Nature of Services
This office offers psychotherapy, personal and career counseling, and psychological assessment services for enrolled students using individual, couples, and group formats. While there are a number of different approaches that can be used to address a client’s issues, it is preferred to use approaches that have been supported through scientific research. Specific information about the type of therapy/counseling to be used will be discussed between you and your counselor. Information about alternative treatment options that may be available will be shared with you. You should evaluate this information along with your own opinion about whether you feel comfortable working with a particular counselor. Should you have any doubts or desire a different approach to address your issue(s), you will be assisted in finding an appropriate referral to another mental health professional.
Duration of Services
Sessions are available by appointment, and vary in duration dependent upon client needs and circumstances. The typical number of sessions also varies depending on the nature of the presenting issue(s). The first session is typically devoted to evaluating your current issues and needs. This will be followed by a recommended course of therapy or a plan designed to respond to your individual situation along with a diagnosis (if appropriate). The results of the assessment and your plan will be addressed with you, and you will be given an opportunity to ask any questions that you may have. Generally students are referred to an outside resource provider if long-term services are needed.
Limitations of Services & Assumption of Risks
Counseling can carry both benefits and risks. Often, counseling can lead to a significant reduction in feelings of distress, improved relationships, and/or resolution of specific issues. However, there are no guarantees for a “cure” or improvement of any condition. Risks may involve experiencing uncomfortable feelings (i.e. sadness, guilt, or anxiety) or discussing unpleasant aspects of your life. However, you do have the right to reframe from discussing any matters that may cause you to become distressed.
In accordance with ethical guidelines, what you discuss with a mental health professional is kept confidential. Your written permission will be required to release information to other parties (i.e. spouse, family members, or outside institutions). In an effort to maintain professional standards, your counselor may discuss specifics of your situation with other mental health professionals as part of consultation to ensure that appropriate services are provided to you.
There are circumstances where information can be released without your consent or authorization. These include:
If you are at risk of being a threat or danger to yourself, a mental health professional is permitted to release information necessary for the purpose of your protection (such as contacting family members or seeking hospitalization)..
If an immediate threat of physical violence against a readily identifiable victim is disclosed, your counselor may take action, which may include notifying the potential victim(s), notifying the police, or seeking hospitalization.
If abuse or harmful neglect of children, the elderly, or disabled/incompetent is known or reasonably suspected, your counselor must file a report with the appropriate state agency.
In the event a client decides to bring a malpractice suite against the counselor, the client’s record will be admitted as evidence in court.
In court proceedings a judge may require the mental health professional’s testimony and client’s record if he/she determines this is necessary to resolve the issues before the court.
The laws concerning confidentiality can be quite complex. While your counselor is willing to discuss these matters with you, he/she is not an attorney. If you have specific legal questions, it is advised that you speak with an attorney.
Familiarity with the training, licensure, and supervision status of a counselor is an important matter and should be known by the client. If you have any questions with regard to such, please ask. In the event that your counselor is in training or in an internship status, the Director of Counseling or their designee will provide appropriate supervision.
Maintenance of Records
Your electronic and/or hardcopy records are stored within the Office of Student Services and are treated as confidential records. These files are accessible by your counselor and the office’s paraprofessional staff. TAMUG CIS maintains the security of electronic files. In accordance with public law, records are maintained for approximately seven years, after which, they are permanently destroyed.
Given that records may contain information that could potentially be misinterpreted by someone who is not a mental health professional, it is a general policy that clients are not provided with copies of their records. If you request, you will be provided a treatment summary unless your counselor believes that it would be harmful to do so.
Cancellation of Appointments
In the event that you need to cancel an appointment, it is expected that you will provide a notice twenty-four hours in advance. While every effort will be made to reschedule you with the earliest available appointment, this may not be until the next regularly scheduled session time due to the obligations of your counselor.
It is expected that your counselor will treat you with respect. This respect is conveyed by maintaining professional standards of conduct as a counselor and by discussing any concerns or questions that you may have.
You have the right to terminate counseling services at any time. However, determining when you should end services is part of the process of counseling. It is expected that you will discuss any decision to end services with your counselor, rather than ending the process abruptly.