Counseling Center

Drop Shadow

Services Offered and How to Access Counseling Services

The Counseling Center provides free, confidential, counseling services to enrolled students. Most students' counseling needs can be readily addressed by the center's professional staff, which includes psychologists, carefully selected and supervised trainees from doctoral programs in clinical and counseling psychology, and a contract psychiatrist.

Services Offered

Group therapy and support groups:

Group counseling is an ideal form of treatment for students who can benefit from the support of others who have similar concerns, or who want to improve their social skills. Learn more about the center’s current groups by visiting our Group Therapy and Support Groups web page. You may also consult with one of the center’s counselors in deciding which group will best meet your needs.

Individual counseling:

Many students participate in time-limited individual counseling, which typically involves attending weekly, 45-50 minute counseling sessions to address specific concerns. The duration of treatment varies according to students’ needs, but counselors work to provide relatively brief treatment in order to offer services to as many students as possible. The frequency of sessions may increase during a time a acute crisis or decrease as counseling tapers off. Many students address their concerns after attending a few sessions, while others require significantly more. During our busiest times—which typically occur towards the end of each semester—the center may have limited capacity to provide ongoing counseling services, but our walk-in services are always available. During these busiest times, students who don’t require immediate treatment may be offered a range of options, including:

  • Community referral. The center maintains an extensive community referral list, including private and public mental health providers who offer low cost and “sliding scale” services.
  • Placement on “wait list.” Students may request a meeting with the director of the center, who may place them on a “wait list” and notify them when services are available. Of course, deferred counseling is only appropriate for students who are functioning well and who are not at risk of significant deterioration in their functioning.

Psychological consultation:

Counseling Center staff offer consultations for students, faculty, staff, and families concerned about a student. These consultations can take the form of a telephone conversation or a face-to-face appointment. The sorts of concerns addressed in such consultations include how to refer a student to the center, how to help a student in crisis, etc.

Psychiatric consultation:

The center contracts with a part-time psychiatrist to provide psychiatric evaluations. If treatment with psychotropic medication is indicated, the psychiatrist may initiate psychiatric treatment and then refer students for continued psychiatric care in the community. Given the limited psychiatric services available at the center, the psychiatrist is not positioned to offer emergency or long-term services (for example, supervision of medication to treat an attention disorder).

Community referrals:

Students requiring specialized, long-term, court mandated, or other treatment that falls beyond the scope of the center’s services will be referred to treatment providers in the community who can meet their needs. The center has contacts with a wide range of community treatment providers, including some who offer low cost services or charge for services on a sliding scale. Depending on the circumstances, counselors may continue to meet with students as students establish treatment in the community, and may request students’ permission to collaborate with community providers in meeting students’ treatment needs.

How to Access Services

The easiest way to secure services is by coming to the center (located in Serra 300) during walk-in hours, but initial appointments can also be arranged by telephone (call 619-260-4655). Walk-in hours are available whenever undergraduate classes are in session (when classes are not in session, call the center confirm our walk-in schedule).

Walk-in Hours

  • 11:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m., Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays, Fridays
  • 11:00 a. m. to 5:00 p.m., Wednesdays

Emergency Services

  • A counselor-on call is available to consult about after-hours psychological emergencies at all times. The counselor-on call can be reached by calling Public Safety (x2222 on any campus telephone, otherwise call 619-260-2222).
  • The 24-hour San Diego Access and Crisis Line (888-724-7240) also offers crisis intervention, information, and referrals.

Access to Wellness Services in the summer

During the summer, Wellness services are available to students who are enrolled in summer courses. If you need to access medical or mental health services during the summer and are not enrolled in a summer course, please contact one of the Student Wellness departments for information regarding access to community resources. You may also consult with Counseling Center staff about counseling services available in the community by coming into the office during walk-in hours. For students who are enrolled in the USD student health insurance plan through Aetna, the Student Health Center will be able to assist with community referrals and deductible waivers.