Answers to Frequently Asked Questions

Following are answers to some frequently asked questions about Counseling Services. If you have additional questions or need additional information, please call Counseling Services (504.280.6683) or drop by our offices in the University Center (UC 226).

Is counseling at UNO Counseling Services confidential?

Counseling offered through UNO Counseling Services is confidential as defined by state and federal law pertaining to mental health counseling and those licensed to provide it (e.g., Licensed Clinical Social Workers, Licensed Professional Counselors, Licensed Psychologists, etc.), and, in most cases, no information about a client’s contact with Counseling Services can be released to anyone within or outside of the University without a client's prior written consent. This means that Counseling Services staff can neither confirm nor deny that someone is or has ever been a client of Counseling Services, or even that the person has or has ever had an appointment at Counseling Services unless the client authorizes us to do so. There are exceptions to confidentiality including (but not limited to) when a client is a danger to him/herself or someone else, when a counselor suspects abuse or neglect of a child, an elderly person or someone who is mentally or physically disabled, and when a court of law orders records released. When such situations arise, Counseling Services staff adhere to relevant legal and ethical guidelines for disclosure and will only disclose information as needed/required.

Is my client record at Counseling Services part of my academic record?

No. Per the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), Counseling Services client records are separate and distinct from a student’s academic record (cf.” Is counseling at UNO Counseling Services confidential?”). However, if a client requests that their client record and/or information about their contact with Counseling Services be released to another party/department at the university, the information released may then become part of the student’s academic record. Students requesting such a release of records/information are encouraged to inquire about how the information will be used, stored and/or otherwise maintained by the receiving party/department.

What time should I arrive for my first session?

Just as when you visit a doctor's office for the first time and are asked to complete a few forms necessary for patient files, so too will you be asked to complete forms for our records. With this in mind, all new clients (for personal and career counseling) are asked to arrive at Counseling Services 20 minutes prior to the scheduled appointment in order to complete the necessary paperwork. This will help ensure that you have a full 50 minute intake session and the counselor will have ample time to complete a thorough assessment.

Will I be charged for counseling?

There's no charge for the initial assessment. A small fee (determined with your counselor based on your income and a sliding scale) will apply for ongoing counseling. Career testing and counseling is offered for a very reasonable fee. Your counselor will discuss these fees and work with you regarding any financial concerns you may have.

What can I expect during the initial intake/assessment session?

The main purpose of the initial session or "intake interview" is to gather information about you and your reasons for seeking counseling. Whether you're seeking personal counseling for problems such as anxiety or depression, or career testing and counseling because you're still not certain what you want to do with your life, the intake interview is essentially the same. Your counselor will typically begin the session discussing confidentiality and explaining the services offered at Counseling Services. As the intake interview continues, your counselor will provide an opportunity for you to discuss your current concerns and ask a variety of questions about these concerns and your personal history. Your counselor will use this information to better understand your presenting concerns and determine where and how your needs can best be addressed. Sometimes, more than one session is needed to gather enough information to complete assessment and make appropriate treatment recommendations.

What happens when the initial intake/assessment session ends?

After completing the assessment, your counselor may share with you some general impressions about your situation and concerns, and discuss with you your counseling options. If your counselor determines that your concerns can be addressed within the short-term treatment offered at Counseling Services, you'll be asked to identify specific goals for treatment so a treatment plan can be developed, and schedule a follow-up appointment. If your counselor determines that you concerns would be better addressed in long term and/or specialized treatment, a referral will be made at that time. Please don't be alarmed if this happens. Our primary goal at UNO Counseling Services is to make certain our clients get the most appropriate help available. Sometimes, this necessitates a referral to other agencies and resources.

What is "short-term treatment?"

Short-term treatment can be defined as time-limited counseling with a clear focus, specific treatment goals and measurable outcomes. When a student presents at Counseling Services with mental health concerns, counselors assess the student's current concerns and conduct a full psychosocial assessment to determine appropriate treatment recommendations. Many factors must be considered when determining treatment recommendations (e.g., nature, severity and duration of the presenting concern, presence of other mitigating or exacerbating concerns such as problematic substance use) and not all presenting concerns can be adequately or fully addressed in a short-term treatment. Counseling Services staff are trained to distinguish between concerns which can be addressed in short-term treatment and those which warrant longer-term or specialized care. When working with students with mental health concerns, the primary goal of Counseling Services is to help students access the services which will best meet their needs. Sometimes, this requires referring students for longer-term or specialized treatment, not unlike a primary care physician will refer a patient to another provider when the patient's needs are beyond the scope of services the primary care physician offers.

Why are some students who go to Counseling Services referred out for counseling?

The primary goal of Counseling Services is to assist students with securing the most appropriate services to address their concerns. When a student presents at Counseling Services with mental health concerns, counselors assess the student's current concerns and conduct a full psychosocial assessment to determine appropriate treatment recommendations. Counseling Services staff are trained to distinguish between concerns which can be addressed in short-term treatment (such as is provided at Counseling Services) and those which warrant longer-term or specialized care. If, at the end of assessment or at some time during treatment, your counselor refers you for services elsewhere, please know that Counseling Services staff have your best interest in mind and want to make certain you can access the services which will best meet your needs. 

Does Counseling Services offer “drop-in” or “informal” counseling when I just need to talk to someone (like I had in middle school/high school)?

