Policies and philosophy of care
Philosophy of care
The Student Counseling Service philosophy of care is based on three guiding principles: collaboration, competence and autonomy.
We strive to develop a sense of togetherness that engenders a productive healing relationship.
We strive to honor each student’s sense of self through choice and a therapeutic alliance that harnesses personal strengths.
We strive to maintain a sense of personal responsibility that respects each student’s capacity for personal growth.
As such, we provide easy, immediate access to mental health services through a variety of options (face-to-face, mobile, and web-based) with the expectation that each student will be an active participant in the therapeutic process.
Our counseling office provides brief strength-based counseling services as well as on-going treatment through self-paced, therapist-directed mobile services. We do not provide specialized, long-term care, but we are well-equipped to connect students to the appropriate community partners for such services.
Our philosophy of care ensures that Student Counseling Service is available to all students within a convenient, therapeutic time frame, while also allowing us to be reasonable and prudent in our services, meeting the needs of the greatest number of students at the right moment.
Student privacy is of utmost importance. All services are strictly confidential. We will not release information about a student — or even acknowledge whether a student is being seen — without the student's consent.
Although there are specific exceptions to confidentiality under Illinois law (such as if an individual presents a danger to themselves or others), such exceptions are rare.
The law protects the privacy of all communications between clients and mental health professionals. In most situations treatment information can only be released with written permission from you. The SCS cannot release any information about your counseling to your parents (or anyone else) without your permission. There are certain limited exceptions to confidentiality, including:
• If a client threatens to harm him/herself, the counselor may be obligated to seek hospitalization and/or to contact family members or others who can help provide protection.
• If a client is involved in a court proceeding and a request is made for information concerning counseling, such information is protected by therapist/patient privilege unless there is a court order. If you are involved in or are contemplating litigation you should consult with your attorney to determine whether a court would be likely to order disclosure of information.
• If a government agency is requesting the information for health oversight activities, we may be required to provide it for them.
• Counselors are required by law to file a report if you state that you are abusing a child or dependent adult. Once such a report is filed, we may be required to provide additional information.
• If a client threatens serious physical harm to an identifiable victim, the counselor may be required to disclose information in order to take protective action. These actions may include notifying the potential victim, contacting the police, or seeking hospitalization for the client.
• If a client files a complaint or lawsuit against a counselor, the counselor has the right to disclose relevant information to defend him/herself.
Counseling Service records are kept separate from your general student file and are NOT accessible by any college employees except SCS staff. Our clinical staff do consult with each other on cases regularly; all counselors are bound to keep such consultations confidential.
In any of the above-mentioned situations, your counselor will make every effort to fully discuss it with you before taking any action, and limit disclosure to what is necessary.
The Student Counseling Service staff welcomes your contact. However, we strongly prefer you handle all consultation, appointment scheduling, and discussion of counseling issues via phone or in person.
The nature of email is like sending a postcard, and we cannot guarantee its confidentiality. In terms of discussing issues, we believe email is not as useful as in-depth, in-person contact. Finally, staff members are at times away from the office, so we cannot guarantee a prompt response. This becomes especially problematic with messages concerning crisis situations.
We take your time and confidentiality very seriously and therefore consider it imperative that you understand the limitations of our use of email technology.
Although you may choose to contact Counseling Center staff via email about such matters as rescheduling or canceling an appointment, please keep in mind that staff may not check their email regularly or may inadvertently miss your email message altogether. Also, email is subject to interception and is not considered reliably confidential.
Bearing this in mind, any urgent or sensitive matter should be handled by means of telephone or face to face conversations rather than by email.