Counseling Services

Counseling Services

What is Personal Counseling?

Personal counseling is a chance to consider one’s emotional health and fulfillment, to examine one’s relations and activities, to learn how to resolve personal problems or to talk with someone not personally involved with a situation who can give feedback from a different perspective. In this way, one can learn new skills and ways of looking at situations and become more capable of solving problems in the future.
The Rutgers-Camden Student Wellness Center includes both Psychological & Counseling Services and Alcohol/Drug/Nicotine Counseling & Assistance. These departments are staffed by clinical psychologists, a certified addictions specialist, and a consulting psychiatrist. We offer individual, couples and group psychotherapy.

(There is a charge for LD/ADD/ADHD Assessments)

Why do people seek Personal Counseling?

Most people come to Psychological Services when their usual ways of handling problems aren’t working well for some reason. Many students who come feel upset in some way — depressed, angry, stressed, scared or confused. These upsetting feelings can occur in response to a number of situations such as:

  1. Trying to begin or maintain a relationship
  2. Feeling the loss of someone close
  3. Concentration problem, or sleep disturbances
  4. Anxiety about tests or speaking in class
  5. Becoming aware of a problem with alcohol or drugs
  6. Wondering why one is in college
  7. Struggling to become independent from parents
  8. Feeling homesick for family
  9. Concern about family members or friends who have something wrong, such as a drinking problem, divorce, serious illness or death
  10. Reacting to an unwanted pregnancy or a traumatic experience such as rape or childhood sexual abuse
  11. Concerns about one’s sexuality

How do people feel about coming to psychological services?

Students often feel hesitant about seeking psychotherapy for a variety of reasons. For example, they may feel that they should be able to handle all their problems themselves, or they may feel a lot of shame and guilt about their difficulties. In addition, some students are concerned that if they seek psychological services this fact will appear on official records.

What happens when someone comes to psychological services?


The first step is to make an appointment for an introductory interview by calling or coming to the health center. An appointment will usually be scheduled within a couple of days. If anyone feels he or she must see someone sooner they should tell the secretary, who will almost always make an appointment the same day.


The therapist will gather information about the client and why he or she chose to seek help at this point. The therapist will ask about what is troubling the person, how long the problem has existed, what kinds of thoughts and feelings the person has about it and what has been done about the problem in the past. The therapist will also want to know something about the person’s life and family background. Clients will have an opportunity to decide whether to begin ongoing therapy, obtain a referral to another office, or handle their concerns in another way.


If a client decides he or she would like to begin ongoing therapy, and the therapist agrees, the client is usually assigned the therapist he or she has seen for the introductory interview. If a client requests another therapist there may be a delay in assignment but every effort will be make to honor their request. At busy times of the year, it may take up to two weeks for ongoing counseling to begin. However, if the client and/or the therapist feel it is important to begin sooner, this usually can be arranged. Once regular therapy begins, sessions are most commonly scheduled once a week for 45 minutes to an hour. (In instances where it seems more sessions are needed and not other resources are available, the number of sessions may be adjusted.)

Closing words

If someone is still uncertain about whether psychological counseling is the right step, we encourage making an appointment for an introductory interview to discuss any reservations they may have. The service incurs no out of pocket expense and there is no obligation to continue. Students may also make appointments to discuss concerns about people they know and how best to refer them for psychotherapy.


The RCSWC is committed to safeguarding the confidentiality of protected health information (PHI). The contents of any patient medical records, created, received, or maintained by RCSWC, are to be used or disclosed in accordance with this Policy and consistent with State and Federal guidelines. Everyone working in the Student Wellness Center are required to follow our Confidentiality Statement Policy and State and Federal Guidelines.

