Counseling Center 101


Students seek counseling for many different reasons and may have varying levels of comfort about and understanding of what they can expect from counseling. Our goal is to provide the information you need to make the choices that are right for you.

Time-Limited Counseling

The University of Illinois Counseling Center operates on a time-limited model. We do not have a specific number of sessions that students are allowed—you and your counselor will determine what is most appropriate for you. However, if you need counseling that lasts longer than a semester, it’s likely your counselor will talk to you about working with a counselor in the community. Most college counseling centers operate on a time-limited model and are designed to address immediate needs rather than treat longer-term conditions. 

Same-Day Scheduling

For first-time appointments, we schedule on a same-day basis. Subsequent appointments will be scheduled in advance with your counselor. Same-day scheduling allows us to meet with students when their need is the greatest. It also greatly reduces the number of cancellations and no-shows, which increases our efficiency and allows us to help as many students as possible. To make an appointment, please call the Counseling Center at 217-333-3704 during normal business hours.

Scope of Services

The clinical services we offer include: time-limited individual counseling; group counseling; specialized assessments (alcohol/drug use, eating concerns, academic issues, & suicidal ideation/risk assessments); and skills-based workshops. Our short-term model can be most effective with the following problems including, but not limited to:

  • Academic distress/stress management
  • Mild/moderate anxiety or depression
  • Relationship/roommate concerns
  • Family distress
  • Harm reduction drug/alcohol use
  • Social skills
  • Stress management
  • Lack of motivation
  • Identity development
  • Microaggressions/racism/sexism and other forms of oppression
  • Resiliency
  • Homesickness
  • Sexual concerns
  • Grief/bereavement
  • Perfectionism
  • Time management

Services Outside of Our Scope

Many students find success with our time-limited model although some students may have additional needs that are beyond what we are able to offer. For those students who may need alternative services, we may be able to get you started by offering you some support and helping to connect you to the most appropriate level of care. Below is a list of services that are beyond our scope of services, necessitating a referral to a community mental health provider:

  • Medication management
  • Long-term individual counseling
  • Forensic evaluations/court mandates 
  • Emotional support animal certification 
  • Severe eating disorders/substance use 
  • Chronic suicidality/homicidality
  • Serious and persistent mental illness (major depression, bipolar disorders, schizophrenia and borderline personality disorder)

Confidentiality

The Center complies with state and federal laws regulating confidentiality as well as professional ethical codes. Information about your appointments at the Counseling Center is confidential and cannot be disclosed to others without your written consent, except as outlined below in the Limits of Confidentiality section. Any information about your appointments at the Counseling Center will not be part of your academic record.

There are some exceptions to confidentiality, and the Counseling Center may use or disclose your protected health information without your consent or authorization, including the following circumstances:

  • Child Abuse—If your counselor has reasonable cause to believe a child known to them in a professional capacity may be an abused/neglected child, your counselor must report this belief in accordance with the Abused and Neglected Child Reporting Act.
  • Elder Abuse—If your counselor has reason to believe that an individual (who is protected by state law) has been abused, neglected, or financially exploited, they must report this belief in accordance with the Illinois Elder Abuse and Neglect Act.
  • Serious Threat to Health or Safety—If your counselor believes that you present an imminent, serious risk of physical or mental injury or death to yourself, your counselor may make disclosures necessary to protect you from harm. If you communicate to your counselor a specific threat of imminent harm against another individual or if your counselor believes that there is clear, imminent risk of physical or mental injury being inflicted against another individual, they may make disclosures that are necessary to protect that individual from harm in accordance with the Illinois Mental Health and Developmental Disabilities Confidentiality Act.

Client Rights

You have specific rights regarding your clinical record and disclosures of your protected health information which include:

  • Requesting that the Counseling Center amend your record.
  • Requesting restrictions on what information from your record is disclosed to others.
  • Requesting an accounting of most disclosures of personal health information (PHI) that you have neither consented to nor authorized.
  • Determining the location to which protected information disclosures are sent.
  • Having any complaints you make about the Center’s policies and procedures documented in your record.
  • The right to a written copy of the Psychological Services Agreement.

Client Responsibilities

When students come to the Counseling Center, they are entering into a partnership with their counselor with the goal of working collaboratively to best meet a student’s needs. By entering into this partnership with your counselor you agree to the following:

  • I recognize that to feel better it will take some time and will require me to actively work toward my goals outside of my sessions.
  • I understand that the Counseling Center’s services are time-limited in nature and that if I require additional mental health services, I may be referred for services outside of the Center.
  • I will contact the Counseling Center as soon as possible if I need to cancel or reschedule my appointment.
  • If I am not satisfied with my counseling experience, or want to change counselors, I will talk with my counselor about my concerns and work toward potential solutions.
  • To get the most out of my counseling experience, I will be open and honest with my counselor when talking about my needs and progress.

Counselors

Our counselors are psychologists, social workers, and professional counselors. All of our counselors receive clinical training throughout the year via conferences, workshops, and core competencies, and all of our counselors have been trained to manage most student needs within our scope of services. Our center is also an accredited training facility, where we train doctoral and master’s level interns to become future psychologists and social workers. If you are meeting with one of our trainees today, please strongly consider consenting to be video recorded as part of their training. One of the many benefits of meeting with one of our trainees is that students receive the insight of both their counselor as well as their licensed supervisor.

Email Policy

The Counseling Center complies with the University of Illinois’ Policy on Appropriate Use of Computers and Network Systems, and clients are referred to this policy for information on the privacy of email communications. The Counseling Center will take all reasonable precautions to keep your communications private but we cannot guarantee that your email will remain confidential. There are several ways that an email message can be intercepted and the University of Illinois retains ownership of staff accounts and archives these accounts. If you are concerned in any way about the content of your email being read by someone other than the person you are contacting, you should rely on alternate ways of communicating with us. You should also be aware that counselors may not read or respond to your email in a timely fashion; therefore, we discourage use of email as a way of communicating clinical information, especially emergencies. If you elect to use email as a way of communicating with your counselor, you will be asked to acknowledge with your signature that you have been informed of the limits of confidentiality pertaining to its use.

Complaints

If you have questions or if you believe your privacy rights have been violated, you can file a complaint by contacting the Counseling Center at 217-333-3704 and requesting to speak with our Clinical Director. The Counseling Center has policies that ensure all complaints are handled in a professional and ethical manner.

Research

The Counseling Center compiles data and conducts research to improve its services. In all cases, any information that would identify individual students is removed from the data.

Fees and Payments

All Counseling Center psychological services are included as part of the Health Service Fee. The Center is not responsible for any fees incurred from services provided outside the Center, including private therapy, medical appointments and medications. Many of these services are partially covered by either the health service fee or private health insurance. You are encouraged to consult with your provider about fees before starting treatment.

Supervision and Training

The Counseling Center staff may consult with one another to improve our services. In addition, counselors-in-training regularly discuss their work with their supervisors and each other. The information disclosed remains confidential in all instances. Any exception to this policy requires written consent.

Contacting Your Counselor

Your counselor may not always be immediately available by telephone, so it might be necessary to leave a message with the reception office staff or on your counselor’s voicemail. If you are difficult to reach, please inform your counselor of some times when you will be available and how best to reach you. If an emergency arises when the Counseling Center is closed, please call the 24-hour emergency mental health Crisis Line in Champaign County 217-359-4141.