Frequently Asked Questions

Questions About Counseling

Our counselors excel in working with students and the pressures they often face: academic concerns, feeling overwhelmed or lonely, concerns related to relationships, family, roommates, questions about gender identity and sexual orientation, experiences related to racism, sexism, ableism, transphobia, etc. While each counselor may have a different style, all are interested in building a collaborative relationship with each student they see. The work focuses on specific issues and how these play out in a student’s life. Counselors consider the internal and external factors impinging on a student’s ability to function at an optimal level while identifying and fortifying the student’s internal strengths and accessible resources.

A: The counselor is a trained professional who has spent several years learning how to help students explore and find ways to resolve any number of concerns. Things discussed within the counseling relationship are kept confidential, whereas, this is not always the case when talking with friends or family. The counselor will respect your privacy and is bound by ethical standards and legal state statutes. Unless the student is an immediate danger to themselves or others, their conversations with a counselor will remain private. Meet our staff!

A: Student confidentiality is strictly maintained. Each of the counseling services staff is bound by legal and ethical guidelines to protect your privacy. It is your decision whether or not to discuss using the service with family, friends, or college personnel. Should you decide to have your counselor talk with your parent (or former counselor, your dean, etc.) they will do so only after receiving your expressed consent. Should your parent (or anyone) call to speak with your counselor without your expressed consent, our staff will neither confirm nor deny that you are receiving services here.

However, if a student is an immediate danger to themselves or others, the counselor is obliged to seek a higher level of care to safeguard those involved. This may include contacting family members or others to support the student in remaining safe. If such a situation arises, the counselor will make every effort to fully discuss the process with the student before taking any action and will limit any disclosures to what is ethically and legally necessary.  

A: Recognizing that you have a problem, and taking advantage of resources to resolve it, is a sign of health, not weakness. Counseling can be a powerful tool that helps you understand yourself and your situation better, so that you can become freer and more self-sufficient.

A: You can see a counselor/psychiatrist up to 10 times (sessions) at no charge. The fee for sessions beyond the 10th is $75.00. Beginning at the 11th session, counseling invoices can be submitted to the your health insurance provider for possible reimbursement. You can view and print invoices for counseling fees on your Medicat Student portal. For students who have United Health Care through BMC, counseling costs are covered 100%. Students only need to complete a United Health Care claim and submit this form to United Health Care. No student is ever denied needed care due to financial hardship. If you have questions or concerns about costs, please talk with your counselor about a fee waiver.  

A: In order to avoid a $20 late cancellation fee, students must call the receptionist 24 hours prior to their scheduled appointment.

No subject is off limits in therapy! Our counselors are trained to work with students on a variety of concerns. In some cases, it may not be entirely clear where to start, and that’s okay too. Do your best to speak honestly and thoroughly about your experiences, your reasons for seeking counseling, and trust the process. Here are some examples of topics that students bring to counseling: 

  • Procrastination and study skills 

  • Body image  

  • Self-esteem 

  • Loneliness/disconnection 

  • Disillusionment 

  • Anxiety and/or depression 

  • Intimate relationships, including abuse 

  • Trouble with interpersonal relationships or roommate issues 

  • Family issues 

  • Eating concerns 

  • Anger 

  • Sexual orientation 

  • Gender identity 

  • Cultural or ethnic concerns 

  • Substance use concerns 

  • Concerns related to Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Anti-Racism 

Any student interested in receiving counseling services starts by scheduling a Brief Assessment appointment. These 25-minute appointments involve gathering information about a student’s current needs, methods of support, and any other salient factors the student would like to share. The goal of these appointments is to determine the best treatment option for the student. Depending on the outcome of the Brief Assessment, a student may be recommended for ongoing therapy at Counseling Services, a referral to psychiatry, groups, workshops, and/or clinical case management to connect with off-campus resources. In some cases, a student may feel that their needs have been met in the first appointment and may decide not to seek additional treatment.  

