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Friday, January 15, 2021
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During these stressful times, you might be considering starting counseling or getting other types of support. The UF Counseling and Wellness Center (CWC) is here to help. Read on to learn what UF students can expect when you contact us.

Call us during business hours at 352-392-1575 to schedule a brief initial consultation. We usually have same or next-day availability for these appointments. We’ll also ask you to complete online forms about your mental health, and we’ll review this information before meeting with you.

During a brief initial consultation, a counselor on our Consultation and Referral Team will discuss the information you provided and ask additional questions about your needs and therapy goals. We then talk with you about the CWC services most appropriate for you, as well as any others through our campus partners and off-campus mental health providers that could be helpful.

We want you to leave your brief consultation with a plan that works for you. A common outcome is that we place you in a CWC service — either group therapy or short-term one-one-one counseling. Sometimes, students don’t need therapy but could benefit from our skill-building workshops, self-help resources like the CWC Talks podcast, or another UF support like GatorWell, the Dean of Students Office, the Disability Resource Center or psychiatry services. And for some students, the best resource is specialized and long-term support in the community.

For students who can benefit from CWC counseling services, our therapy groups meet for 1.5 hours every week, every semester and are a great option for concerns such as anxiety, depression, loneliness, stress, identity and relationships. While group therapy can be intimidating at first, research suggests it is as or more effective than one-on-one counseling for most issues. Group therapy can even be a long-term counseling resource. You can participate in group therapy every semester while enrolled at UF, and we have groups that reflect the diversity of student concerns and identities on our campus. The CWC also offers short-term one-on-one counseling, although there can be a wait during times of highest demand. How many sessions you receive depends on several factors and is something your ongoing counselor will determine with you. Some students benefit from very few sessions, while others need a little more. We will collaborate on this as we work with you.

There are times when long-term counseling in the community might be the best option. Some students want a relationship with a counselor who they can see throughout college. Knowing that the same counselor is available as needed over several months or years can be a great comfort even if you don’t need continuous therapy. Other students have long-standing complex concerns that cannot be adequately addressed in short-term counseling. In these cases, starting short-term counseling only to start over with another counselor can be harmful to your healing.

Should we determine that off-campus support would be best, we talk to you about how and why you could benefit from seeing someone off-campus. We also discuss any barriers you might encounter to seeking off-campus counseling. We can schedule a follow-up meeting with you to help you find the right resources, and we can connect you to a CWC case manager who can give even more support and assistance while you’re getting connected to the best resources for you.

Most students are ultimately receptive to the referral process, but we know it can be disappointing when you had hoped to be seen at the CWC, whether for convenience or because you’re worried about paying for off-campus care. We will always offer to help you to find the right provider who accepts your health insurance, and we do not expect you to figure it out alone.

Only currently enrolled students can access our therapy services, but all students can access our workshops and online self-help resources, as well as our on-call crisis consultations and after-hours phone crisis line. We are continuously working to provide innovative mental health care to serve the greatest number of students in the most useful ways possible. We hope that knowing a little more about what we do can help you prepare for your initial consultation with us and the types of support to which we may refer you.

Sara Nash is a Clinical Associate Professor at the CWC. This column is part of a series from the CWC covering mental health.



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