Counseling is a unique, confidential and collaborative process between a trained helper and a person seeking help, in which both the skills of the helper and the relationship created help the person put his or her problem in perspective and handle it more effectively.
Through personal interaction with a counselor, a student is helped to explore and express feelings, examine beliefs and ways of thinking about the world, reflect on patterns of behavior, and work toward making healthy changes. At Virginia Wesleyan University, counseling is available to all students as a personal, free and confidential service, directed to any concerns they may bring. Typical issues faced by college students may include:
- Difficulty adjusting to college
- Problems in relationships of all kinds (familial, romantic, with roommates or friends)
- Stress caused by life events, by academic or financial difficulties
- Recent trauma such as death of a significant person, rape or sexual assault, witness to a traumatic event, etc.
- Feeling frequently depressed or anxious - feelings of panic or dread
- Low self-esteem
- Feelings of isolation, shyness and loneliness
- Difficulty controlling temper and tendency toward violence
- Questions about sexuality, about sexual orientation
- Problems with alcohol and/or other drug abuse
- Problems with eating disorders and with obsession with food
- Past or present pregnancy
- Past or present experience of verbal, physical and/or sexual abuse
- Attention Deficit Disorder
- Need to monitor progress while on medication
- Concern over another student
- Any other source of emotional pain or concern
- Wishing to increase self-awareness, maximize potential or make the overall college experience more productive and meaningful
Individual counseling is the service most often requested by students and is therefore the primary service provided through the Student Counseling Center. In some cases, students have found relational, mediation or couples counseling to be helpful in difficulties with other students, family members or significant others. The counselors are also available as a resource for students who wish to develop a particular support group or awareness campaign. An extensive library of information on mental health and substance abuse issues is available to students in the Student Counseling Center as well.
Virginia Wesleyan has a chapter of the Bandana Project on campus. The Bandana Project is a suicide prevention and mental health awareness initiative through which students receive training on identifying signs of mental health distress, skills in engaging people in supportive communication, and mental health resources available to students. Students who complete the training, provided by the Director of Counseling and Student Health, receive customized resource cards to provide to students in need and a lime green bandana to identify them as a mental health advocate for students in need. View VWU's resources at the Bandana Project.
Students may request services themselves, or the Vice President for Campus Life, Residence Life staff, Health Services or others may refer students to the Counseling Center when they feel the student could benefit from counseling and, thus, have a more successful and satisfying educational experience at Virginia Wesleyan.
Students may be directed to off-campus resources that are recommended by counselors if appropriate services are not available on campus. In these cases, any referral will be made with consideration to the student's financial resources.