The Counseling Center

Interior room with a couch and lounge chairs
Interior room of the Counseling Center, a suite inside of Dascomb Hall.
Photo credit: Yvonne Gay

The Counseling Center is primarily intended for assessment and short-term counseling, with referrals to private counselors in the Oberlin area if necessary. The center itself is funded through tuition. Services are free, although students are responsible for the cost of any external services. The number of sessions needed is discussed as part of the initial intake process.

We offer a hybrid model that allows the student to determine if they would like to meet in person or virtually.

We offer the following services:

If individual counseling at the center is the service that is most appropriate for you, you will ordinarily continue working with the staff member you met with initially. This is an opportunity to be heard, to receive support and to clarify the challenges you are experiencing. While this is short-term focused psychotherapy, many problems presented can be addressed. Referrals are also available for ongoing support.

The initial appointment (also known as an intake assessment) is intended to gather information on each individual's unique history and circumstances. This allows us to collaboratively determine the goals and focus of therapy. In this 50 minute appointment, we will identify the appropriate level of care to meet a student's needs. This may include continuing with your intake therapist for short-term counseling or referrals to psychiatric services, long-term therapy, specialized care, or a higher level of care, as appropriate. 

Our same-day crisis services are designed to assist students who are confronting life-threatening circumstances, current or recent traumatic crises, and/or serious emotional distress. During a same-day crisis assessment, a counselor will briefly meet with you to discuss your situation and work with you to stabilize the situation. 

Examples of crisis issues include:

  • Suicidal thoughts
  • Thoughts about harming another person
  • Recent assault or abuse
  • Concern about your own safety or the safety of another
  • Strange experiences, such as hearing voices or seeing things that no one else hears or sees
  • Coping with serious illness, death, or dying
  • Witnessing or experiencing a traumatic event

The above are just some examples. There may be other situations that you may experience as placing you in a crisis.

By seeking crisis services, you understand that a crisis is a situation in which not being seen immediately could lead to serious consequences or seriously aggravate a person’s health or well-being.  Seeking these services indicates that you believe that your situation is a crisis that cannot wait for a scheduled appointment.

During the academic year our crisis hours are Monday and Tuesday, 11 am - 12 noon, and Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday, 1 pm - 2 pm.   No appointments are needed, just check-in at the window.

Oberlin College has contracted with University Hospitals of Cleveland to provide psychiatric services for Oberlin students. Alex Wang, MD and Matthew Newton, DO are board certified psychiatrists with a strong interest in working with the college-age population and hold office hours in the Counseling Center part time during the academic year.

At Oberlin, the psychiatrists work in conjunction with staff psychologists in the Counseling Center and to provide a holistic approach to treatment. It is our goal to provide quality mental health care and services by assessing each student’s individual needs and determining the best way to meet those needs.

What to expect from a visit to the psychiatrist

A visit to the psychiatrist is often focused upon considering the role of medication in treating the problem presented. An initial visit usually takes 40 to 45 minutes. If you have been referred, the psychiatrist will often have received preliminary information from your referral source, including visits with a psychologist at the Counseling Center. 

Typically, follow-up visits with the psychiatrist are brief (10-15 minutes), and focused on an evaluation of the effectiveness of medications prescribed to treat your condition.

This service provides brief, drop-in consultations from 1:30 pm -2:30 pm on Tuesday on a first-come, first-served basis.  These will be held virtually until the end of the semester.  Please go to this link:

Let’s Talk is an informal consultation service only for those who are currently enrolled in classes. Let’s Talk is not counseling. Let’s Talk consultations are different from traditional counseling services. Let’s Talk consultations are brief, free, no paperwork is required,  no appointments are necessary, you can just drop in. They used to be virtual but now are being held at the Counseling Center.

Although Let’s Talk counselors are mental health professionals, Let’s Talk consultations do not replace psychotherapy. Let’s Talk consultations do not constitute mental health treatment.

We will make every effort to ensure that Let’s Talk conversations are confidential. Any questions related to confidentiality should be addressed with your Let’s Talk consultant before you begin personal disclosure. You should be aware that there are some limits to confidentiality. If there is an emergency, your Let’s Talk consultant may need to share information with others. When there is an immediate threat of harm to you or others, Let’s Talk counselors are required by law to report this. When a minor, elderly person, or someone otherwise incapacitated is being abused, Let’s Talk counselors are also required by law to report this.


For many issues and problems, groups can be extremely helpful.  In groups, students have the advantage of speaking with others who have similar concerns and experiences; significantly lessening the feelings of isolation often accompanying the problem.

Group members make a commitment to keep everything in the group confidential. 

Some groups are structured like classes or workshops while others are more "process oriented".  It is always important to remember that the benefits of group reflect an individual’s investment in it.

While group members are not pressured to participate beyond their comfort levels, the group will encourage its members to be as active as they feel ready to be.

Workshops are skills-focused groups that create a space for students to develop coping resources, build a more effective relationship with emotions, foster healthy relationship skills, and receive validation and support in processing past and current experiences.

For more information about the types of groups the center offers, as well as a description of specific groups offered each semester, see the program description.

Sometimes couples experience short-term or ongoing problems that are challenging to overcome on their own. While individual therapy can be a good way to address individual concerns and underlying issues, couples counseling looks at what's going on in "the system."

It is often more effective for the couple to meet with a therapist together, so that the therapist can get a sense of what the dynamics are between the partners, to hear something about the background and concerns of each person, and to better understand what the goals are for each person and the couple as a unit.

The therapist can often help partners communicate with each other, and help clarify or expand upon what may have been difficult to convey (which might be adding to the couple's difficulties). Many couples experience considerable relief at getting the support and feedback counseling can provide.

Couples counseling can be thought of, too, as a place to do some assessment of the system, a place to begin to see more clearly what is the cause of distressing symptoms and problems.

The Counseling Center can provide educational programs to support student development and enhance skills in living. We offer workshops, lectures, and discussion groups on a variety of topics, some of which include:

  • stress management
  • assertiveness training
  • eating disorders
  • exploring cultural or racial identity
  • conflict resolution
  • gender identity
  • sexual orientation
  • test anxiety
  • procrastination 
  • perfectionism

 To request an educational program, call us at (440) 775-8470.

While maintaining confidentiality, the Counseling Center staff is available to consult with faculty, professional staff, and administrators about issues with direct or indirect impact on student development and well-being.
Referral Guide

Students can seek consultation if they are concerned about their own well-being or the well-being of another student, such as a roommate or a friend.

We provide counseling and support for students concerned about alcohol and drug use. This is a good place to start when looking for direction or help. Students in need of a court-ordered assessment or treatment for dependency will be referred to alcohol and drug services certified by the state, located in Elyria, or to an agency near a student’s hometown.

See Community Resources page for additional resources.

The Oberlin College Counseling Center Statement on Diversity and Inclusion 

The values of diversity, inclusion, and equity are at the core of our profession and the services we provide at the Counseling Center. As a center we respect, support, and embrace differences in identity. The Counseling Center is dedicated to making our care accessible to all students and our staff is committed to creating a safe, inclusive, and affirming environment that embraces the richness brought by the intersections of gender identity and expression, race, ethnicity, culture, sexual and or affectional orientation, age, physical and mental abilities, religious and spiritual orientation, socioeconomic status, immigration status, as well as a host of other personal and social characteristics that comprise individual identity.

These values structure our services and our commitment to fostering a healthy campus community that supports individual well-being and academic success.

Related Facilities