Frequently Asked Questions

Questions?

Below are the answers to the most frequently asked questions about the Counseling Center at Western Washington University. To read an answer, click the question to expand the answer. If you still have questions, please reach out and call us at (360) 650-3164.

Many people come seeking support about relationship problems, stress, low self-esteem, anxiety, depression, body image issues, cultural and identity issues, or eating disorders. Some students seek counseling in response to a traumatic event in their lives, such as the death of a loved one, sexual assault, and interpersonal violence. Still other students may use our services for academic issues such as time management, low motivation, or test and/or performance anxiety. The best way to find out whether counseling is a good option for you is to schedule an assessment at the Counseling Center.

The services of the Counseling Center are free. Students enrolled for 6 or more credits are eligible to use our services. Students enrolled for fewer than 6 credits may be eligible for counseling as long as they have paid the Health Services fee for the current quarter.

To schedule your initial consultation, you may call the Counseling Center between 9 a.m. - 4 p.m. Monday through Friday. The receptionist will schedule a phone consultation with one of our counselors. The initial phone consultation usually takes 30 to 45 minutes.

During your session, your therapist will ask you some standardized screening questions and discuss your concerns to try to understand your situation. Your therapist will provide support and collaborate with you in identifying possible solutions for your concerns. Your therapist may suggest possible next steps for care, such as self-guided apps, peer & community supports, workshops, virtual group therapy, brief individual telementalhealth sessions, or off-campus referrals. Recommendations are tailored to your individual needs and resources. 

During brief counseling appointments at the Counseling Center, your therapist will invite you to talk about your concerns and your strengths. Therapists at the Counseling Center work from a variety of orientations and modalities, and you are welcome to ask questions of them as you begin your work together.

Your role as a client is to join your counselor in identifying the most central, specific problem or problems you wish to resolve, and then actively engage in the process of working on them. Our goal is to see these problems resolved or brought under control so that you can move forward in your life.

Many factors affect what level of service a student receives through the Counseling Center, including the urgency of your situation, your specific concerns, and the availability of counselors and other resources. The Counseling Center provides brief-therapy, which is often comprised of a few sessions. We are not able to provide long-term, individual psychotherapy. 

Many issues can be addressed through counseling workshops and groups. For students desiring longer-term individual counseling, a different counseling approach, or a specialization not available at the Counseling Center, we can assist with appropriate referrals in the community.

Students have unlimited use of psychoeducational classes, workshops, and counseling groups offered by the Counseling Center. While students may express some initial hesitancy about attending, group counseling can offer exceptional opportunities for support and exploration.

If you have to miss your appointment, it is very important for you to call to cancel it 24 hours in advance. If you cancel within less than 24 hours, it is less likely that another person in need of our services can use that appointment. However, we understand that if you are ill, advance cancelations are not always possible.  

Counseling is voluntary and you have the right to refuse counseling or to leave at any time. You may ask to change counselors at any time. Your counselor will be happy to discuss with you his or her theoretical or therapeutic orientation and the proposed treatment within our brief counseling model, including any risks, requirements, or expectations that might exist. You have the right to receive nondiscriminatory care. You have the right to confidentiality.

We keep a record of the services we provide you. You may ask to see and receive a copy of that record. You also may ask us to correct that record if you find it to be in error. We will not disclose your record to others unless you direct us to do so, or unless the law authorizes or compels us to do so (see below). You may see your record or get more information about it by asking your counselor or the Director of the Counseling Center.

We are accountable for our work with you. If you have concerns about your counselor or the course of counseling, we encourage you to discuss them first with your counselor. You also may talk about them with the Director of the Counseling Center, the Assistant Vice President or Vice President of the Division of Enrollment and Student Affairs. You may contact the licensing board of the state, the Department of Health, or the ethics boards of any of a variety of professional organizations such as the American Psychological Association or the American Counseling Association.

The Counseling Center has a strong commitment to each client's right of confidentiality. Strict confidentiality is maintained except under certain very specific circumstances. Information may be shared between counselors on the staff or with other health care providers within Counseling, Health and Wellness Services and with the campus dietitian when needed to provide the best coordinated care.

A legal obligation to release information about you or your counseling occurs when your counselor believes that you are at serious risk of harming yourself or someone else, when a counselor has reason to believe that abuse or neglect of a child or dependent adult may be occurring, or when a court of law compels a release of information by subpoena. Otherwise, information can be released only if you sign a form which authorizes a release and specifies what information is to be released.

Students with academic accommodation needs must initiate a request for services through disAbility Access Center. Students with disabilities are required, by law, to provide written documentation of their disability (from a qualified professional) before services can be provided. While “test anxiety” is not something for which an accommodation can be given, we encourage students who experience test and/or performance anxiety to seek help through the Counseling Center. Through workshops, self-help materials, and possibly a session with a counselor, students can develop strategies and skills for keeping themselves calm and clear-thinking in these potentially stressful situations.

The Counseling Center does not provide evaluations for ADHD or other learning disabilities, although we may be able to suggest behavioral interventions and strategies for improving focus and time management.

Please visit our community referrals page for assistance with obtaining off-campus evaluation and treatment for these and other diagnoses.

The Counseling Center does not currently have a psychiatrist on staff, and we do not prescribe or manage medication. Students interested in medication can make an appointment at the Student Health Center.

We have a number of permanent staff who are licensed clinical psychologists or licensed mental health counselors. Alternatively, you might be scheduled to meet with a doctoral intern. Our interns are carefully selected for our training program and are in the final stages of obtaining their Ph.D. or Psy.D. in psychology.

If brief individual therapy is appropriate for you, you might work with that assessing therapist, or you may request a counselor with particular interests or areas of expertise. Those requests are accommodated when possible based on availability and demand.

The Counseling Center contracts with a service that provides after-hours support to students. To reach a counselor outside of business hours, on weekends, or on holidays, please call the Counseling Center main phone number, 360-650-3164, and dial 1 to be connected with a therapist.

If you are in a life-threatening emergency, call 911.

See Crisis Services.

The Counseling Center is able to offer couples counseling to students when both parties are currently enrolled students. If you are interested in couples counseling, you and your partner must both call the Counseling Center to schedule individual assessments. Make sure to let your assessing therapist know that you are interested in couples counseling.

Many factors affect what level of service a student receives through the Counseling Center, including the urgency of your situation, your specific concerns, and the availability of counselors and other resources. It is our goal to provide quality services in a timely manner to all students who present at the Counseling Center. Depending on your situation, your counselor may determine that longer-term, off-campus counseling or evaluation is most appropriate and will assist you with connecting to an off-campus provider.

We are permitted to provide services only to students who are currently enrolled at WWU. However, we are able to provide consultation and referral to recently-enrolled students who are looking for off-campus services.

If you are considering withdrawing from one or more classes, it may be helpful to talk with a counselor, the Academic Advising Center, and Financial Aid Department about your decision. If you have never been seen at the Counseling Center or attended only an initial assessment appointment, we may be unable to provide you with documentation regarding hardship withdrawal or verification of visit.

While Counseling Center staff are able to provide consultation to faculty/staff around supporting students, faculty and staff are not eligible for counseling services at the Counseling Center.  The Washington State Employee Assistance Program is available for faculty and staff.  Please contact Human Resources for further information.