University Counseling Services: Frequently Asked Questions
- Who can use University Counseling Service (UCS)?
Counseling services are available at UCS for all currently enrolled Truman students. For relationship counseling both students must be currently enrolled at Truman. UCS also offers consultation for concerned others including friends, family, faculty and staff. Counselors at UCS are available to provide outreach presentations for members of the Truman and Kirksville communities.
- Who are the people working at UCS?
Ann, the UCS secretary, will most likely be your first contact. In addition to all her secretarial duties, Ann schedules appointments, and greets visitors to UCS. All of the counselors at UCS have had extensive training in counseling and are professionally dedicated to working with college students. Each counselor at UCS is a licensed mental health professional in the state of Missouri or currently being supervised to obtain licensure. For more information about our staff please see our staff pages. Staff
- How do I set up an appointment?
If you would like to schedule an appointment at UCS you may either stop by McKinney Center or you may call at 660-785-4014, NOTE: you will need to provide your banner ID number to schedule an appointment. Due to the non-secure nature of email, the confidentiality of such communications cannot be ensured and UCS discourages you from using email to share personal information or set up an initial assessment appointment. Also, please note that the staff at UCS does not maintain 24-hour access to email accounts.
*At this time we are unable to allow scheduling appointments online, please contact our office to schedule an appointment.
In the event of a crisis after regular hours please do not use email, instead contact Police Dispatch at 660-665-5621 and ask to speak with the Truman on call counselor. In the event of a medical or safety emergency please call 911.
- Where may I park when I attend my appointment?
UCS does not have a designated parking lot for students seeking counseling services. For a color coded map of Truman State University parking please see Parking Map, note that UCS is located in the McKinney Center, which is building number 17 on this map. UCS does have a bike rack in front of the building available for student use.
- What if I need help after regular business hours?
UCS is open from 8-4:30pm Monday through Friday. If you are in crisis and require assistance outside of these times, you may contact Police Dispatch at 660-665-5621 and ask to speak to the Truman on call counselor. The counselor will call you back as quickly as possible.
- May I bring a friend to my appointment?
It can be uncomfortable to meet with a counselor for the first time and bringing a friend may be one way to ease this discomfort. UCS does allow students to bring a friend to their initial appointment. It will be up to the student whether or not this friend simply accompanies them to the waiting room or attends the appointment with them. While this practice is allowed, it is discouraged because UCS can no longer guarantee confidentiality once a third party is included in sessions.
- What rights do I have at UCS?
You have the right to:
1) have knowledge of your counselor’s qualifications and training;
2) an explanation of any procedure or form of counseling used in your treatment;
3) end counseling with your counselor at any time without any consequences and, if you wish, begin counseling with another mental health professional;
4) review your file with your counselor, the Associate Vice President of Student Health & Wellness, or Assistant Director of UCS, and/or have records of your file released to other professionals with your written consent;
5) request a copy of the ethical codes that govern your counselor’s practice;
6) question your counselor’s competence, and to complain to the Associate Vice President of Student Health & Wellness at UCS or to file formal complaints with pertinent professional and/or legal bodies.
Please feel free to ask any questions or discuss your concerns with your counselor at anytime. If you feel like you cannot discuss something with your counselor, feel free to contact the Associate Vice President of Student Health & Wellness at UCS or Assistant Director of UCS or the Secretary of UCS by telephone, email, or written letter.
- What are my responsibilities at UCS?
It is your responsibility to notify UCS as soon as you are aware you are unable to attend an appointment (even if it is during your appointment time). We appreciate prompt arrival for appointments; advance notice of cancellation allows us to use the time for others. If you are referred to the Student Health Center and/or off campus to health, mental health, or substance abuse professionals, you are responsible for their charges.
- What is the difference between counseling and academic advising?
Personal counseling focuses on emotional concerns, problems in adjusting, and other factors that may affect your ability to achieve your academic or personal goals. Although personal counseling may focus on factors that affect your academic performance, academic advising focuses on academic planning and curricular development as well as helping you to schedule courses and navigate various administrative processes in order for you to successfully complete your degree requirements and graduate.
- Do I need counseling?
