The mission of the SUNY Oneonta Counseling Center is to provide counseling and education in support of students’ academic goals. In service of this mission, the SUNY Oneonta Counseling Center offers an integrative model of care to help students cope with current stressors and challenges as well as develop habits and skills for supporting their mental health. Within our integrated model, Counseling Center staff provide individual counseling, group therapy, case management, consultation services, and prevention education programs. In terms of individual counseling services, the Counseling Center offers brief intermittent therapy, which means that students can receive periods of brief treatment over the course of their time at the college. To maximize the effectiveness of therapy while also being fiscally responsible with the student Health Fees, the Counseling Center offers brief therapy interventions available across the student’s time as a student at SUNY Oneonta.
Based on research about therapy effectiveness and the developmental needs of college students, our model employs brief intermittent therapy. This form of therapy allows us to offer counseling services to the changing needs of college students as they progress through their academic careers here at SUNY Oneonta. Research has shown that the greatest rates of change for therapy clients happen in the first several sessions. In addition, studies have shown that people in therapy can make significant progress in just one meeting. Developing good coping skills and good mental health practices can serve a student their whole life and the skills learned in a brief time in therapy can translate into long-term benefits.
COUNSELING CENTER SERVICES
Students work with their counselors to assess their needs and goals for counseling and to decide together what services are appropriate for each individual student that seeks services at the SUNY Oneonta Counseling Center.
Brief individual therapy. Some students may benefit from brief treatment interventions with their counselor. The counselor can help the student identify what goals are appropriate for the brief treatment model and what counseling approach might be best for achieving that goal. In brief individual therapy the counselor and student work very hard together to help the student achieve change and progress towards their goals in a short amount of time. Students who benefit most from this type of therapy are ones who are motivated and ready to make change or do homework to get the most out of their individual counseling meetings. Some problems lend themselves to 1 or 2 appointments, whereas others may require a few sessions. The student and counselor work together to decide what approach is best.
Walk-in Counseling. Walk-in services are first-come, first-serve and are available Monday-Friday starting at 1:30pm when classes are in session. Walk-in counseling services are intended to remove barriers and increase access to therapeutic interventions by enabling students to see a trained clinician at their chosen moments of need. Walk-in Counseling provides quick access to a trained clinician; focuses on the student’s immediate needs or goals for the meeting; works to help you find solutions and create a plan to address your concern and can connect you to other services and resources as needed. During walk-in the counselor generally takes a “One-at-a-time” approach to counseling with the goal of maximizing the benefits of each session of counseling and with recognition that each session might be a student’s last.
Crisis appointments. The Counseling Center reserves some appointment times each day to address the needs of a student in crisis. The SUNY Oneonta Counseling Center defines a mental health crisis as a situation where a student might be a danger to himself or herself or to someone else or when there is a need for immediate action or intervention in order for a student to continue to function in their life. A counselor is available to assist students in crisis to make a plan for their safety and for how to cope with their current stressor. Please call the office ahead of time if possible when coming in for a crisis appointment and please indicate to the secretary that you are requesting a crisis appointment when you call.
Group Counseling. The Counseling Center offers the opportunity for group counseling for students. Group counseling provides unique learning and support services for its members. Bringing together people with similar therapeutic goals helps students connect with other students in similar situations and advance their learning about the goal. Some examples of groups that often run at the Counseling Center are:
- Women and Anxiety
- Anxiety support group
- Children of Addicted Systems
- Relationship Issues
- Grief and Loss
Telepsychology and Telepsychiatry. SUNY Oneonta has received a grant from SUNY to participate in a telepsychology and telepsychiatry pilot program. Through this grant program, students can come for counseling or psychiatric appointments and communicate via an encrypted video-chat software with a provider at SUNY Upstate Medical Hospital in Syracuse NY. Medication providers then send any prescription to a local pharmacy. Services through this grant are free but do have a waitlist at times and the program is designed to support short-term weekly treatment for counseling.
Consultations. Counselors are available to answer questions to general mental health questions and to provide advice or resources to students, faculty and staff who have questions about mental health issues. Sometimes you may have a question or concern and you are not sure if you need to meet with a counselor. Counselors are available to answer questions if you have concerns about yourself or someone else. For more information about consultations, follow this link.
Case management and referral for those seeing long-term or specialty care. The Counseling Center does not offer long-term therapy or weekly therapy as that is not within the resource capacity of the Counseling Center to provide. We also follow professional ethics code and recognize that there are mental health concerns that require specialty and long-term care and that are beyond the scope of our practice. Students with the desire for weekly or long-term care or who are in need of specialty care for their condition will receive help from Counseling Center Staff to help find an affordable referral options. Counseling staff understand the challenges associated with finding an outside provider and can help a student navigate the system and find a provider they like and trust to support them in a long-term counseling relationship.
If students already have a long-term relationship with a counselor at home, we encourage them to continue with their home provider if possible. Many counselors are offering counseling over the phone or video-chat. We encourage students in long-term counseling to pursue this option with their home provider as changing counselors can be disruptive. The Counseling Center can arrange for students to reserve a private room so they may have a private space for their counseling sessions.