Of note, groups and case management appointments do not require a Brief Assessment. Students are encouraged to visit our groups page to peruse our current offerings and reach out to group facilitators directly. Students can self-schedule case management appointments by calling Counseling Services at 610-526-7360 or sign up for an available slot using the patient portal.  

Clinical case management is offered to students who want help connecting with off-campus resources. Appointments usually last 25 minutes. Our counselors assist students in determining their preferences for ongoing care and support students in connecting to the necessary resources whether that’s off campus therapy, psychoeducational or neuropsychological testing, psychiatry, or another service. Like groups and workshops, case management appointments are offered to all students free of charge. Case management appointments can be scheduled by calling Counseling Services (610-526-7360) or using the Patient Portal on the Health & Wellness Center website.  

Every currently enrolled Bryn Mawr student, including graduate and post-bac students, is entitled to an initial brief-assessment appointment with Counseling Services free of charge. Students recommended for on-campus therapy will receive an additional nine appointments free. Groups, workshops, and case management appointments are also offered to all students without cost. No student is ever denied needed care due to financial hardship. Students concerned about the cost of therapy are encouraged to bring their concerns directly to their counselor.  Our counselors will work with you to determine a solution that fits your situation, whether you are recommended for ongoing therapy with Counseling Services or off-campus provider(s).  

While the initial Brief Assessment appointment is aimed at learning more information about a student and determining optimal care, it is not yet the beginning of treatment. Students recommended for ongoing therapy at Counseling Services will be scheduled for a counseling intake. The intake appointment is lengthier, usually lasting 45 to 50 minutes and is an opportunity for the student to share more about their reasons for seeking therapy, their history, relationships, stressors, strengths, and to determine, in collaboration with their counselor, the focus of therapy. Intake appointments are great opportunities for students to ask questions about the therapy process and set goals with their therapist. Therapy is collaborative and student input is crucial to setting a course for the work.  

Since our counselors sometimes hold multiple roles on campus, it is possible that you may see your individual counselor outside the Counseling Services office. In order to maintain students’ privacy, counselors will refrain from acknowledging students unless the student acknowledges the counselor first. If you feel comfortable saying hello to your counselor, feel free to do so! But our counselors will not be offended if you say nothing at all. And of course, we encourage you to discuss any feelings you may have about seeing a counselor outside the office in your next appointment with that counselor. Some people have unexpected feelings when they encounter their individual counselor outside of their usual therapy setting. 

In some cases, your individual counselor may also be facilitating a group or workshop. Your counselor is still bound by confidentiality in the group setting; they will not share that you are meeting with them individually or any details of your individual sessions. If you have any concerns about attending a group facilitated by your counselor, it is a good idea to bring these up in your individual therapy. Our counselors welcome such feedback and will help you to come up with an appropriate plan. 

Research shows that the therapeutic relationship is essential to having successful and satisfying outcomes in therapy. We encourage students to bring concerns about the therapy process directly to their counselor whenever possible. Our therapists understand the importance of the relationship and will listen attentively to your feedback. Working through issues with your therapist can be empowering and can lead to greater understanding and transparency between you and your counselor. This not only moves the therapeutic process forward, but is also growth-inducing in and of itself! If, however, you feel repair is impossible, please reach out to either the Director or Associate Director of Counseling Services. They will assist you in finding another therapist as promptly as possible, either on or off campus. 

This is a great question to bring up to your counselor directly. Sometimes it is reasonable to imagine that the work can happen within a limited number of sessions (average number of sessions is six). However, other factors may indicate that the issue warrants a service beyond Counseling Service’s ability such as a need/want for longer term therapy, a desire for a specific type of therapy not offered in Counseling Services, or a need/want to see a therapist more frequently than your counselor is available. In that case, the counselor will assist the student in locating and connecting with an appropriate off-campus provider. 

Our counselors receive ongoing training to work effectively with students of many identities, backgrounds, and life experiences. We know that the relationship one has with their counselor is of paramount importance in the work of healing and we do our best to make sure that students feel comfortable with their counselors.  

