Legit reasons to go to therapy/counseling?

Originally Published: August 29, 2008
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Dear Alice,

I don't have what would qualify for legitimate reason to go to CU Psychological services. Is this service only for medical related problems? I just want to be able to talk to someone about some of my problems right now. I feel like I "know" the answer to all my questions (regarding time management, developing healthy eating and sleeping habits, confusion, signs of depression, life management etc., etc.). However, I thought it would be helpful to talk to a professional that would help me talk through some of things I'm thinking about. Who can I see?

Dear Reader,

Wanting to talk with a professional about any of the things you mentioned — time management, healthy eating and sleeping habits, and hints of depression — falls completely within the scope of Columbia's Counseling and Psychological Services (CPS). Many people wait until they are in a crisis situation to seek help, but it's very smart to talk with someone about concerns as they arise, before they reach emergency status, and to learn behaviors that will help you function in healthy and efficient ways. Working with a professional is a great way to keep healthy, happy, and knowledgeable about yourself.

Any Columbia student enrolled in the Health Service Program (which is just about every full-time student and any part-time student who chose to enroll in Columbia's insurance plan) is welcome to speak with a counselor for short-term counseling. To make an appointment, you can call x4-2878. Within 24 hours of your call, a CPS clinician will return your call to conduct a brief assessment and schedule your first appointment. They will ask you some questions about yourself, and from that match you with a counselor (you can also request a specific counselor, see staff bios for more information). It's also possible to switch clinicians at any time if you feel you would work better with someone else. Students in acute psychiatric distress can be seen without an initial interview during regular CPS hours. If it becomes clear that long-term counseling would be helpful, your CPS clinician will assist you in finding an off-campus provider.

People seek out counseling for all sorts of reasons. The issues you describe are common starting points for many people in counseling. Other people start therapy after noticing a symptom; mental disorders and disturbances often manifest themselves as unwanted behaviors (such as repeated hand washing), feelings (despair), thoughts (obsessing about a relationship), or physiological reactions (racing heart). Whether or not you think you've had any symptoms, talking with a counselor is a great way to manage the multitude of demands that often come up for students and to keep yourself healthy.
Alice