Psychological Counseling Center

FAQ - Frequently Asked Questions

How can counseling help me?

Every year the PCC helps about 700 students with a wide variety of concerns related to mental health, relationships, identity, difficult changes, and challenging life circumstances. Though students may initially feel nervous about sharing their struggles with a counselor, talking to a therapist can have great benefits. Therapy can help people learn to manage stress, build self-esteem, improve communication skills, gain insight, make changes to self-defeating habits, and find more clarity on thoughts, beliefs, and emotional experiences.

Therapy isn’t just about focusing on the problems, and coming to therapy doesn’t mean that something is wrong with you! All of our therapists work from a strengths-based perspective, so we also focus on recognizing what has worked for you in the past, who your supports are, and which skills you might already have that you can build on or implement differently. We provide a supportive, non-judgmental space, while also offering encouragement towards growth and change.

For some people, talking to friends, family, religious/spiritual supports, or mentors is enough. But if you find yourself feeling stuck, repeating negative cycles, avoiding reaching out to your supports (or worrying that you reach out too much), or feel that these issues are affecting your ability to take care of yourself and your responsibilities – counseling can help.

Whether it’s through individual sessions, group treatment, or referral to a provider that’s the best fit, the PCC can help you take the next step in your mental health journey.


Why does the PCC only offer up to 8 individual sessions per academic year?

The Psychological Counseling Center follows a brief therapy model, also known as a time-limited model, which is commonly used in college counseling centers across the country. According to reports from the Association for University and College Counseling Center Directors (AUCCCD), the PCC’s session limit is in line with other colleges of a similar size, and using this model gives us the capacity to provide a robust range of services, including crisis intervention and outreach programming.

Brief therapy is often the most developmentally appropriate approach to therapy for typical college-aged students, who frequently struggle with issues relating to emerging adulthood and identity development. For many students, circumstances change quickly between semesters and on breaks, and engaging in focused, solution-oriented treatment can help build the skills necessary to manage the inevitable ups and downs. We have found that on average, students utilize 5-6 counseling sessions per academic year.

However, we also maintain an awareness that a growing number of college students report experiencing significant mental health challenges, which may warrant more in-depth support. If a student wants or needs longer-term services, we can work closely with them to identify and contact off-campus providers who may be a better clinical match. The PCC understands the importance of accessible mental health care, and we make every effort to support students through the referral process until they are able to secure the services they need.


Do you do assessments for ADHD, learning disabilities, and/or Autism?

The PCC does not provide assessment or accommodations evaluations for learning disorders, ADHD, autism, or other similar diagnoses. Our clinicians are primarily generalists with varying sub-specialties, who draw from a wide range of evidence-informed practices to help our diverse undergraduate and graduate populations with many different concerns. Thus the PCC can provide time-limited therapy to help students learn about common symptoms of these diagnoses, explore how any identified symptoms may impact their identity and self-esteem, and build executive functioning, emotional management, and other skills.

If you are searching specifically for a diagnosis, assessment, or accommodation letter, a PCC clinician may be able to work closely with you to help you connect to appropriate off-campus services. Please contact us to discuss a referral.


Can I have a counselor at the PCC write a letter for my emotional support animal/housing accommodations/academic accommodations/etc?

The PCC does not provide evaluations or documentation for emotional support animals, academic accommodations, or resident hall/room request living accommodations. However, a clinician can work with students to help them connect to appropriate off-campus resources who may be able to provide these services. Please contact us to discuss a referral.


I’m concerned about my friend’s mental health - how do I talk to them about it?

If you are concerned about a friend and need help figuring out how to address it, you can always discuss your thoughts with your Resident Advisor (RA) or Resident Director (RD), contact OASIS/HAVEN to speak with a peer crisis volunteer, or speak with a mental health professional at the PCC first. 

PCC staff regularly consults with students who are worried about their friends. Students contact us about friends who have expressed thoughts or exhibited behaviors that may indicate a risk for suicide or homicide, alcohol or other substance abuse, disordered eating behavior, uncontrollably angry behavior, or notably sad, anxious, or depressed behavior – including not attending classes or not participating in activities with friends.

If you decide to talk with your friend directly, it’s best to be honest, caring, and supportive. Describe clearly, concretely, and specifically what it is about their behavior that concerns you. It’s more important that you show that you care, and less important that you find the exact right words to say, but writing out your thoughts ahead of time can help. Seize the Awkward also has great tips on how to start these conversations.

Don’t feel as though you need to be the one to solve their issues, but let them know that they are not alone, and that help is available. Encourage them to talk with a PCC counselor, family, or an off campus therapist if they have one. You can even offer to walk with your friend to the PCC or call together to make an appointment – a good number of our students are referred by friends or partners.

Many students are afraid that their friends will be upset if they bring up difficult topics like mental health struggles. Even if there is conflict that arises out of the conversation, it’s always better to have expressed your concern, and that difficult talk may plant the seed that will help your friend follow through eventually.

The majority of the time, a student who is having difficulty will appreciate knowing that their friends see them and care, and will feel relieved to talk with someone about their personal struggles.


How do I tell a student I am concerned about them? (For Faculty & Staff)

Faculty and staff at SUNY New Paltz are involved in students' lives through a number of important roles that may include being an educator, advisor, coach, mentor, and counselor. Faculty and staff are in a unique position to directly observe students on a regular basis, and may notice emotional, social, or behavioral troubles or concerns. Please contact PCC promptly if you have concerns about a student.

Marked changes in a student's usual behavior, such as frequent tardiness and absences, problems with academic performance, or repeated requests for extensions on assignments, may indicate the student is struggling with something and needs help. A student's writing about suicide or homicide, isolation, feeling like a burden, or feeling hopeless, also may be a call for help. A noticeable change in appearance or hygiene also may indicate a student is struggling.

If you are concerned about a student, please share your concerns with PCC staff, or with the student directly. If you choose to speak to the student, set up an appointment for a private conversation as best you can. Be specific and concrete about what you have observed that concerns you, while also being caring, honest, and non-judgmental. Suggest the student speak to PCC staff. If the student agrees, offer to facilitate the contact with PCC, because often a student in crisis feels unable to manage what typically may be a simple task. See our Crisis Intervention page for information about hours and crisis availability.

PCC staff value faculty and staff consultations about students of concern. Faculty/staff intervention in assisting a student to seek psychological services may be significant to a student's ability to successfully complete a college degree. There have been occasions when faculty/staff have referred a student to the PCC and wanted a follow-up contact from the PCC counselor to confirm that the student came for an appointment. Counselors are bound by legal and ethical guidelines to maintain confidentiality, but will engage referred students in a conversation regarding consent to release information if needed. Thus, faculty and staff should be aware that the PCC counselors may not be able to discuss whether a student is coming for services depending on the student’s willingness to share information. Please know that our staff are grateful for the consultation and referral, regardless of whether we are able to inform you of any outcomes.

Read more about Confidentiality.