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What to Expect From Counseling

If you are new to counseling, here are some things to expect:

  • Your counselor will expect you to let her/him know what is most important for you to talk about. You will be doing most of the talking. You may talk about whatever is concerning you. 

  • Your counselor is trained to listen in an objective way to help you examine your concerns, understand yourself better, and explore ways to fulfill your goals and resolve your own problems.

  • Seeking counseling does not mean you are “weak.” Deciding to examine and to work on your issues and concerns is an active and courageous first step in the process of changing your life for the better.

  • Generally, your counselor will not give you advice or tell you what to do. We support the development of your sense of responsibility for your own decisions and life. We help you to help yourself, through helping you to clarify what you think, feel, and value, and to generate alternate ways of thinking about yourself and dealing with your concerns.

  • Your counselor will not be able to “see through” you, or “read your mind.”The more open and honest you are, the more helpful counseling can be. However, you will not be forced to talk about anything you don’t feel ready to talk about. When you do choose to talk about something that is difficult for you, your counselor will listen in a non-judgmental manner.

  • You will be expected to be an active and committed partner in the counseling process.

  • Your meetings with the counselor, as well as what you discuss in sessions, will be kept strictly confidential. [Click here for more information about confidentiality and its limits.]

  • Counseling Services primarily provides short-term counseling. In order to maximize our availability to a large university community, our office generally works with clients from a short-term perspective. For those who are in need of ongoing, longer-term counseling, we work to help them find an appropriate referral to an outside counseling provider or office.

  • When a person first begins to talk about concerns, he or she may have some painful feelings that emerge initially as a result. If you do experience such feelings, talk them over with your counselor.

  • As with all relationships, you may occasionally have a misunderstanding with your counselor. It’s important to tell your counselor about any negative or uncomfortable feelings you have about the counselor or the counseling process. These discussions can become an important part of the counseling itself. If you do not feel comfortable talking with your counselor about these feelings or concerns, you may ask to speak to the counselor’s supervisor or to the Director of Counseling Services.

  • The initial (“intake”) session at Counseling Services is free of charge to enrolled UM-St. Louis students. There is a small charge for any additional counseling sessions. This fee helps to support our services to you. Counseling Services does not receive funding from your Student Activities fee. If you find this charge to be unmanageable, please speak to your counselor about alternate arrangements. We do not wish for anyone to be denied counseling due to financial hardship.