Essential Information for Clients

Matching Counseling Needs and Resources

In your first appointment, you and your counselor will discuss the concerns that have brought you to counseling. The counselor will ask about your mental health history and any previous counseling experiences you have had. You and your counselor may also talk briefly about your family and your experience here at Luther. At the close of the first session, the counselor will recommend the counseling arrangements that seem best suited to your needs. Usually that involves short-term, individual counseling (up to 10-12 sessions) at the Counseling Service. If it appears that you will need more intensive, specialized, or longer term counseling than we can provide, the counselor will recommend referral to an off campus mental health professional. See Off-Campus Services for more information.

Appointment Scheduling

You will typically see your counselor for a weekly appointment of 50 minutes. It is highly important that you come regularly for appointments if counseling is to be helpful to you.

If you have an unworkable conflict with your appointment time, please call or email in advance (at least by the preceding day) to cancel and reschedule. You do not have a standing appointment. To see your counselor again after a missed or canceled appointment, you need to reschedule with our administrative assistant by calling (563) 387-1375 or emailing counseling@luther.edu. However, we strongly prefer that you handle all discussion of counseling issues via face-to-face contact with us or phone.

Note: Repeated late cancellations or missed appointments may lead to loss of eligibility for counseling.

If you need night/weekend emergency help, contact one of the previously cited crisis resources. We do not maintain 24-hour access to email. The counselors are sometimes out of the office on weekdays.

The Counseling Process

Our counseling work with clients might best be described as professionally coached self-change. After exploring your current life situation and the changes you would like to make, you and your counselor will jointly develop goals for counseling and discuss how you can best achieve those goals. Counseling is not like a visit to a medical doctor, where you might receive a diagnosis and prescribed treatment carried out entirely by your physician.  Counseling is a collaborative process that requires a very active effort on your part and a significant commitment of your time and energy. To reach your goals, you will have important work to do both during sessions and between sessions. Counseling can have benefits and risks. Since counseling often involves discussing difficult or painful aspects of your life, you may experience uncomfortable feelings like sadness, guilt, anger, fear, or frustration. On the other hand, research suggests counseling is often beneficial. Counseling can lead to solutions to specific problems, significant reductions in feelings of distress, better relationships, and other life changes. But there are no guarantees of what you will experience.

Counseling Records

You will have an electronic counseling record that will contain your intake materials, notes by your counselor about the work you are doing together, and other counseling related materials. Electronic counseling records are stored on a secure server dedicated to Counseling and have several levels of security protection. Only Counseling staff members will have access to your electronic record. Your record will be deleted eight years after the academic year in which your last counseling appointment occurred.

Client Rights

As a client, you should be aware that you have the following rights:

  • To ask questions about your counselor’s professional qualifications, experience, and approaches to working with clients and about the goals and nature of counseling
  • To be an active participant in decisions about counseling goals and strategies and to refuse any goals or strategies with which you do not agree
  • To have your counseling experience remain confidential, within certain limits (see Policy on Confidentiality)
  • To end counseling at any time 

Crisis Situations

The issues for which students seek counseling sometimes involve considerable stress and intense painful feelings. If you should feel that you need assistance before your next (or first) scheduled appointment, you may take one of following steps:

Weekdays, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.: Contact your counselor at the Counseling Service (563-387-1375). If your counselor is out of the office, another counselor can talk with you.

Nights/weekends: Counselors do not maintain a formal “on call” schedule for emergency coverage after office hours. Use one of the following resources for emergency assistance. 

Contact:

  • Your RA      
  • Your hall director     
  • Campus Security (563-387-2111)

Go directly to:

  • Winneshiek Medical Center Emergency Room, 901 Montgomery St., Decorah, (563) 382-2911

Call a 24-hour crisis line:

For more information, see Crisis Resources.

Ending Counseling

The best time to end counseling is when you and your counselor agree that you have reached your goals and that the issues for which you sought counseling are well on their way to resolution. If you have concerns about your counseling experience, please discuss them with your counselor rather than dropping out of counseling. The chances are good that you and your counselor can work out your concerns about the counseling process.

If you have a serious concern that you do not feel able to raise with your counselor, you may bring it to Pam Torresdal, Director of Counseling, or to Corey Landstrom, Dean for Student Life (563-387-1020). Complete confidentiality cannot be guaranteed, depending on the nature of the complaint.

Social Networking Sites

It is the practice of Counseling Service staff members to not accept contact or "friend" requests from clients on social networking sites such as Facebook or LinkedIn. They can compromise your privacy and also complicate our helping relationship.

Consent to Counseling

When you come for your first appointment, we will ask you to read and sign an informed consent statement. Before signing, be sure that you thoroughly understand the information on this web page, as well as the Policy on Confidentiality web page. If you have any questions or concerns about policies or procedures at the Counseling Service that make you hesitant to sign this informed consent statement, you may defer signing this document and discuss your questions or concerns with your counselor at your first appointment.