Frequently Asked Questions
Below are the answers to the most frequently asked questions about the Counseling and Wellness Center at Western Washington University. To read an answer, click the question to expand the answer. If you still have questions, please reach out and call us at (360) 650-3164.
Many people come seeking support about relationship problems, stress, low self-esteem, anxiety, depression, body image issues, cultural and identity issues, or eating disorders. Some students seek counseling in response to a traumatic event in their lives, such as the death of a loved one, sexual assault, and interpersonal violence. Still other students may use our services for academic issues such as time management, low motivation, or test and/or performance anxiety. The best way to find out whether counseling is a good option for you is to schedule an assessment at the Counseling and Wellness Center.
The services of the Counseling and Wellness Center are provided at no additional cost beyond the Health Services Fee.
Students are eligible for ongoing individual or group therapy through Western's Counseling and Wellness Center during the main academic year if they meet ALL of the following criteria:
- Enrolled in 6 or more credits for the current quarter
- Paid the Health Services Fee for the current quarter
- Located in WA state
If not taking classes over the summer, students may access summer services if they meet ALL of the following criteria:
- Enrolled at Western for the previous spring quarter
- Enrolled for the upcoming fall quarter
- Paid the Health Services Fee for the summer quarter
- Located in WA state
Please note that general eligibility for therapy services does not guarantee that a student will receive a specific requested therapy service, as clinical recommendations are made with the clinician’s professional judgment.
To schedule your initial consultation, call the Counseling and Wellness Center between 8:30 AM and 4:30 PM, Monday through Friday. The receptionist will schedule a phone consultation with one of our counselors. The initial phone consultation usually takes 30 to 45 minutes.
During your session, your therapist will ask you some standardized screening questions and discuss your concerns to try to understand your situation. Your therapist will provide support and may suggest possible next steps for care, such as self-guided apps, peer and community supports, workshops, group therapy, brief individual mental health sessions, or off-campus referrals. Recommendations are tailored to your individual needs and resources.
During brief counseling appointments at the Counseling and Wellness Center, your therapist will invite you to talk about your concerns and your strengths. Therapists at the Counseling and Wellness Center work from a variety of orientations and modalities, and you are welcome to ask questions of them as you begin your work together.
Your role as a client is to join your counselor in identifying the most central, specific problem or problems you wish to resolve, and then actively engage in the process of working on them. Our goal is to see these problems resolved or brought under control so that you can move forward in your life.
Many factors affect what level of service a student receives through the Counseling and Wellness Center, including the urgency of your situation, your specific concerns, and the availability of counselors and other resources. The Counseling and Wellness Center provides brief-therapy, which is often comprised of a few sessions. We are not able to provide long-term, individual psychotherapy.
Many issues can be addressed through counseling workshops and groups. For students desiring longer-term individual counseling, a different counseling approach, or a specialization not available at the Counseling and Wellness Center, we can assist with appropriate referrals in the community.
Students have unlimited use of psychoeducational classes, workshops, and counseling groups offered by the Counseling and Wellness Center. While students may express some initial hesitancy about attending, group counseling can offer exceptional opportunities for support and exploration.
If you have to miss your appointment, it is very important for you to call to cancel it 24 hours in advance. If you cancel within less than 24 hours, it is less likely that another person in need of our services can use that appointment. However, we understand that if you are ill, advance cancelations are not always possible.
Counseling is voluntary and you have the right to refuse counseling or to leave at any time. You may ask to change counselors at any time. Your counselor will be happy to discuss their theoretical or therapeutic orientation and the proposed treatment within our brief counseling model, including any risks, requirements, or expectations that might exist. You have the right to receive nondiscriminatory care. You have the right to confidentiality.
We keep a record of the services we provide you. You may ask to see and receive a copy of that record. You also may ask us to correct that record if you find it to be in error. We will not disclose your record to others unless you direct us to do so, or unless the law authorizes or compels us to do so (see below). You may see your record or get more information about it by asking your counselor or the Director of the Counseling and Wellness Center.
