Student Counseling Center FAQs

Will services at the Student Counseling Center cost me anything?

There is no fee charged for Student Counseling Center services for all currently enrolled UW Tacoma students.

Does the Counseling Center offer career counseling?

The Student Counseling Center does not offer career counseling, but the Career Development Center does.

If I go to the Student Counseling Center for help, does that mean there is something wrong with me?

No. Students who use the SCC are interested in their personal growth and adjustment in the world around them. Students face normal developmental concerns and academic pressures while at UW Tacoma and, at times, may feel anxious, angry, lonely or depressed. The SCC staff members are trained professionals who help students explore alternative coping strategies and ways of dealing with themselves and the world.

Who is eligible for services at the Student Counseling Center?

All currently enrolled UW Tacoma students are eligible for psychological services. Sometimes other persons important in your life, such as a partner, spouse or friend may be involved in the counseling process as well and do not have to be a UW Tacoma student.

Can I bring my family, including minor children, to my sessions?

No, we are not equipped to handle family counseling at this time.

Am I safe with my sexual orientation here?

Yes, we have specialized training in Safe Zone, and have counseling services for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning (LGBTQ) students.

Can the Counseling Center help me with my sexual orientation?

The college years are a time when many students begin to sort out their values and figure out who they are. It is not uncommon for students to question their sexual orientation and/or gender identity and explore how to integrate these with the rest of their life. The Counseling Center can be of assistance to you if you are experiencing any of the following:

  • You are experiencing confusion about your sexual orientation or gender identity.
  • You are exploring coming out to peers, professors, family or friends and feel like you could use some help figuring things out.
  • You are an LGBTQ person of color and are experiencing multiple forms of oppression.
  • You feel at odds with society's gender roles and messages.
  • You are experiencing tension or harassment due to someone's reaction to your sexual orientation or gender identity.
  • You are trying to accept/understand another's sexual orientation and need to talk to someone open and nonjudgmental.
  • You have LGBTQ parent(s) and are concerned about developing relationships with people who will be open and accepting of your family's diversity.
  • You are completely comfortable with your orientation and expecting a counselor who is equally comfortable.

Counseling may help you:

  • Increase your understanding about sexual orientation and/or gender identity.
  • Identify and respond to cultural/family messages about orientation and/or gender identity.
  • Reduce shame and confusion you might be feeling.
  • Help you explore your multicultural identity.
  • Assist you with past experiences, and ongoing family concerns.
  • Identify and eliminate self-defeating behavior that you may currently be using. (Alcohol and other drugs, food, sex, exercise, etc.)
  • Help you find, or maintain, your emotional balance so you can be successful academically, socially, and spiritually.
  • Find support and resources while you are adjusting to the campus community.
  • Consider issues of sexual health.

I have a chronic physical/medical condition, can the Counseling Center provide ongoing support?

We can provide short-term counseling and help you choose a provider in the medical community, if long-term therapy is needed.

Why do people consider using counseling?

Counseling is a partnership between an individual and a professional who is licensed and trained to help people understand their feelings and assist them with changing their behavior.

People often consider counseling under the following circumstances:

  • They feel an overwhelming and prolonged sense of sadness and helplessness in their future.
  • Their emotional difficulties make it hard for them to function day to day. For example, they are unable to concentrate on assignments and their class performance suffers as a result.
  • Their actions are harmful to themselves or others.
  • They are troubled by emotional difficulties facing family members or close friends.
  • They just need someone with whom to talk.

What types of counseling are available?

Individual counseling, couples counseling, and group counseling are available.

Individual Counseling: This form of counseling provides the opportunity to discuss and explore problems or feelings that are important to you. The general aim of individual counseling is to help you grow toward greater freedom in making informed choices and acting on personal decisions that are satisfying to you.

Couples Counseling: Assistance available to couples who wish to clarify and work to resolve the sources of stress and conflict within their relationship. Spouses and partners who are not students can be seen at the Counseling Center if they are engaging in therapy as part of couples counseling with a currently enrolled student.

Group Counseling: There are times when the best way to work on personal change and understanding is within a group setting. This provides the opportunity to share and learn from others, to improve specific skills, and to receive feedback and support. Students are encouraged to call the Counseling Center with suggestions for group topics.

What does research show about the effectiveness of counseling?

According to surveys done by the American Psychological Association, the most common reason people don't engage in counseling is because of a lack of confidence in the outcome.  With that in mind, based on the last 50 years of psychotherapy outcome research, we can say definitively, COUNSELING WORKS!  The average treated person is better off than 80% of a similarly distressed untreated group.

In our own work at UW Tacoma's Student Counseling Center, we formally track how clients are responding to sessions and make adjustments based on client feedback.  The results?  61.8% of our clients report clinically significant or reliable change vs. a benchmark of 32.7% in the field (Hansen et al., 2002).   Additionally, improvement in counseling doesn't take long.  After 2 sessions, the average client reports a 14.3% improvement, 23.7% after 3 sessions, 28.9% after 4 sessions, and 40.1% improvement at the end of treatment.

Other research highlights counseling's impact on reducing costs related to medical expenditures, reductions in lost work days, and maintenance of gains made in counseling even after services have been ended.

To summarize, counseling is very effective for a variety of presenting issues with diverse populations.  Most clients report improving in a relatively brief period of time and the gains made in counseling tend to be maintained over time.

If I begin counseling, how do I gain the most from it?

  • This is a goal-orientated, solution-focused, brief therapeutic approach. You are expected to be an equal partner in the process. Be prepared to invest and commit yourself to benefit you the most.
  • There are many approaches to counseling and various formats in which it may occur, including individual, group and couples. Despite the variations, all counseling is a two-way process that works especially well when you and your therapist communicate openly. Research shows that the outcome of counseling is improved when the therapist and the client agree early about what the major problems are and how counseling can help.
  • You and your therapist both have responsibilities to establish and maintain a good working relationship. Be clear with your therapist about any concerns that may arise. Counseling works best when you attend all scheduled sessions and give some forethought as to what you want to discuss during each session.
  • Counseling isn't easy. But individuals willing to work in close relationship with their psychologist often find relief from their emotional distress and begin to lead more productive and fulfilling lives.

Does the counseling center prescribe medication? Do you have a nurse practitioner or psychiatrist on staff?

We don't have a medical professional able to prescribe medications, but if necessary, we can refer you to a psychiatrist or a nurse practitioner who can work with us to monitor your medications.

How do you communicate with my other healthcare providers?

If we decide it is beneficial for us to communicate with them, we will ask you to sign a release of information before we contact your other providers.

How do I make an appointment?

Call 253-692-4522, email uwtshaw@uw.edu, or stop by in MAT 354 between 8A-5P. The staff will make an appointment that best fits your schedule and as soon as possible. After your first appointment, your Student Counseling Center psychologist will discuss with you a good time for both of you to continue seeing each other.