The services offered by a university counseling center such as UNO Counseling Services (UNOCS) are somewhat different from those available from school counselors in typical K-12 settings. First and foremost, most students in K-12 settings are minors (below age 18) and, in Louisiana, except under very specific circumstances, minors cannot receive mental health counseling without parental consent. In a university setting, most students are adults (as defined by law) who can consent to confidential mental health counseling. When a university student has mental health concerns, he/she can choose to seek and consent to receive mental health services. Also, unlike school counselors, UNOCS staff cannot seek out (or directly solicit) students by inviting or encouraging them to seek mental health counseling. Second, students in K-12 settings often are able to "drop-in" to speak to a school counselor "just to talk" or possibly to de-escalate when highly distressed. Apart from mental health emergencies (e.g., suicidal or seriously impaired students), UNOCS sees students by appointment. In a K-12 setting, while a school counselor may meet regularly with a student to address concerns which impact the student’s academic and social functioning, and general well-being, if a school counselor is concerned a student may have a mental health issue warranting formal assessment and treatment, the counselor will typically refer the student for clinical mental health assessment and related services. In contrast to school counseling as described, UNOCS provides clinical mental health services, specifically, problem assessment and short-term mental health counseling for concerns which can reasonably be addressed within a limited number of sessions. Students seeking services at UNOCS are first scheduled for an assessment session during which a counselor will conduct a thorough assessment of the student's presenting concerns and history, and identify the student’s goals for counseling. This information is used to make treatment recommendations. If the counselor believes the student's concerns can be addressed in short-term counseling such as is offered at UNOCS, the counselor will work with the student to identify specific, time-limited treatment goals and develop a treatment plan specifically related to these goals. If, based on clinical judgment, the counselor determines that the student's concerns and/or counseling goals are beyond the scope of services offered at UNOCS or if the student desires ongoing treatment without session limits, referrals will be provided. The primary goal of UNOCS staff is to assist students with identifying the appropriate resources and services needed to address their mental health concerns.

Can I see a counselor at Counseling Services if I already have a regular counselor?

If a student is currently in counseling with a mental health professional, Counseling Services will not duplicate services. Students presenting at Counseling Services who already have a counselor will be referred back to their counselor for treatment.

Does Counseling Services offer ongoing counseling without session limits?

Counseling Services offers counseling for concerns which can reasonably be addressed in a time-limited, focused, short-term model of treatment. When longer-term or ongoing counseling is warranted (based on the assessment of the counselor) or desired by a student, Counseling Services staff will provide referrals.

Does Counseling Services offer counseling for long-standing/chronic mental health concerns?

If you have long-standing mental health concerns, it is likely that your treatment needs are beyond the scope of services offered through Counseling Services. As such, it is probably in your best interest to seek services from a provider offering ongoing, longer-term mental health counseling. To assist you with this, you can schedule an intake/assessment session with Counseling Services at which time a counselor will conduct a thorough assessment, make treatment recommendations and offer referrals. Also, while Counseling Services does not have a psychiatrist (or anyone else with prescribing privileges) on staff, Counseling Services can provide referrals for students needing or desiring medication to address their concerns. Please note, too, that if you are currently receiving services from another mental health professional, UNO Counseling Services will not duplicate services.

Does Counseling Services provide psychotropic medication and/or medication management?

While Counseling Services does not have a psychiatrist (or other individual with prescribing privileges) on staff, Counseling Services staff can provide referral information for students desiring/needing medication or medication management. It is recommended that students with health insurance first consult their insurance policy’s schedule of benefits to determine level of coverage and the preferred provider list to identify an appropriate provider.

Does Counseling Services provide assessment and/or medication for ADD/ADHD?

Counseling Services does not offer the psychological assessment battery for ADD/ADHD. Students seeking assessment for ADD/ADHD for the purposes of documentation of a disability (e.g., for academic accommodations through the UNO Office of Disability Services) or for medication, will be offered referrals to agencies/individuals offering such services.

Can Counseling Services write a letter as part of my appeal for lost financial aid/scholarships?

If a student received treatment at Counseling Services for a condition or concern directly related to and concurrent with a student’s loss of financial aid/scholarship, Counseling Services staff will review the student’s Counseling Services chart to determine if providing such a letter would be appropriate. Counseling Services will not provide such a letter if student had no prior contact with Counseling Services or if the student previously received treatment at Counseling Services for a condition or concern not directly related to the loss of financial aid/scholarship.

Does Counseling Services provide documentation for emotional support animals?

An emotional support animal (ESA) is an animal that provides emotional support, comfort, companionship, therapeutic benefits, and/or promotes emotional well-being in some way. In order to qualify to have an ESA on campus, a student must have a documented disability (with the UNO Office of Disability Services), the animal must be necessary to afford the student an equal opportunity absent without the presence of the animal, and there must be an identifiable relationship between the disability and the assistance the animal provides. Providing the appropriate diagnosis and documentation required to qualify for an ESA is outside the expertise and scope of practice of UNO Counseling Services (UNOCS) staff. Additionally, UNOCS does not offer psychological testing for disability accommodations or provide formal diagnosis. UNOCS recommends that students with documented disabilities requesting approval for an ESA seek appropriate documentation from their previous medical/mental health services provider(s). UNOCS recommends that students without documented disabilities seeking approval for an ESA seek assessment from an appropriately-qualified mental health and/or medical professional who provides such services.