Confidentiality is a professionally and legally complex issue, not subject to a thorough explanation in a few sentences. Information that a student shares with his/her services provider in the course of a meeting will be treated as confidential material. Treating information confidentially means not releasing it to anyone outside the agency without the student’s permission, including Rutgers University personnel. Under certain, special circumstances, however, information may be released without the student’s permission. The main — although not the only — exceptions to confidentiality arise in situations involving:

  • Danger to self or others
  • Court orders or subpoena of records
  • Child abuse or neglect

Students are encouraged to discuss any concerns they have about confidentiality with their provider of services.

Use of E-mail as a Form of Communication:

To help ensure privacy, students are encouraged not to send information to the Rutgers-Camden Student Wellness Center via e-mail.

A Referral Guide for Faculty & Staff


A referral for psychological counseling should be considered when you believe that a student’s problems go beyond your own experience and expertise, and/or when you feel uncomfortable helping a student with some issue. A referral may be made (a) because the student’s problems are interfering with academic work or your teaching, or (b) because observations of the student’s personal behavior raise concerns apart from academic work. Some more easily recognized indicators that a student may be experiencing more stress than he or she can handle effectively include:

  • Marked decline in quality of course work – e.g., class participation, quality of papers or test results, increased absence from class, failure to turn in work.
  • Prolonged depression – sad expression, apathy, weight changes, sleeping difficulty, tearfulness.
  • Nervousness, agitation, excessive worry, irritability, aggressiveness, nonstop talking.
  • Strange behavior or speech.
  • Extreme dependency on faculty or staff – e.g., hanging around during office hours and at other times.
  • Marked change in personal hygiene.
  • Talk of suicide, either directly or indirectly (such as “I won’t be around to take that exam anyway” or “I’m not worried about getting a job – I won’t need one”).
  • Comments in a student’s paper that arouse concern.

Each student experiences stress somewhat differently. Many disturbances in the 17-22 age groups are relatively transient. However, some behavior changes may be prolonged. If there is doubt about the seriousness of the problem, feel free to consult the Psychological Services staff (856-225-6005) concerning evaluation of the situation and appropriate steps to take. All such communications will be confidential except when a student poses clear and present danger to him/herself or others, or with the expressed permission of the referring faculty member.

Working with students yourself

In some cases, students who seek your help or arouse your concern may work more effectively with you rather than with Psychological Services. You may choose to work with the student on improving academic work (i.e., level of performance, behavior in class) without focusing on underlying psychological issues affecting behavior. It is of utmost importance, however, to determine as soon as possible whether the student requires a sympathetic ear, academic advice, or psychotherapeutic treatment.

Making the referral

One way of introducing the topic of a psychological referral is to reiterate the emotional responses that you have heard from the student, perhaps with an expression of your concern. For example, “You sound very upset about that area. I have found that other students who have felt that way have benefited from talking to a professional, someone at Psychological Services. How would you feel about that?”

Once the student has agreed that it might be useful to seek counseling, there are several possible steps to take, depending on the student’s attitude and the urgency of the situation.

  1. Give the student information about Psychological Services and urge him/her to call.
  2. Offer to let the student call from your office right then, so that a public commitment will have been made.
  3. Accompany the student yourself to make sure he or she arrives and provide the Psychological Services staff with information. We would appreciate your calling ahead if the student is being brought over or sent directly, so that plans can be made to have a counselor available.

In speaking to the student about counseling, it is important to keep in mind some of the negative reactions a student might have to the idea and to discuss them. Counseling is not just for “crazy” people, nor does it encourage dependency. Counseling does provide a chance to explore issues and solve problems with the help of an objective, sensitive, concerned listener.

Another point, of course, is that the student (although probably ambivalent) should want help. Coercing a student to go to counseling is not likely to have positive results in the long run. Generally, unless there is some immediate concern about the welfare of the student or others, it is better to try to maintain your relationship with the student rather than to force him or her to go to the counseling center.

What happens after a referral is made?

Once a student calls or goes to Psychological Services, an appointment is made for an initial interview. This will usually be held within a few days from the time the student makes contact, depending largely on the flexibility of the student’s schedule and available staff time.