If you believe something is bothering you and it is interfering with your ability to function at your best, counseling may be helpful for you. Many people find that speaking with a third party to be awkward at first, but then find it very helpful to receive an unbiased perspective in addition to learning healthier coping skills. If you would like to take an online screening for Depression, Anxiety, Eating Disorders, and Alcohol Abuse to help you determine if you would like to seek professional help, please click here: UCS Online Screenings
- What brings people in for counseling?
People come to counseling for a variety of reasons. Those reasons include, but are not limited to: depression, stress, anxiety, conflicts with roommates, relationship issues, grief, substance abuse, eating concerns, worrying, lack of concentration, academic concerns, and family issues.
- Is it unusual for students to come for counseling at UCS?
Not really. Typically we see about 10% of the student body each year for personal counseling services and over one-third of the student body attends counseling at some point during their academic career. You can find more information about the way students use services at UCS in our Annual Reports.
- I’m not 18 years old yet, can I still come in for counseling?
Missouri law requires, with certain exceptions, that any unemancipated minor receive counseling only with the consent of a parent or legal guardian. If you are under 18 years of age and would like to receive counseling, please contact our office to schedule a consultation appointment so that one of our counselors can review your options with you.
- Will UCS tell anyone that I’m in counseling?
No. All interactions with UCS, including attendance of appointments, content of your sessions, progress in counseling, and your records are not shared with anyone outside of UCS (including parents, faculty and staff members). Your records are electronically stored securely at UCS and are not contained in any academic, educational, or job placement file. The only exceptions to maintaining confidentiality are 1) there is clear and imminent danger to self and/or others, 2) we strongly suspect physical abuse, sexual abuse and/or neglect of a minor or incapacitated adult, or 3) we are issued a court order by a judge and are required by law to testify in a court hearing.
- What do I do next once I decide I want to try counseling?
You may either call or stop by our office to schedule an initial assessment appointment.
- What is an initial assessment appointment?
An initial assessment appointment is the initial appointment during which a counselor will gather information regarding your presenting concerns, what you are seeking from UCS, and how UCS may be of assistance for you.
- Will my parents know that I am in counseling?
No. No one needs to know or will know that you are in counseling unless you want them to. You would need to sign a release of information form if you believe it would be beneficial for your counselor to have contact with a designated person. Otherwise, all information is kept confidential and no one will be told that you are in counseling, not even your parents.
- Will other people at Truman know that I am seeking services at UCS?
No. Due to confidentiality, UCS will not share your records or attendance with anyone on campus including faculty, staff, other students or even the President of Truman. You would need to sign a release of information in order for UCS to have a professional conversation with anyone else at Truman regarding your contact with us.
- What is the normal process of counseling?
Counseling typically consists of meeting with your counselor for 50 minutes once every other week. You will work with your counselor during that time on the concerns you have presented as a problem for you. UCS is focused on short term goal oriented counseling, it may not be possible for UCS to provide long term treatment.
- How long will I be in counseling?
Although the actual time frame will be determined by you and your counselor, typically counseling is complete when you believe you have addressed your concerns so that they are no longer a problem for you and/or you have established effective coping skills to manage your symptoms. This may take one session or it may require continuing with counseling until the end of the school year. Typically our session average is 5 – 6 sessions per client and 85 – 90% of our clients meet for 10 sessions or less each year.
- What can I expect in counseling?
You can expect to be challenged to think about a different perspective or to make difficult changes. It may be uncomfortable at times due to facing difficult situations or emotions but you will always be treated with respect.
- What types of counseling services are available at UCS?
UCS offers individual counseling, couples/relationship counseling, and group counseling. Your intake counselor may recommend group counseling as an effective treatment for your stated concerns. For more information about group counseling, please visit: UCS Groups
- Can my partner/significant other and I come in for relationship counseling even if they aren’t a Truman student?
Unfortunately, no. Both individuals in the relationship must be currently enrolled Truman students to receive relationship counseling.
- Can I receive medication from UCS?
No. UCS is not able to prescribe or monitor medication. You may make an appointment at the Student Health Center or we can help facilitate a referral for you to a practitioner in the Kirksville community.
- Who are the counselors at UCS and what are their credentials?
UCS staff consists of licensed mental health professionals or professionals working towards licensure. For more information on the staff, please visit: UCS Staff
- Is there a cost for services at UCS?
