About Counseling

This section features a general overview of the counseling process, how it can be helpful to you, and how to get started at the Furman Counseling Center.  By using the links below, you can click ahead to specific information about policies, procedures, and our office hours and location.

Before going on to describe the counseling process, it is worth noting that individual counseling is just one of the services that the Counseling Center provides.  For a listing of all our services, click here.

What is counseling?

Concerns, questions, choices, and changes are part of life, and in many cases, we can work through them ourselves, or with the help of friends or family.  Other times, however, a personal concern can feel too private, complicated, or overwhelming to share with a friend -- or friends and family themselves may be part of the concern.  In these instances, a counseling professional can provide a safe, neutral, confidential setting in which to explore your feelings and thoughts, examine your options, weigh alternatives, and move toward your own goals.

You can expect your counselor to be someone who is interested in listening to your concerns, and who will assist you in understanding them better so that you can deal with them more effectively. Your counselor will ask you some pertinent questions about your background and previous experiences, and will help you clarify your own goals for the therapeutic process.  If you are experiencing any troublesome symptoms, your counselor can discuss appropriate treatment options with you.   If you and your counselor decide to consider medication as an option, we can provide a referral for a medication evaluation with one of our own staff psychiatrists.

You can also expect the following:

  • It's normal to feel anxious the first time that you come for counseling. this is very common, and students usually feel more comfortable after a couple of appointments.
  • You will be doing most of the talking in your sessions.
  • In session, you can talk about whatever is concerning you at the time. Your counselor is willing to openly  discuss whatever is troubling you, and you don't need to worry about starting at the "right place".
  • Remember that change takes time and counseling is not a "quick fix" for your problems. Your counselor will help you explore your feelings and thoughts, examine your options, weigh alternatives, and move toward goals that you set for yourself - but she/he will not, for the most part, tell you what to do.

What brings students to counseling?

Students come to counseling for many different reasons. Counseling may be of help to you if you feel concerned about...

  •  Problems with relationships
  • Where you are going with your life
  •  Feeling depressed or sad
  • Problems with school or studying
  • Family problems
  • Issues or questions related to sexuality
  • Feeling stressed-out
  • Needing support for your coming-out process
  • Eating too much or too little
  • Feeling out of control
  • Something you've never told anyone, but wished you could
  • Feeling alone
  • Not being assertive enough
  • Feeling anxious, or having panic attacks
  • Wishing that you were more comfortable socially
  • Worrying about your appearance or your weight
  • Drinking or using drugs
  • Not feeling good about yourself
  • Habits or behaviors that you feel compelled to do

It's also okay if you aren't exactly sure what the problem is - we can help you talk about that, too.

Who are the counselors?

The Counseling Center staff is made up psychologists, psychiatrists, and social workers, and interns in these fields. As a group, we represent a wide variety of professional interests and specializations, including multicultural issues, wellness, sexual identity, women's issues, and eating disorders. All of us are committed to providing services in ways that recognize, respect, and value the diversity of Barnard students.

To learn more about our staff and our commitments, click here.

What about confidentiality?

Confidentiality is a foundational part of our work in the Counseling Center.  What you talk about with your counselor in session is confidential. That means that we will not inform your parents or professors of what you discuss during sessions. If you want any of  this information to be released to anyone outside the Counseling Center, you must give your written permission. Furthermore, your counseling records will never become part of your academic or administrative records at Barnard. There are limits to confidentiality having to do with risk to your safety or the safety of others.

Exceptions to confidentiality exist in the following rare circumstances:

  • when a counselor has a reason to believe that imminent danger of harm exists with regard to your safety or someone else's
  • when a counselor learns of ongoing abuse or neglect of a person under the age of 18 -- state law requires us to report this to child protection services
  • when a court order, issued by a judge, requires us to release records or testify in a hearing