Limits of services
The Counseling Center aims to provide high quality care to student given the resources, mission, and range of expertise on staff. In addition, we follow the best practices and standards of care in the mental health field and recognize that some mental health conditions require higher levels of care including long-term, continuous therapy and/or specialty care. Some examples of conditions that require long-term or specialty care are chronic and severe mental illness conditions, eating disorders, chronic suicidality or other risk concerns, court mandated counseling and significant or long-term substance abuse and other addiction issues.
The SUNY Oneonta Counseling does not provide long-term, weekly individual counseling. If you want longer-term care, our counselors can help you find a community provider in the Oneonta area willing to provide these services.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
Is there a limit to how many sessions I may have?
There are no limits on a student’s ability to meet with a counselor when they need. Students are always welcome and encouraged to seek services at the Counseling Center and we would never turn a student away. Students are especially welcome to utilize walk-in counseling as much as they need. However, the Counseling Center does not do long-term individual therapy. For any students wanting to establish a provider they can meet with as often and as long as they need or need specialized mental health care, we can help facilitate a referral to a provider that meet their needs.
Why does this model make sense for college student mental health?
The Counseling Center views mental health as a continuum representing the range of a student’s level of functioning and wellness from impaired to flourishing. We find that students will likely find themselves on different places in the continuum as they encounter life situations throughout different parts of their college careers. The Counseling Center staff believes in the growth and resilience of our students and that they naturally and instinctively move in a direction of increased health and wellness. Helping students face and overcome a particular challenge promotes the student’s ability to meet normal developmental tasks including developing healthy patterns and coping strategies. Students might typically seek short periods of counseling for issues such as adjusting to college as a new student, relationship concerns or problematic patterns, life situations such as losing someone, alcohol and/or substance use, academic stressors, and stress associated with the transition to life after graduation.
Counseling is a process that is in many ways tailored to fit an individual's needs. This makes it difficult to give a single, comprehensive answer to how counseling works. However, here you will find a collection of information that might help to clear up some answers people often have about counseling.
When should you seek help?
People are always welcome to come to the counseling for any kind of issue but we generally recommend that a person should get help when their problems are getting in the way of their studies or interfering with their ability to function normally. Occasionally when people are upset they temporarily feel unable to study or eat and sleep normally, but if the problem continues or has serious consequences, it is important to seek help for it.
TALKING TO AN COUNSELOR CAN BE HELPFUL WHEN:
- A problem is impacting your academic performance or affecting your relationships.
- You are feeling anxious, down/ depressed, or overwhelmed.
- You are concerned about friends, roommates, romantic partners or problems at home.
- You are affected by an event such as being away from home; a death or loss; an end or beginning of a relationship; or a national or world event such as Hurricane Katrina.
...OR ANY TIME YOU WANT TO TALK TO SOMEONE FOR HELP.
IT IS NEVER TOO SOON OR TO LATE TO CALL THE COUNSELING CENTER.
Some students may feel that their problem isn't important and they should be able to deal with it by themselves. But if a problem is beginning to impact on your academic performance or on your relationships, maybe it is time to talk about it with someone else who can be objective. Even if your academic work and grades are OK, if you are feeling anxious, sad or down, or having another problem that goes on for more than two weeks, please consider talking to a counselor.
Sometimes students get into a downward spiral because of a problem and then they just decide things have gone too far and no one can help. It is true that some problems are more complicated. At the Counseling Center we have a lot of experience with all kinds of problems that college students have, and can help you figure out where to start, and how to put a plan together.
Sometimes students are concerned not about themselves, but more about a friend, roommate, or family member, and that person's problems. Students sometimes get into "caretaking relationships" with their friends, roommates, lovers, or family members. While that is certainly understandable with people you are close to this can get to the point where the caretaking significantly interferes with your life, studies and relationships. Students sometimes become so worried about another that they can't study, concentrate, or relax. One of our services is to consult with you, to make sure your friend gets the help they need, but also help you get your life back to normal.
Your time at SUNY Oneonta can be a wonderful experience but it can also be very stressful at times. Students seek counseling to help them with issues such as:
- Adjustment to College Life
- Roommate issues and living in the dorms
- Making friends and establishing a social life
- Time management
- Managing greater responsibility for your own learning
- Concerns about the future
- Relationship problems and break-ups
- Financial problems
- Life after college
- Worried about things home
- Illness in the family
- A troubled sibling/ family member
- Death of a family member, friend or pet
- Recent or past sexual trauma
- Alcohol or other drug use
- Gambling problems
- ..And many more.
Sometimes you may have several of these challenges at once. You may be overwhelmed in spite of all of your efforts. An outside perspective can help you begin to find solutions.
The Counseling Center can help because it offers a safe, confidential professional place where a student can slow down, think out loud, get support, and start finding solutions. A counselor can teach you things like new ways to manage stress or communicate with your partner. They can offer new perspectives and help you identify more options. Counselors can also put you in touch with other resources on and off campus to help with your problems. Counseling is a great way to get support during a difficult situation.