All assessment appointments at UCS are free and then each session is $10. A counselor will discuss the fee with you during your initial appointment. Please let your counselor know if you are concerned about the cost of services or confidentiality concerns related to billing and we will make special arrangements for you.
Most students should expect to attend the initial assessment appointment at no cost and begin paying $10 per session for all following appointments.
- If I talk about being suicidal will the counselor make me go to the hospital?
It is unlikely a UCS counselor’s first response would be to encourage or require hospitalization. UCS’s goal in working with students who are suicidal is to provide them space for healing in the least restrictive environment possible. For most students this means remaining at Truman and continuing all regular activities associated with being a student at Truman. If you share thoughts of suicide with your counselor they will talk to about how to maintain your safety while you are on campus. If you are not able to guarantee your safety your counselor will likely want to collaborate with you to find appropriate outside resources (this may include: other faculty/staff, parents/guardians, support people, AND/OR hospitalization) in order to help ensure your safety.
After the Initial Assessment
- What happens after the initial assessment?
Once you have completed the initial assessment appointment and you and the counselor have determined that you would benefit from ongoing counseling, you and your counselor will schedule your next appointment.
- Who will be my counselor?
In most cases, schedules dictate who will be your counselor due to 1) the limitations of your schedule, 2) the limitations of the schedules of the counselors, and 3) the desire to keep caseloads of the counselors balanced. Please know that every counselor at UCS is a licensed professional counselor, social worker or psychologist who has focused his/her career on helping college students with their mental health issues.
If you specified a preference for working with a specific counselor, we will always try to do our best to accommodate this request but, during times of high-service demand, this may mean a much longer waiting period for you to begin counseling. If you have a specific preference please alert the UCS Secretary, Ann, when scheduling your initial assessment appointment.
- Will the counselor I am assigned to work with always be my counselor?
Most likely, yes. The only reasons that would necessitate you meeting with a different counselor would be you requesting a change in counselor or if you were in a crisis and needed to meet with someone and your regular counselor was unavailable.
- Who are the staff at UCS and what are their credentials?
UCS consists of licensed mental health professionals. For more information on the staff please visit: UCS Staff.
- What if I need help before my first appointment or for that matter after I start counseling?
You are welcome to contact UCS at any time if you would like to speak with a counselor or if you have any concerns. You are welcome to send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org if you have a general question or concern, you may contact your counselor directly at his/her email address or you may contact our office via telephone at 660-785-4014 (x4014 on-campus). If you are in severe emotional distress, a counselor is on-call 24/7 and can be reached by contacting the Police Dispatcher at 660-665-5621 and asking to speak with a Truman counselor.
- What if I am not sure if counseling is for me?
This is not an unusual thought. For many people, talking to someone you don’t know and sharing things that you may have not shared with other people is often a very awkward thing. We have found throughout the years at UCS that the desire to get away from these situations occurs more in the beginning of counseling. Then, after a few sessions, the awkwardness goes away and coming to counseling gets easier (and most people start to feel better too). But we will add that counseling is a voluntary process and is your choice. If you believe that counseling is not right for you or if the timing is not best, you may discontinue counseling at any time (and you may always come back to UCS at another time) but we would appreciate being informed that you are finished so other students may utilize your appointment time.
- My counselor counselor discussed group counseling with me and thought I would benefit from it. What is group counseling?
If the screening counselor talked to you about group, then he/she believed that group would be an effective treatment for you based upon the issues with which you presented. For more specific information about group counseling please visit: Group Information.
- How do I switch counselors?
If you are assigned to work with someone that you are uncomfortable with or do not like, the first thing we suggest for you is to discuss it with your counselor directly. All of the counselors at UCS are very comfortable with this type of discussion and understand that the main focus of our work is to help you achieve your goals. If we are interfering with this progress, we don’t mind stepping aside and letting you work with someone else. Most of the time we find that the discomfort you are experiencing can be resolved by having thoughtful conversations in session and trying different things.
If this does not work, please complete this form and let us know you want to switch. We will work with you to create an individual strategy to identify which counselor may be the best fit for you and help you begin meeting with that counselor.
- What should I do if I did not share important information during my initial assessment?
It is not unusual that you may have left out some details during your screening appointment. If you believe that it is something very important, please be sure that you bring it up during following sessions with your counselor.