Where availability allows, we will attempt to gratify students’ request for a counselor with a specific identity, but we may not be able to in all circumstances. Consider visiting the Counseling Services resources page for information on identity-specific off-campus resources. Counseling Services is happy to offer case management support to those seeking an off-campus provider of an identity that is not currently available on campus. 

While psychiatric medication can be an invaluable tool for some, it is not the recommended treatment in all cases. Counseling services cannot guarantee that all interested students will receive medication. We encourage students interested in discussing medication to schedule a Brief Assessment appointment either by calling Counseling Services or using the online Patient Portal. In this appointment, students can share their interest in medication with a counselor and determine appropriate next steps. Depending on the individual situation and the availability of our staff psychiatrists, students may be placed on a Bryn Mawr psychiatrist’s schedule for a medication evaluation or referred to an off-campus provider. Our psychiatrists will determine based on this evaluation whether a student will benefit most from medication or from another method of support. Counseling Services also offers case management appointments to support students in connecting to off-campus psychiatry.  

Students interested in medication for ADHD should plan to obtain psychoeducational testing prior to meeting with a psychiatrist, as documentation of a diagnosis of ADHD/ADD based on appropriate testing is required. While we do not provide this testing on campus, Counseling Services will support students in connecting to off-campus providers for psychoeducational testing.

Groups generally run for multiple sessions and put greater emphasis on sharing personal experiences. In many cases, groups consist of the same members over multiple sessions. These are known as closed groups. Counseling Services also offers open groups, in which members may change from meeting to meeting. Usually, the group decides in its first or second session whether to remain open to new members or to close to new membership for the semester. Groups may be offered on a specific topic, a shared identity, or a common goal (for example, connection). Just as in individual therapy, what’s shared in groups stays confidential.  

Workshops are usually shorter-term with just one or two meetings per semester. They typically focus on sharing information about a specific topic and teaching new skills. Workshops are more didactic in nature and, while they may involve personal sharing, less emphasis is placed on attendees’ present-moment feelings and the relationships between participants. Personal content shared in workshops is also kept confidential, but attendees are welcome to share information they learned about the topic outside the workshop. A helpful guideline is “lessons leave, stories stay.” 

Groups and workshops are offered to all currently enrolled students free of charge. Students interested in joining groups or workshops can browse our group offerings page and reach out to the group facilitator for more information on how to register. In some cases, this may involve a brief conversation with the facilitator to determine whether the group is a good fit for the student’s needs.  

Counseling Services does not provide assessments for support or service animals. We are happy to support students in finding an off-campus provider with whom to discuss their wish for an emotional support animal and pursue documentation for an accommodation.  

It is natural to wish for an immediate solution to one’s problems, especially when they cause emotional suffering. Counseling Services therapists are invested in helping individuals to understand and relieve their mental pain and we know that students are experts in their own experiences. As a result, we rarely give direct advice to students. Instead, we focus on supporting students to find individual solutions based on their experience, wisdom, and knowledge of their unique circumstances.  

Like all information discussed in counseling, concerns related to the use of substances are confidential. Our counselors use a harm reduction approach when thinking about substance use. This means that we do not stigmatize or shame relationships with substances but approach the topic with respectful curiosity. We partner with students to develop a plan that minimizes risk and the potential for harm. While we understand that this is sometimes an uncomfortable topic, we encourage students to bring any questions or concerns they have to therapy.  

Why See a Counselor?

Counseling isn't only for mental health conditions. Common concerns of students who visit the Health and Wellness Center for counseling include:

  • Procrastination and study skills
  • Body image 
  • Self-esteem
  • Loneliness/disconnection
  • Disillusionment
  • Anxiety and/or depression
  • Intimate relationships, including abuse
  • Trouble with interpersonal relationships or roommate issues
  • Family issues
  • Eating concerns
  • Anger
  • Sexual orientation
  • Gender identity
  • Cultural or ethnic concerns
  • Substance use concerns