Concerned about confidential counseling

Originally Published: February 10, 2012
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I go to a college that offers free counseling to students. While I would like to take advantage of this, I feel that my pride is getting in the way of getting any help that I may need. I’m afraid of someone seeing me walk into the office, and someone seeing me in the waiting room of the office as well. (The door is left open). Any ideas on how I go about this? I'm also worried because a guy I know and work with, also works in there. He is the obnoxious, jock-type and going in there while he is working, is a concern of mine — also, if he sees that I have an appointment.

Dear Reader,

Going to see a counselor should help decrease your stress — not contribute to it. Fortunately, there are many ways that you can access the counseling service , whether it is scheduling an appointment by phone, or seeking out another resource. Remember, you’re not alone; mental and emotional stressors are some of the most common concerns  that college students face. Don’t be afraid to reach out for help!

If the presence of this other student in the counseling office is a concern, you may want to call or email the counselors directly to schedule an appointment when the other student is not working in the office. Perhaps you can schedule a phone counseling session if that’s more comfortable for you. Columbia students can get in touch with a counselor at Counseling and Psychological Services by calling (212) 854-2878.

Alternatively, you may be able to seek counseling through a different resource. Some colleges offer peer counseling services where you can call in anonymously or chat online with a peer counselor. Columbia students can access anonymous peer counseling by calling 212-854-7777. If your school doesn’t have its own peer counseling program, perhaps you can contact a similar program at another institution to see if they can help you.

There are also free clinics located in most major cities where they offer fairly comprehensive health services, usually including counseling as well. You may want to search online for free counseling in your area, or perhaps your school’s counseling office could provide you with more information on local resources.

Whether you decide to make the appointment at your school’s counseling center, or pursue other avenues of help, it is important to not deny yourself the opportunity to seek support. Remember, you’re definitely not alone in your desire to seek help.

Alice