- Will I need to fill out paperwork when I attend my ongoing counseling sessions?
The form you completed before your screening appointment will not need to be filled out each time you visit UCS. You will be asked to provide us with more in-depth information at your first ongoing appointment with your counselor and then we will ask you to complete a brief assessment prior to each individual counseling session entitled the Counseling Center Assessment of Psychological Symptoms (CCAPS). The CCAPS is a 34 question assessment that typically takes less than 5 minutes to complete and helps us quickly assess your feelings, thoughts and behaviors during the past week. The best analogy we use for the CCAPS is that it is comparable to taking your temperature when you visit a medical doctor. It allows us to understand in a very general way how you are doing and provides us with some indication if you are doing better, worse or the same that week in comparison to prior weeks.
- I agreed to a statement on the computer that reviewed a lot of legal information. Can I get a copy of that?
Yes. A pdf version of the form can be found by visiting: UCS Forms. The form is titled “Client Informed Consent”.
- What should I do if I have a question that is not asked/answered here?
Ask. Your counselor should be able to answer any question you may have when you meet but you are also welcome to send us an email (email@example.com) or call our office (660-785-4014) if you desire a more immediate response.
- How long should I stay in counseling?
Although the actual time frame will be determined by you and your counselor, typically counseling is complete when you believe you have addressed your concerns so that they are no longer a problem for you and/or you have established effective coping skills to manage your symptoms. This may take one session or it may require continuing with counseling until the end of the school year. Typically our session average is 5-6 sessions per client and 85-90% of our clients meet for 10 sessions or less each year.
- What should I do if I can’t attend my scheduled appointment time?
If you know in advance that you will need to miss a session, please discuss this with your counselor. You may be able to reschedule your appointment for a different day/time, depending on schedule availability. In the event that you are sick, please call (660-785-4014) or email UCS (firstname.lastname@example.org) to notify us of your absence. Due to high demand, UCS has an attendance policy that requires you to attend your appointments on a regular basis for the most effective treatment.
- What if I am in crisis and want to talk to my counselor?
If it is after regular business hours, you may call the Police Dispatcher at 660-665-5621 and ask to speak with the counselor on-call. If it is during regular business hours, call UCS and let us know that you are in crisis and that you would like to speak with your counselor. If possible, an appointment will be scheduled for you sometime that day. Because your call was not a scheduled appointment, please be prepared to speak with a counselor from UCS who may not be your ongoing counselor.
- Can I switch counselors if I believe that I am not making progress or am not connecting to my counselor?
Yes. If you are assigned to work with someone with whom you feel uncomfortable or do not like, the first thing we suggest for you is to discuss it with your counselor directly. All of the counselors at UCS are very comfortable with this type of discussion and understand that the main focus of our work is to help you achieve your goals. If we are interfering with this progress, we don’t mind stepping aside and letting you work with someone else. Most of the time we find that the discomfort you are experiencing can be resolved by having thoughtful conversations in session and trying different things. If this does not work, please complete the change of counselor request form: and let us know you want to switch. We will work with you to create an individual strategy to identify which counselor may be the best fit for you and help you begin meeting with that counselor.
- How do I know if my counselor is a good/effective counselor?
Every counselor has his/her own style of counseling which is developed from his/her counseling theoretical philosophy. A counselor’s job is to help you learn how to help yourself. Therefore, you should be able to talk and work through solutions that will be helpful for you. If you are not accomplishing your goals, it may mean that your counselor’s style may not be a good fit for you or it could mean that you are struggling with how to apply what you’re talking about in counseling sessions to your everyday life. Speak with your counselor if you believe this is the situation for you.
- What can I do if I believe that my counselor has been unprofessional or disrespectful?
We recommend that you bring this up with your counselor and address your concerns regarding what you experienced. If you believe this is not possible or you did not get effective results, you are encouraged to speak with the Associate Vice President for Student Health & Wellness.
- Why do I feel worse after some of my counseling sessions?
Counseling often may be uncomfortable because you are addressing emotions, feelings, and self-awareness issues that aren’t always easy to hear or feel. Facing your feelings and emotions in order to learn how to deal with them so they are no longer presenting problems for you is often an intense and difficult thing to do.
- What does it mean when my counselor recommends switching from individual counseling to group counseling?