We are accountable for our work with you. If you have concerns about your counselor or the course of counseling, we encourage you to discuss them first with your counselor. You also may talk about them with the Director of the Counseling and Wellness Center, the Associate Vice President, or Vice President of Enrollment and Student Services. You may contact the licensing board of the state, the Department of Health, or the ethics boards of any of a variety of professional organizations such as the American Psychological Association or the American Counseling Association.
The Counseling and Wellness Center has a strong commitment to each client's right of confidentiality. Strict confidentiality is maintained except under certain very specific circumstances. Information may be shared between counselors on the staff or with other health care providers within Counseling, Health and Wellness Services and with the campus dietitian when needed to provide the best coordinated care.
A legal obligation to release information about you or your counseling occurs when your counselor believes that you are at serious risk of harming yourself or someone else, when a counselor has reason to believe that abuse or neglect of a child or dependent adult may be occurring, or when a court of law compels a release of information by subpoena. Otherwise, information can be released only if you sign a form which authorizes a release and specifies what information is to be released.
Students with academic accommodation needs must initiate a request for services through disAbility Access Center. Students with disabilities are required, by law, to provide written documentation of their disability (from a qualified professional) before services can be provided. While “test anxiety” is not something for which an accommodation can be given, we encourage students who experience test and/or performance anxiety to seek help through the Counseling and Wellness Center. Through workshops, self-help materials, and possibly a session with a counselor, students can develop strategies and skills for keeping themselves calm and clear-thinking in these potentially stressful situations.
The Counseling and Wellness Center does not currently have a psychiatrist on staff, and we do not prescribe or manage medication. Students interested in medication can make an appointment at the Student Health Center.
We have a number of permanent staff who are licensed clinical psychologists or licensed mental health counselors. Alternatively, you might be scheduled to meet with a doctoral intern. Our interns are carefully selected for our training program and are in the final stages of obtaining their Ph.D. or Psy.D. in psychology.
If brief individual therapy is appropriate for you, you might work with that assessing therapist, or you may request a counselor with particular interests or areas of expertise. Those requests are accommodated when possible based on availability and demand.
The Counseling and Wellness Center contracts with a service that provides after-hours support to students. To reach a counselor outside of business hours, on weekends, or on holidays, please call the Counseling and Wellness Center main phone number, (360) 650-3164, and press or say 1 to be connected with a therapist.
If you are in a life-threatening emergency, call 911.
See Crisis Services.
The Counseling and Wellness Center is able to offer couples counseling to students when both parties are currently enrolled students. If you are interested in couples counseling, you and your partner must both call the Counseling and Wellness Center to schedule individual assessments. Make sure to let your assessing therapist know that you are interested in couples counseling.
Many factors affect what level of service a student receives through the Counseling and Wellness Center, including the urgency of your situation, your specific concerns, and the availability of counselors and other resources. It is our goal to provide quality services in a timely manner to all students who present at the Counseling and Wellness Center. Depending on your situation, your counselor may determine that longer-term, off-campus counseling or evaluation is most appropriate and will assist you with connecting to an off-campus provider.
We are permitted to provide services only to students who are currently enrolled at WWU. However, we are able to provide consultation and referral to recently-enrolled students who are looking for off-campus services.
If you are considering withdrawing from one or more classes, it may be helpful to talk with a counselor, the Academic Advising & Student Achievement Center and Financial Aid Department about your decision. If you have never been seen at the Counseling and Wellness Center or attended only an initial assessment appointment, we may be unable to provide you with documentation regarding hardship withdrawal or verification of visit.
While Counseling and Wellness Center staff are able to provide consultation to faculty/staff around supporting students, faculty and staff are not eligible for counseling services at the Counseling and Wellness Center. The Washington State Employee Assistance Program is available for faculty and staff. Please contact Human Resources for further information.
Doctoral interns are in their final year of training and have had several years of experience providing therapy. Our interns are highly skilled and capable of treating a wide range of presenting concerns. Because interns are not licensed, they work under the license of a senior staff psychologist who reviews their notes and some of their sessions. This is common practice in the mental health field as trainees progress towards working independently.
Yes, the Counseling and Wellness Center provides evaluations for ADHD. To learn more about this process, please schedule a drop-in phone consultation.
We do not offer evaluations for autism or learning disabilities at this time. Please visit our community referrals page for assistance with obtaining off-campus evaluation and treatment for these diagnoses.