions to this confidentiality law involve those few times when it is clear that a person's life is in danger, when a child or elderly person is in danger of being harmed by a caregiver, when there is violence (such as shoving, choking, grabbing, hitting, punching, kicking, throwing things at the person, or threats of any of these) between spouses or dating partners who live together, or when the information is required by a court of law (i.e., subpoenaed) within the United States.
OK, I want to talk with a counselor. What do I do now?
To schedule an appointment call (859) 257-8701 or come by the office in 201 Frazee Hall and tell the receptionist you wish to schedule an appointment. If you are in crisis or are so upset that you feel you cannot wait to speak with someone, please tell the receptionist that you need to speak with someone immediately. Have other questions? Please visit our Frequently Asked Questions web page.
What other services does the Counseling Center offer?
More information about available services can be found in the Services section of this website.
Students of Color
Students of color experience many of the same difficulties as do other students.
These problems often include:
- Academic problems
- Difficulty adjusting to the university environment
- Dealing with traumatic events
- Family relationships
- Romantic relationships
- Disordered eating
- Substance abuse
- Career decision making
However, there are some issues that might be especially pertinent to students of color.
- Adjusting to the racial/ethnic culture of campus
- Dealing with racism
- Difficulty communicating with people of different cultures (e.g., roommates, professors)
- Being the target of a hate crime
- Fears/anxiety related to race
The University of Kentucky Counseling Center: Consultation and Psychological Services (UKCC) is a supportive, affirming place for all students. Our staff invites you to come and talk with us about any of the above topics as well as any other problems you may be facing.
All our services are private and confidential. We cannot tell anyone that you have come to counseling or what you talked about without your written permission. There are a few instances in which we have to share information by law.
You are welcome to request a specific counselor to work with. However, all of our counselors are available and open to working with students of color. We try to accommodate specific requests, but may not be able to at busy times of the year.
The Counseling Center offers the Women of Color Support Group. If you are interested in attending, please check the schedule for meeting times and location.
Links to other University Services
Students with Disabilities
The Disability Resource Center is the best first point of contact for students with a disability or a disability-related concern. The University of Kentucky Counseling Center: Consultation and Psychological Services offers individual and group counseling for students regardless of disability for personal growth, psychological concerns (related to the disability or not), career indecision, identity issues, substance abuse, and other concerns as long as Center services are able to meet the needs of the individual.
University of Kentucky Counseling Center: Consultation and Psychological Services offers workshops for students whose test performance is consistently lower than expected despite adequate test preparation. Please click on the Test Anxiety Workship Flyer link below to get more information about these workshops.
* The content of the workshops is the same for all sessions
Test Anxiety Workshop Flyer - download here (PDF)
The University of Kentucky Counseling Center: Consultation and Psychological Services (UKCC) is committed to helping students make healthy lifestyle choices. One potential change for some students is the area of smoking and other tobacco use. The Counseling Center offers tobacco cessation services through individual counseling. Individual counseling for cessation may vary by clinician and is based on the needs of the student. Individual counseling can include but is not limited to utilizing behavioral techniques, enhancing motivation, reducing anxiety, and managing cravings. Some UKCC clinicians may use hypnosis, and adjunctive resources such as telephone coaches and online programs. UKCC clinicians can also talk to you about using nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) and prescribed medications, often prescribed through the University Health Service*, in combination with individual counseling to increase your chances of success. Counseling for smoking/tobacco cessation is like any other form of counseling at UKCC in that it is free for students who are enrolled for at least 6 credit hours. Spouses, partners and sponsored dependents of students are not eligible for ongoing services at UKCC, but they can call and talk to a clinician about treatment resources elsewhere, including options for free counseling and nicotine replacement therapy.
Free Nicotine Replacement Therapy (NRT)
Because the University of Kentucky is committed to providing a healthy place to live, work, and learn, the University committed to going completely tobacco-free as of November 19th, 2009. To help students who decide to quit using tobacco, the University is paying for nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) in the form of patches, gum, and lozenges. The Counseling Center is one of two places on campus where students can obtain coupons to receive NRT at no cost. The coupons are redeemable at the KY Clinic Pharmacy or the University Health Pharmacy. To be eligible for the coupons, students have to be enrolled in an approved program. For the Counseling Center, "enrolled in a program" means having an ongoing, collaborative relationship with a UKCC clinician and actively working to quit their tobacco usage. The University Health Service also offers tobacco cessation treatment options, including a structured group program. Click here for their link.
- To make an appointment for tobacco cessation services at the UK Counseling Center, call (859) 257-8701.
- A complete list of Tobacco Cessation Resources as well as information about the UK Tobacco-Free policy can be found at the University of Kentucky Tobacco-Free Website. The website address is http://www.uky.edu/TobaccoFree/.
* Please note that no clinicians at UKCC actually prescribe medication. The staff work closely with medical professionals at University Health Service when students may benefit from a medication evaluation.