There are times when a counselor may believe your presenting concerns may be better addressed in a group therapy environment. This is not an indication that your counselor doesn’t like you or doesn’t want to work with you anymore. It just means that your counselor believes that you have accomplished all you can in individual counseling and that group counseling may be an effective way to continue working on your goals.
- What does it mean if I came for couples counseling and my counselor recommends that we work in individual counseling?
There are times when your counselor may observe individual issues that would be more effective for you or your partner to work on apart from couples counseling. Typically, if this is the recommendation, couples counseling will cease until the individual concerns have been addressed and the focus can be on the relationship. Once this has been established, couples counseling may resume if needed.
- Can I invite my counselor to one of my extra-curricular activities?
This is a complex issue. While we as counselors care about our clients, we need to maintain our professional boundaries to allow us to be impartial. That being said, it will depend on the event and the benefit of your counselor’s presence. If you believe that having your counselor attend a non-academic event would be therapeutically beneficial, you and your counselor should discuss this in session. If it is determined that it is therapeutically beneficial, you and your counselor will come to an agreement on how this will be beneficial and how you will interact at this event.
- Can my counselor write a letter to the Academic Standards Committee and/or Financial Aid office?
UCS limits writing support letters for the Academic Standards Committee and Financial Aid appeals to students who have engaged in therapy during the time period being addressed in the appeal.
- What if I want to come back to counseling at UCS after my counselor & I have decided it is time for me to end counseling?
Yes, you may return to UCS at any time as long as you are currently enrolled at Truman. Your file will be re-activated and you will need to complete paperwork to update your file.
- If I return for counseling will I meet with the same counselor?
Most likely, yes. The only reasons that would necessitate you meeting with another counselor would be if you requested to work with another counselor or if you were in crisis and needed to meet with a counselor and your counselor was unavailable. However, you may request to meet with a different counselor when you contact UCS to schedule your returning initial assessment appointment.
- What happens to my records once I am done with counseling? And may I access them?
According to the requirements of the State of Missouri, your records are stored for a minimum of seven years after the last activity on your file your file will either be shredded or deleted depending on source of your file. If you would like to review your records, you are welcome to meet with your counselor, the Associate Vice President of Student Health & Wellness at UCS or the Assistant Director of UCS in order to discuss questions or concerns you may have. However, due to confidentiality, you will need to sign a release of information if you would like a copy of your records sent to another professional party.
- What happens once my counselor and I determine that I have achieved my goals and no longer need counseling?
Once you and your counselor make a decision that you have achieved your counseling goals your file will be inactivated and UCS will no longer schedule appointments with you. You will then receive an email message requesting that you complete an anonymous on-line evaluation of your counselor and your experience at UCS.
- Can I come back to UCS if I need counseling again?
Yes, you may return to UCS at any time as long as you are currently enrolled at Truman. Your file will be re-activated and you will need to complete paperwork to update your file.
- If I come back to counseling at UCS, may I meet with a different counselor?
Yes, you may request to meet with a different counselor when you contact UCS to schedule your returning initial assessment appointment.
- I am now seeing a non-UCS mental health professional. How do I get my UCS records sent to this professional?
The mental health professional with whom you are working will need to request a copy of your records and send a release of information form signed by you permitting us to provide the information.
- Do I need to come to Kirksville to sign a release of information to get my records sent to another mental health professional?
No. You may call UCS and request that we mail or fax a release of information form to you if you are unable to visit our office. You may also print a copy here.
- Are my records at UCS part of my insurance health records?
No. UCS does not report your mental health records to any group either at or outside of Truman unless you ask us to do so.
The ethics of the counseling profession require that all services offered by University Counseling Services (UCS) are confidential. Simply put, this means that, within ethical limitations, students who utilize our services are guaranteed that information concerning them will not be released to offices or departments outside UCS without the student’s express written permission, except in cases of imminent danger or as otherwise required by law.
If you refer students to UCS, you should be aware that we will be unable to answer any questions you have about that student’s contact with us without his/her written consent. If you have information you think we should know about a student who may or may not be utilizing our services, do not hesitate to contact us; we will be happy to listen to your concerns but we will be unable to provide any information about specific students.
The same guarantee of confidentiality extends to university employees who might make use of our referral service.