Sometimes, life gets really tough and overwhelming. Challenges can rock our boats and threaten to drown us. In the midst of the storm, it is usually difficult to see the way forward. We usually need help to navigate and get the necessary answers. When life gets hard, counseling helps us understand the state we are in and provides us with techniques to help us move forward from the dark place that we are in.
Counseling uses similar methods to psychotherapy to promote mental health, however, it is more informal in nature and focused on helping people to go through life’s tough moments and setbacks in the healthiest way possible.
If you are currently going through tough times and you really do not know what to do next (whether it’s because you’re sad all the time, your relationships are suffering, you have difficulty managing everyday stress and you find yourself constantly tired, etc) counseling can be of great help to you. Talking with a counselor can give you a new perspective on what you’re going through and help you move forward
University Counseling Centers
A lot of college students access mental health services via counseling centers located on their campuses. Most colleges offer mental health services and personal counseling on campus. Students visit the counseling center when they have personal or emotional problems that they do not know how to handle.
Who Is Eligible For Services?
University counseling centers usually cater to the needs of students. However, students are not the only ones eligible for counseling. Some counseling centers are open to the entire community and cater to people who are not students, especially vulnerable people who cannot afford therapy.
Who Works At Counseling Centers?
Therapists in training who have acquired theoretical knowledge but need hours of practice before they can become fully licensed professionals usually work at counseling centers. Basically, it is an avenue for them to put their training into practice. These sessions are fully supervised by licensed therapists as well. Sadly, this is not the exact picture of things in reality as most universities cannot afford to hire enough licensed therapists. This means that the counseling centers cannot provide services to patients with severe mental disorders, and where they are able to, the price and wait list is usually very discouraging.
What Services Are Available Through Counseling Centers?
Counseling centers provide a wide range of services, including the following:
Group therapy is one of the most effective forms of mental health treatment for college students. It involves a small number of people (usually between 5-10 people) who meet regularly under the guidance of the counselor. The group usually meets for an hour or two every week and during this time, members discuss issues that are concerning them and offer support and feedback to each other.
Group therapy helps people see that they are not alone and provides relief when they find out that their peers are going through similar issues. It gives students the chance to see how other people tackle problems and discover new strategies to deal with their own problems. It also provides a safe space for the expression of thoughts and feelings.
Counseling centers organize group therapy sessions based on the common issues that students face. It is an especially useful service because it helps counselors provide services to several students at the same time, where there is a shortage of staff.
Short-Term Individual Therapy
Short-term therapy is focused on helping individuals resolve or manage a specific challenge. There is collaboration between the therapist and the student as the therapist helps the student develop self-awareness, understand the situation and develop useful skills to navigate the challenge. The length of short-term therapy varies from student to student depending on the student’s needs. Some of the common issues addressed in short-term individual therapy are:
- Relationship issues
- Personal issues such as anxiety, loneliness, grief etc
- Academic concerns
- Identity issues
- Performance anxiety
If the student is dealing with a mental illness, he/she may be referred to a therapist for in-depth intervention. Also, because of the huge demand placed on counseling centers, they are only able to offer each student a few sessions at most.
Counseling centers usually have a crisis team that’s available 24/7 for emergencies. A trained therapist is usually available to respond immediately to students going through mental health crises, severe emotional breakdown or experiencing suicidal thoughts. The crisis center helps to take control of the situation and do what is necessary to calm the student.
Counseling centers play an active role in educating students about mental health issues and helping them to cultivate healthy habits. By doing this, students learn to live in the best and healthiest way possible and develop useful coping mechanisms.
What Else Do Counseling Centers Do?
Training For Future Therapists
Counseling centers provide an avenue for therapists in training to put what they have learned in theory into practice and get the required hours that they need to become licensed. These therapists in training are bound by ethics and are supervised by senior licensed therapists.
Counseling centers provide a great avenue for research. In some universities, counseling centers have research units that are responsible for generating and implementing new ideas and conducting research that supports the interests of the counseling center and helps it to be more effective. In addition to this, external researchers can conduct studies using subjects from the counseling center. The results of this research further aid the development of psychological care and mental health services in general.
The central mission of counseling centers is to promote students’ well-being. Students’ mental and physical well-being impacts their general performance inside and outside the classroom. Counseling centers help students develop habits of wellness that are essential to their long-term health by properly educating them.
Keeping the body healthy goes a long way in keeping the mind healthy. The quality of food that we eat impacts our overall physical and mental health. Counseling centers educate students on the importance of eating healthy and exercising regularly. This helps to encourage students to live a healthier lifestyle and further emphasizes the importance of a prevention-based approach to mental health.
Could A Counseling Center Be Helpful For Me?
Life can get really challenging. Sometimes it can be hard to deal with emotions and situations and it becomes necessary to share how we’re feeling with someone else and unburden ourselves. Counseling is a really helpful way of doing this. If you’re wondering whether counseling could be helpful to you, here are some questions to ponder on:
- Do you feel really sad, frustrated or lonely?
- Is a particular problem overwhelming you?
- Do you feel like you have nobody to talk to about how you feel?
- Have you noticed a change in how you feel and think about life?
- Are your feelings having a negative impact on your life and making it hard to focus on school or work?
If you answered ‘yes’ to any of these questions, it may be a good idea for you to talk with a counselor.
Challenges With Receiving Counseling Center Care
Counseling centers provide great services, however, they come with a couple of challenges that could prevent individuals from accessing these services.
- Lack of funding- Colleges lack the funds that they need to make adequate mental health care available to students, and this can make counseling expensive for students.
- Understaffing- According to a report from the Center for Collegiate Mental health, between 2009 and 2015, the number of students seeking counseling services increased by 29.6% while the number of attended appointments increased by 38.4%. This means that a lot of students are seeking counseling services however there aren’t enough staff to attend to their needs. This leads to overbooking and long waiting lists at counseling centers. It also means that those who need immediate attention are unlikely to get it.
Find A Therapist Now
Physical counseling centers are great, however, they are sadly unable to meet the urgent counseling needs of every individual. Online therapy is bridging this gap. You can access counseling services easily through online counseling. The process is quick, simple and affordable. Thrivetalk is an online therapy company that provides you with fast, easy, affordable and seamless access to a counselor, wherever you are in the world. Our platform provides you with access to licensed therapists who are specialists in their respective fields. You can now get comfortably get access to counseling online.
Counseling is a great way for students to gain clarity and control of their emotions and feelings. It may not provide all the answers or give the exact solutions that they need, but it is always a step in the right direction.