What is the Counseling Center?
The Counseling Center’s primary purpose is to provide psychological support to students as they pursue their academic and personal goals, and to enhance the quality of their experience at Oberlin College. One of the services provided to students is short-term counseling and psychotherapy. Counseling is an educational process in which one can gain new perspectives of themselves and others and acquire skills that enable them to function more effectively. At the counseling center, one may discuss and explore freely, in confidence, any problems, feelings, or fears that are important to them. The ultimate goal is to help students grow in self-understanding so that they can better cope with their immediate situation and with future decisions.
Who will know if I go to the Counseling Center? Confidentiality?
The Counseling Center staff has a strong commitment to maintaining the confidentiality of the information students share, and Ohio law requires it. The law states that counseling information must remain confidential unless the client indicates in writing that they wish the information to be communicated to specific persons outside the center. The only exceptions are that psychologists are required to report child, elder, and disabled persons abuse and to make appropriate notifications when there is an imminent risk to life or safety. Information on a student attending a session will not be given out to someone who has not been given permission to receive that information. Counseling Center records do not become a part of your college record, as clarified by the Buckley amendment.
How do I make an appointment? Best way to reach the center?
Call our office, 440-775-8470, or stop by during business hours. The office is a short walk on campus in Dascomb Hall, Suite B. We discourage the use of email communications particularly in an emergency or to schedule an appointment. Email is not a secure means of communication, nor is it an appropriate or reliable way to address your student concerns. The most effective way to receive prompt attention is to call the office during business hours. When the Counseling Center is closed, the after-hours support line is available by calling 855-256-7160. Additional resources include the Lorain County Mental Health Hotline, available for emergency assistance or consultation 24/7 at 1-800-888-6161.
How much do services cost? Is there student health insurance?
There are no charges for visits to the Counseling Center. Students may use the center for assessment and short-term, issues-oriented counseling. In the event that longer term therapy is indicated, you may be referred to a private practitioner in the community to better serve your needs. Oberlin College offers a Sickness and Accident Insurance Plan as a supplement to your individual or family policy, or for students who are uninsured or underinsured. We strongly encourage participation in this insurance plan, even though the student may be included on your family’s plan. Insurance companies vary with respect to out-of-state coverage and eligibility of out-of-state providers. All undergraduate students are automatically included in this plan and will have an annual charge included on the first semester term bill, unless a signed waiver is returned to the Student Accounts Office declining this coverage. The plan provides protection against the expense of sickness and accident, both at Oberlin and off campus. The benefit provides up to $1,500 maximum coverage, paying 80 percent of preferred allowance for in network providers, and 60 percent of usual and customary charges for out-of-network providers. Additional information may be obtained by contacting Academic Health Plans,1-888-308-7320.
How many sessions do I get?
The Counseling Center does not have a set number of sessions per person. Due to high demand, we are mainly a short-term facility. If there is a situation that requires long-term therapy or maintenance, we have colleagues in the community who could better accommodate those issues and we can help you connect with them.
Who makes up the Counseling Center Staff?
The Counseling Center employs a diverse group of practitioners with various backgrounds and clinical experience. The current staff is comprised of five psychologists licensed by the state of Ohio, one licensed social worker, one postdoctoral-level resident, two doctoral-level practicum students, two part-time, board-certified psychiatrists, two part-time psychiatric residents, and an office manager.
What if I don’t like my therapist?
Psychotherapy is very much based on the relationship the client has with their therapist. If you do not feel comfortable with your therapist or have another problem with the therapist, you are able to switch psychologists within the center. If there continues to be a problem, you will be encouraged to talk to the director to better assess your needs and to find the right person for your specific issues.
What are the Counseling Center offices like?
The atmosphere in our waiting room is welcoming and friendly. We offer refreshments, as well as books, magazines, and a number of intriguing manual and electronic puzzles to student visitors. We pride ourselves in having warm, inviting offices that are bright, private, and comfortable. Each office reflects the personal style of the provider.
What is your availability to students?
Depending on the time of year, students are generally seen within a week of calling for an initial appointment. During peak usage times, such as in November and April, students may have to wait a little longer. Our staff is aware that situations requiring immediate attention do exist. Because of the demand on our services, we are not usually able to meet with most students on the same day. We do offer same-day crisis services that are designed to assist students who are confronting life-threatening circumstances, current or recent traumatic crises, and or serious emotional distress. A counselor will work with the student to contain and stabilize the situation, and schedule a follow-up appointment as needed. Requests for specific psychologists may result in a small wait time if that person’s schedule is full.
