The nature of services in a university counseling center such as UNO Counseling Services is quite different from services available from staff counselors or social workers in typical K-12 settings. Students in K-12 settings often are able to "drop-in" to speak to a school counselor or social worker "just to talk" or possibly to de-escalate when highly distressed. Additionally, if parents have concerns about their children in this setting, they may contact the school counselor or social worker and ask that they "check-in" with the student or possibly even pull the student from the classroom. This more "informal" form of counseling provided by many K-12 schools is provided under different parameters than those in place at a university counseling center.
Perhaps the most significant difference between counseling in a K-12 setting and in a university setting is that most university 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 services at a counseling center such as UNO Counseling Services. The codes of ethics of mental health professionals prohibit seeking-out (or soliciting) clients. As such, Counseling Services staff will not contact a student at the request of another party. When a student consents to receive mental health services, it is the counselor's role to assess the student's concerns and determine an appropriate course of treatment to address those concerns. This is not the "informal," "drop-in" counseling described above. Students seeking services at UNO Counseling Services are first scheduled for an assessment session at which time the counselor will conduct a thorough assessment of the student's presenting concerns and history. This information is used to make treatment recommendations. The primary goal of Counseling Services' staff is to assist students with identifying the appropriate resources and services needed to address their concerns. If the counselor believes the student's concerns can be addressed in short-term counseling such as is offered at UNO Counseling Services, the counselor will work with the student to develop treatment goals and a treatment plan specifically related to the student's concerns. If the counselor determines that the student's concerns are beyond the scope of services offered at UNO Counseling Services, referrals will be provided. It is also important to note that, if a student is receiving mental health services from another mental health professional, Counseling Services staff will not duplicate services and will refer the student to their current provider for counseling.