Services

This section describes how counseling works, how you can make an appointment for individual counseling, and other services available to you in our office.

What is counseling?
What kinds of issues can I discuss?
Who are the counselors?
Who can use the counseling service?
How do I see a counselor?
What happens in the first appointment?
Who will know?
Types of counseling services

Introduction to Counseling

What is counseling?

Counseling provides a supportive environment in which to talk openly and confidentially about personal issues and to work toward change in one's thoughts, feelings, behavior, relationships, and/or life situation.

Counseling is a collaborative process which involves the development of a unique helping relationship. In this relationship, the counselor acts as a skilled facilitator in helping the client identify and achieve desired changes.

The client's own effort and initiative are critical to this process, much as an athlete's performance depends on his or her hard work as well as on the coach's expertise and support.

What kinds of issues can I discuss?

You may discuss any personal concern. Students bring a wide variety of issues to counseling. Concerns frequently discussed include:

  • Relationships
  • Family issues
  • Life decisions
  • Feelings of depression, loneliness, stress, or anxiety
  • Sexuality
  • Body image and eating issues
  • Substance use
  • Loss and grief
  • Sexual assault or childhood abuse

The focus of the Counseling Service is on helping students with personal issues. If your concerns are academic rather than personal, you would probably benefit most by seeking help from the Student Academic Support Center, Student Support Services, and your advisor.

If your concerns center around your major, career path, or job search, consult with  the Career Center and your academic advisor.

Who are the counselors?

Licensed mental health professionals with substantial experience working with college students.

  • Pam Torresdal, Ph.D.
    Licensed Psychologist
    Director
  • Stuart Johnston, M.S.
    Licensed Mental Health Counselor; Nationally Certified Counselor
  • Marty Steele, M.S.
    Licensed Mental Health Counselor; Nationally Certified Counselor
  • Carol Hagen, MSW
    Licensed Independent Social Worker
  • Rya McCann, MSW
    Licensed Independent Social Worker
  • Mary Cannady,
    Administrative Assistant

Who can use the counseling service?

Any full- or part-time student currently enrolled at Luther College. Counseling is free, voluntary, confidential, and available when classes are in session during the academic year.

How do I see a counselor?

Come to the Counseling Service on the lower level of Larsen Hall. Office hours are weekdays from 8 a.m. to noon and 1 p.m. to 5 p.m., when classes are in session.

You will complete brief intake materials and then receive an appointment to see a counselor, usually within a few days. You can complete this intake process within 10 to 15 minutes. Same-day appointments are available for emergency situations.

If you need immediate help for yourself or a friend at night, on a weekend, or during a break period, learn about crisis resources.

What happens in the first appointment?

You and your counselor will meet for 50 minutes to explore your current concerns and the changes you desire. You will decide together whether the Counseling Service is the best resource for you or whether another resource would be more appropriate. Most students continue with individual or group counseling at the Counseling Service.

Generally, we are able to provide short-term counseling of up to 10 to 15 sessions. Referral to off-campus mental health resources may be necessary when a student needs more intensive, specialized, or longer term counseling than we can provide.

Who will know?

We regard your contacts with us and the issues you discuss as private and confidential. We will not share information with anyone outside our office without your consent.

There are some limited exceptions to confidentiality, such as situations involving danger of serious harm to you or others.

Services

Individual Counseling:

Many students meet with a counselor on a one-to-one basis for weekly, 50-minute sessions. The average number of sessions that clients attend is about six.

Group Counseling:

Counseling in a small group offers insight, support, and change strategies from both peers and professional counselors. Groups typically have a specific focus such as stress management, test anxiety, grief work, or social skills. Learn more about group counseling.

Referral

A student who needs services we cannot provide will be introduced to appropriate on- or off-campus resources. Learn about off-campus mental health services.

Consultation

Within the guidelines of our confidentiality policy, counselors consult with faculty, staff, parents, and friends in regard to concerns about students. If you are concerned about a friend, learn how to help.

Education

The counselors are involved with various outreach presentations and activities around campus. Call the Counseling Service (563) 387-1375 if you are interested in developing an activity for your residence hall floor or student group.

Psychological Disabilities

If you have been in treatment for significant psychological problems, you may meet the criteria for having a "psychological disability" and may be eligible for "reasonable accommodations" under the 1990 Americans With Disabilities Act. To explore this, contact Disability Services. A counselor can also help you connect with this office.