Many people feel nervous about their first counseling appointment. Your counselor understands that its hard to talk to someone you don't know about your personal problems. It might help you to feel less nervous if you know what to expect on your first visit.
When you get to the counseling center office, you will be greeted by the receptionist Jan Cramatte. You should plan to arrive 10-15 minutes early to fill out some paperwork and read some information about the counseling center and your rights as a client. When you are finished with your paperwork you should give it back to Jan and she will call your counselor to let them know you are ready.
Your counselor will come to the office to meet you and escort you to their office. Your counselor will probably begin by telling you about him or herself. Then she/he will discuss your rights as a client and issues of confidentiality.
After that, the counselor will probably ask you to describe why you came for counseling. The counselor may ask questions about all the different parts of your life in order to get to know you more and to understand how the problem fits into and/or affects other areas of your life. Don't worry, the counselor can take the lead in this part of the conversation and help you to explain why you are there.
It is important to understand that you and your counselor are partners in understanding and working on your problem. If there's something you want your counselor to know but she/he hasn't asked yet, feel free to offer the information. If you have questions or concerns about counseling or any other issue, it is important to ask. The better you can communicate your worries or needs to your counselor, the better your counselor will be able to respond to your concerns or needs.
At the end of the first meeting, the counselor will probably ask you or help you to develop some goals for counseling. Its helpful to discuss some goals for counseling so that you and your counselor are on the same page and understand what you want to accomplish in counseling. The counselor may then make recommendations about how they feel you could best achieve your goals, which may include short-term individual counseling at the counseling center, group counseling, referral for more evaluation or treatment by a specialist in your area, or a consultation with a health professional about medication.
Attendance: The first step is just showing up! If you put time into getting help, that time will pay off for you. And we can’t help you if you’re not here. Also please respect the therapist’s time.
Commit to getting help and making changes. You may spend hours per week watching tv or socializing or learning about different subject matters – but don’t forget your counseling appointment, which is about what’s most important: you! Commit to some time to learn about yourself and make positive changes in your life.
Identify what you need. Think about what you want to talk about, and what feedback or help you want. The clearer you are with what you need, the more your therapist can help you. Not sure? Don’t worry, your therapist will help you to focus on key issues.
Assess progress: let your therapist know how it’s going. Tell us what helps (or what doesn’t). We really want your feedback, it helps us to serve you better.
Take it with you: find ways to take what you learn with you. Ask your therapist to write down or give you a handout on your goals/insights/learning. Your therapist may suggest some things in between sessions for you to try, write about, think about, etc. This helps you to help yourself between sessions. Take time after sessions, preferably that same day or evening, to go over what was discussed – it’s important and it’s about you, so it’s worth it to think over. Reflecting gives you a chance to absorb what you learn. It also helps you apply counseling to your life.
Remember that, like anything in life: the more you put into it, the more you get out of it.
When you think someone needs counseling and you want to talk to them, try some of these helpful hints:
Tell the person clearly and directly what you have observed that causes you to become concerned:
"Every time I see you, you look like you have been crying. You don't seem like your usual self. You have been missing a lot of classes. You always appear sad. In class I see you just kind of staring off..."
"Every time I see you, you look angry. I hear you talk with your friends and it always seems like you are arguing. I don't know exactly how much you are drinking, but it seems like I see you coming in late a lot, and usually you look intoxicated."
Tell the person how you feel, or what it generates in you when you observe these things.
"When I put that all together, I get concerned about how you are doing. I wonder if you have too much stress or too many things to deal with right now. I get concerned about you."
"You worry me. I am not sure you are OK. Maybe you have too much to handle by yourself."
Give the person some information you have about the Counseling Center.
"I want to make sure you know that we have a Counseling Center for students here. It's free and all you have to do is call this number and make an appointment. It's also confidential."
"Have you ever considered going to the Counseling Center on campus? It's free. It's confidential. They can help you figure out and plan, or put together what might be bothering you. They know college students pretty well there."
If an appropriate offer to come with them on the first visit, but encourage them to make the appointment themselves.
"You need to make your own appointment, but if you want a little moral support, I'd be glad to walk over with you and introduce you."
All contacts at the counseling center are confidential. We can't even let you know if your friend, student, son, or daughter has made an appointment here without written permission.
We would be happy to provide more consultation about how to talk to your friend about counseling call the counseling center at (607) 436-3368.
Counselors can provide fun and interactive educational programs for classes, student groups, and residence halls. We can design programs to meet the needs and interests of your group. Some of our most popular programs include:
- Introduction to the Counseling Center and Our Services
- Alcohol and Other Drug Education and Prevention
- Stress Management/Relaxation Strategies
- Dealing with Homesickness
- Personality Type
- Body Image
- Confrontation Skills
- Mental Skills for Stress Management
- Men's Issues
- Women's Issues
- Cooperative Activities/ Team Building
- Responding to Sexual Assault
- Relationship Violence
- Listening Skills
- Skills For a Healthy Relationship
- How to Get Along With a Roommate
- Coping with Crises
- Suicide Education and Discussion
You are welcome to contact the Counseling Center office at 607-436-3368 if you would like more information about these programs or if you would like to request a presentation for your group.