What Is Counseling?

The Counseling Center is committed to helping all students gain the maximum benefit from their educational experiences and prepare for the future. A rich and rewarding experience at Allegheny College requires the ability to integrate academic learning with personal and social growth and development. Counseling is a personal and social learning experience — a way to learn more about yourself and others, a way to develop new life skills, and a way to gain insight, understanding, and acceptance.

Frequently Asked Questions

What do counselors do?
What do students do?
What happens during the first visit?
Who comes for counseling?
How can counseling help?
What is available at the Counseling Center?
When should I refer someone to the Counseling Center?
Is counseling confidential?
How do you find out more about the counseling services?
How do you arrange to see a counselor?


What do counselors do?

  • Listen non-judgmentally
  • Clarify options
  • Provide support and understanding
  • Offer suggestions
  • Ask questions
  • Help during a crisis
  • Refer serious cases for appropriate treatment


What do students do?

  • Describe their situations, including their thoughts, feelings and experiences
  • Consider alternatives
  • Clarify options
  • Offer suggestions
  • Try new ways of thinking and acting
  • Choose whether or not to change
  • Take responsibility for their treatment


What happens during the first visit?

You will be asked to take a few minutes to complete our confidential intake forms in a private waiting area, then you will meet with your counselor. Your counselor will discuss confidentiality and its limits and explain the counseling relationship. Then your counselor will listen to your concerns and together you will decide whether you want or need to return for more sessions. The number of sessions varies among individuals, but are limited per student per semester.


Who comes for counseling?

Many students visit the Counseling Center because they want to learn more about themselves in the new life situations they are encountering. Some students come because they want to improve their studies or are unsure about their major. Others come because they have difficult decisions to make, they are dealing with an unhappy turn of events in their lives, they have a general feeling that they could be getting more out of life, or they want to explore their relationship to the people and the world around them. Students also come for counseling because they feel something is bothering them but they do not know what it is and they do not know how to talk about it. New and returning students, men and women, ethnically/culturally diverse students, and students of differing sexual orientations, among others, use the Counseling Center.

Some of the concerns students often express are:

  • I just can’t seem to make the grades I want.
  • I wish I had more confidence in myself.
  • I feel tense a lot and I worry too much.
  • I’m confused about what I am going to do after I graduate.
  • I don’t seem to be doing very well in my relationships with people.
  • I’m not really sure why I’m in college.
  • I’m experiencing difficulty with my family.
  • I’m dealing with prejudice.
  • I’m concerned about my weight and food.
  • Someone close to me has died.

It would be an unusual student who at some time did not experience challenges in adapting to new situations and changes taking place within her/himself.


How can counseling help?

The Counseling Center can help you cope with challenges regardless of whether you feel your concern is common and relatively simple to overcome or if you view your concern as uncommon and as one that leaves you feeling alone. Very often, you may be able to work out your concerns alone or with the help of a friend. Occasionally, however, because of the nature or magnitude of the concern, getting professional help with specific problem-solving may be desirable. When a solution to a problem is not clear, counseling can provide objective assistance by clarifying options, helping you to choose new ways to cope, and helping you to act on those choices. Counselors can also assist in referrals to local resources as deemed necessary and/or in your best interest.


What is available at the Counseling Center?

In addition to individual counseling, we offer workshops and groups, and have a variety of self-help materials. These are some of the groups and workshops we have offered in the past. (Availability of specific workshops or groups varies each semester based on student need and leader availability):

  • Avoiding Alcohol Abuse
  • Assertiveness Training
  • Self-Esteem Workshops
  • Relaxation Training
  • Eating Concerns Support Group
  • Tips for Academic Success
  • Dating and Relating
  • Anxiety Management
  • Study Skills Workshop
  • Overcoming Perfectionism

We also have referral information for mental health resources in the community and make referrals for serious concerns.


When should I refer someone to the Counseling Center?

As friends, family and concerned others we often find ourselves in positions to help people we care about or know well, or those we may come into contact with during the course of our daily work. At times, it may be helpful and appropriate to discuss a referral to the Counseling Center for someone exhibiting psychological distress or inability to function or participate in daily academic or social activities.

For more information, visit the on-line Referring to the Counseling Center section.


Is counseling confidential?

Yes. No information discussed in the counseling sessions is released from the Counseling Center without your written permission. In some cases, if you would pose a clear and immediate danger to yourself or others, information could be released without your permission to ensure your safety and/or the safety of others. Consultation with other Counseling Center professionals occurs when necessary and appropriate. We provide a private setting and a confidential relationship in which students may discuss their concerns. Your counselor will discuss confidentiality and its limits with you in the first session. For any additional questions that you may have regarding confidentiality, please read our on-line Policy Regarding Informed Consent and Confidentiality.


How do you find out more about the counseling services?

Many people know about our services, so just ask your R.A., your faculty advisor, one of your faculty members, or a friend. Check Counseling Center publications for specific information each semester, or look for our announcements posted on campus. You can also read The Campus or Inside News Weekly and listen to WARC for announcements of workshops and other activities.


How do you arrange to see a counselor?

That’s easy! All you need to do is stop by the Counseling Center in Reis Hall or call (814) 332-4368. Make an appointment convenient to your schedule. If your concern is urgent, please contact us and we will arrange to see you immediately. We maintain office hours weekdays from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Services are free of charge to all Allegheny College students. For emergency assistance after hours, contact the Allegheny College Office of Security at (814) 332-3357.