What kind of issues do students bring to the Counseling Center?
Students come to the counseling center for many reasons. Many have concerns related to common developmental issues that arise during the college years; including adjustment to college, dependence, independence, autonomy, making friends, dating, identity, career, and changing values. A student may find it helpful to discuss these issues with a psychologist. At times students have more significant problems coping and may be struggling with depression, anxiety, difficulties with eating or sleeping, eating disordered behavior, substance abuse or addiction, and serious problems with school work. Our staff can meet with students to come to a mutual understanding of counseling needs in these situations, some of which may warrant long-term counseling and consultation about psychiatric services. Counseling Center staff also provides assessment and referral services for more serious psychological problems.
Does the Counseling Center offer psychiatric services?
Oberlin College has contracted with University Hospitals of Cleveland to provide psychiatric services for Oberlin students. Michelle Romero, DO, and Matthew Newton, DO, are board certified psychiatrists and hold office hours in the counseling center part time during the academic year. At Oberlin, the psychiatrist works in conjunction with staff psychologists in the Counseling Center and Student Health Services medical staff 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. Students expressing a desire to meet with the psychiatrist will initially be scheduled to consult with a professional staff member in the counseling center for an assessment, regardless of past or current treatment. Please schedule an appointment with one of the counseling center staff psychologists to discuss your interest in meeting with the psychiatrist. After meeting, they may recommend that you receive counseling concurrently (if you’re not already). In order to continue to work with our psychiatrists, you will need to follow their recommendation. Concurrent psychotherapy may be provided by a counseling center psychologist, psychology trainee, or by a local provider.
Does the Counseling Center psychiatrist prescribe medication for the treatment of ADHD?
The Oberlin College Counseling Center psychiatrist will only prescribe stimulant medication for ADHD to students who have had a full psychological assessment and received a diagnosis of ADHD by a qualified provider within the previous three years. The assessment process and documentation requirement is described in the section on ADHD under "Specific Issues".
Is the Counseling Center staff available to speak with parents?
The center welcomes parents’ calls. Our staff understands that parents may have concerns, and wish to communicate information or consult with us about their concerns. In the event that a parent wishes to speak to their student’s therapist, a signed release of information must be obtained from the student. The center has a strong commitment to maintaining confidentiality, in fact, Ohio law requires it. The only exceptions are that psychologists are required to report current child, elder, or disabled person’s abuse and to make appropriate notifications when there is an imminent risk to a person’s life or safety. In the absence of a release of information, parents are directed to speak with another therapist in the center. Parents are always free to convey information to us, inquire about counseling and psychological services at Oberlin, and consult with us about any other issues related to their student’s care and well-being. However, if a release is not signed, no information or even confirmation of the student’s participation in the center’s services can be confirmed.
Do you offer consultation services?
We offer consultation for faculty, staff, and students. If you are concerned about a student and unsure about how to handle the situation, give us a call and set up either an in-person or a phone consultation. Let the office manager know what you prefer. Expect a response the same day you call.
Does the Counseling Center provide documentation for Emotional Support Animals?
The following are reasons that the Counseling Center at Oberlin College does not write letters of evaluation for students requesting ESAs. Writing letters of evaluation for ESAs exceeds the scope of our services. In order for a person to qualify for an ESA, they must have a DSM diagnosis and must be significantly impaired by their mental health disorder to the degree that it substantially limits one or more major life activities (caring for one’s self, performing manual tasks, walking, talking, seeing, hearing, speaking, breathing, learning, and working). It must also be determined that, due to the disability, the person cannot function adequately without the presence of an ESA (not just benefit from it). Little data exists proving that ESAs are effective in decreasing the effects of mental health disorders and related problems. As therapists who advocate for our clients, writing these letters could be a conflict of interest. Evaluating the need for an ESA requires that the assessor be neutral and objective to determine if the person has a disability that would justify special accommodations. When conducting an evaluation for an ESA, the treating therapist may have to rely on what the client presents as truth, which may overstate their need and compromise the accuracy of the evaluation. In addition, the relationship between the therapist and client could be negatively impacted if the therapist does not recommend that their client have an ESA. This type of evaluation could be most effectively performed by a neutral third-party clinician who is not directly involved in the treatment of the client. APA Monitor (Sept. 2016, 47, 8:38) Professional Psychology Research and Practice (2016, 47, 4:255-260)