In an emergency, as defined either by you or the student, arrangements will be made to see the student that same day, usually within an hour or so. The initial interview will be relatively short and is intended to learn what is troubling the student and assess what services would be most helpful. If ongoing counseling is appropriate, regular appointments (usually 45-60 minutes once a week) will begin soon.

Psychological emergencies

If an emergency arises during the day, consult Psychological Services (856-225-6005). If a student is actively suicidal, do not leave him or her alone, but send someone for help, if possible. If a suicide attempt is actually in progress, notify University Police to arrange medical care and transportation. For emergencies arising after office hours, call the University Police (856-225-6009 or just 6009 if using a campus phone). Transportation to the Crisis Unit will be arranged.

Psychological Services — an overview

Psychological Services is an integral part of the Rutgers-Camden Student Wellness Center. Counseling services provided are designed to help students with personal problems which interfere with individual development and academic progress. While we are able to assist those with serious problems, many of our efforts focus on enhancing personal growth and effectiveness through prevention activities. Services offered range from a brief consultation to a more comprehensive psychological / psychiatric assessment, crisis intervention, individual, couples and group counseling modalities. Consultation about students is also provided to academic and non-academic agencies within the University.

Psychological Services is staffed by clinical psychologists and a consulting psychiatrist.


This service helps students to clarify the nature of their personal difficulties and to identify options for counseling both within and outside the University. It is on the basis of this evaluation that the counselor can determine whether or not any emergency or crisis response is necessary to manage a student’s concern. Psychiatric evaluations are provided when indicated.


The most frequent request by clients is individual and relationship counseling. Individual counseling can focus on such concerns as anxiety and tension, depression, procrastination, grief due to the loss of a loved one, loneliness, lack of self-esteem or self-confidence, sexual abuse, eating disorders, sexual identity/orientation, and many other personal issues. Relationship counseling focuses on improving or understanding relationships between roommates, friends, spouses, and parents. It can also be used to help the student improve social as well as living skills in the residence hall system.

Psychological Services also offers a variety of opportunities for clients to understand themselves better and to enhance their relationships with others. This may involve changing self-defeating behavioral patterns, understanding uncomfortable feelings, or enhancing personal strengths and abilities. Counseling Services can also help students to:

  1. Develop more independence and maturity.
  2. Handle life situations more effectively.
  3. Accept responsibility for behavior.
  4. Manage stress and anxiety appropriately.
  5. Live by a personal value system.
  6. Create a healthy and satisfying lifestyle.
  7. Develop a mature sexuality.
  8. Develop and maintain satisfying interpersonal relationships.
  9. Enhance self-esteem and self-confidence.
  10. Resolve conflicts and make decisions more effectively.
  11. Address and gain satisfaction out of work activities.

All services provided, as well as clients’ records, are strictly confidential. No information regarding clients is released to any person or agency, including university personnel, without the written permission of the client.

There are no charges for counseling of full-time students. Part-time students and those enrolled at University College are eligible upon payment of the Student Wellness Center fee.

Educational Programming:

Psychological Services provides educational programs on an arranged basis for specific student groups or University Departments requesting special topic presentations.

Consultation Services:

Consultation is provided with any faculty member of a University Department having questions about the behavior of a student. Such consultation may focus on the appropriate management of disruptive classroom behavior, inappropriate interpersonal behavior, or any other issues which may be of general concern to faculty, staff or other students.

Related Services

There are several other mental health resources in the University and the community. They include the Alcohol / Drug / Nicotine Counseling & Assistance Program for Students (856-225-6005), a counseling and information program for students concerned about their drinking or use of other drugs, about a friend’s use/abuse, or about drug or alcohol misuse in their family. The staff at Psychological Services will refer a student to this and other services as appropriate.

Counseling services for Faculty & Staff

Faculty and staff can receive free short-term psychotherapy help with work related problems, and referrals through the Faculty & Staff Assistance Program (FSAP) on the Rutgers – New Brunswick campus. Coverage for mental health services is also provided through the standard University health insurance.