Frequently Asked Questions
Is counseling about advice giving?
Although you might recall useful advice you've heard from friends or family members, giving advice (i.e., telling you what to do) is not the function of a professional counselor. Your counselor can help you process your thoughts and feelings, understand any challenges or concerns, brainstorm ideas and evaluate options, give an alternate perspective or way of thinking, but ultimately you are responsible for any decisions you make.
Is counseling only for people with serious emotional problems?
Counselors often work with individuals who are struggling with difficult life circumstances and concerns, as well as those with severe mental illness. Everyone has difficulties at some point in their lives, and sometimes engaging in counseling is a good way to attain support to overcome challenges.
Who has access to my information?
Confidentiality is of the utmost concern for counselors, which is reflected very clearly in the American Counseling Association's Code of Ethics. Although there are a few exceptions to confidentiality (see Client Confidentiality), the only individuals who will have direct access to client files, including information discussed in session, is the counselor with whom you are working. Your counseling records are not a part of your academic records.
Is going to counseling a sign of weakness?
Far from being a sign of weakness, attending counseling is a sign of willingness to understand and surmount any challenges present in your life. It takes courage to explore sensitive feelings and difficult experiences. The alternative -- doing nothing about these challenges -- is a far less courageous act
Are you going to put me on medication?
Counselors do sometimes work alongside doctors and/or psychiatrists in treating different psychological problems; however, many times medication isn't necessary or helpful. The ultimate choice as to whether you take medication or not is with you; nobody can make this choice for you.
Can counseling help me?
Many scientific studies have shown that counseling can be effective in working with a variety of problems. However, a commitment is necessary for change to be seen. You can talk with your counselor what is expected of this commitment in terms of time, effort, and goal-setting.