FAQs

How do I make an appointment?
What can I expect when I come in?
Am I eligible to attend?
How much does it cost?
Will my parents be billed for my counseling sessions?
How many sessions will I need to attend?
What is your confidentially policy?
What does it mean if I am referred by a faculty or a staff member?
Who goes to counseling?
What are walk-ins and how do they work?
What if I miss an appointment?
What should I do if I am worried about a friend?
What if I did not feel that my counselor was a good fit for me? 

How do I make an appointment?

To schedule an appointment, you may call or email Kari at the front desk.  She is very friendly can be reached directly by phone at 802-654-2234 or email kbierbaum@smcvt.edu.  In addition to scheduled appointments, we offer walk-in appointments every weekday (M-F) from 1:30- 4:00 pm.  These appointments are scheduled as same-day appointments and are first come, first serve.

We recognize that there can be some obstacles that may get in the way of walking over to the Bergeron Wellness Center or picking up the phone to make that first counseling appointment.  Sometimes students wonder about confidentiality, what will the waiting room be like, if they really want to try counseling, what people might think and what happens in a counseling appointment?  We have designed the intake process with these concerns in mind and hope that you will find it to be smoother and easier than you might think.

The walls of the Wellness Center are decorated with photos from the Global Eyes series.  We’ve chosen these photos both because they are beautiful pictures taken by SMC students and because they highlight the diversity of our student body.  If English is your second language, we offer translation services in your home language. If it makes you feel more comfortable, feel free to come over with a friend, family member or trusted staff/faculty member to facilitate the initial contact.

What can I expect when I come in?
 
When you come in for a scheduled counseling appointment, you’ll begin by completing some initial paperwork which will help your counselor get to know you a little better, help you identify some of the things you’d like to talk about and give you a basic orientation to our confidentiality process.  This paperwork may take you 10-15 minutes to complete, so please arrive a little early.  When you have completed your paperwork, your counselor will greet you in the waiting room and walk with you to their office.  Sometimes we’ll stop to get some tea along the way at the kitchen if you’d like.  
 
At this time your counselor will answer any questions you may have about the counseling process generally and will review the confidentiality policy and State of Vermont disclosure/complaint process with you.  The first session is an opportunity for you to begin to develop some rapport with your counselor and to the degree you are comfortable to discuss what is bringing you into counseling.  During the first visit, the counselor may ask you a little about your history, how things are going for you currently and what you’d like to work on going forward.  
 
Sometimes students have worked with counselors in the past and may know that they are seeking help with common mental health issues such as depression, anxiety, substance use, issues with eating, grief and loss, self-harming behaviors, troubling thoughts, moods etc.  Other times, students have not seen a counselor in the past and aren’t sure exactly what is bothering them.  Students often come to counseling to discuss the adjustment to college, culture shock, microagressions, homesickness, trouble with getting their work done, behavioral sanctions, peer issues and relationship issues, etc.
 
The counseling relationship is a unique relationship, where the focus is on you and what you want to talk about.  It can be a place for you to develop insights, to learn some relaxation/ self-regulation skills, and to work on meaningful goals in your life.  The fit between you and your counselor is very important.  At the Wellness Center there are two male counselors and two female counselors.  If you have a gender preference in your counselor please let us know.  If the fit between you and your counselor doesn’t feel right, you always have the option to work a different counselor.  One easy way to switch counselor is to just call up again and say “I have met with ___ and I would to be scheduled to meet with one of the other counselors this week.”
 
What you discuss with your counselor is confidential.  See full confidentiality policy under the “what is confidentiality?” FAQ.  Although we are all generalists, each of the four counselors has different areas of clinical expertise and focus which you can read about on our website bios.

Am I eligible to attend?
 
Counseling sessions are free for full-time, undergraduate students as well as students in the IEP/AEP program and international graduate students.
 
How much does it cost?
 
Counseling sessions are free.  
 
Will my parents be billed for my counseling sessions?
 
Counseling sessions are free.  No insurance is charged so parents or guardians will never receive any bill.
 
How many sessions will I need to attend?
 
Participation in counseling is a personal choice. It is up to you to determine how much counseling is beneficial to you. After your initial meeting, you decide if you would like to return for a second session with a counselor. Generally, we meet with students on a short-term intermittent basis depending on the student's needs. If it is determined that a student needs longer term or more intensive counseling, we will provide referrals to off-campus therapist.

What is your confidentially policy?

Confidentiality is a very important part of our work.  We recognize that the SMC community often feels small and that anonymity and confidentiality are important considerations for students regarding the sharing of personal information.  Essentially, we won’t be speaking to anyone on or off campus about you without your written permission, with a few safety-related exceptions.  For a full explanation of our confidentiality policy and the exceptions to confidentiality see below.  We’ll ask you to read and sign this document at your first visit.

"Information shared by you will be kept in strict confidence within the Bergeron Wellness Center. In order to provide the best possible service to students, we create and maintain clinical records that may include history, symptoms, diagnosis, and treatment plans using secured paper and electronic health records.
Professional staff may confer with each other (Nurse Practitioners, Counselors, Nutritionist) with the goal of providing comprehensive, high quality care that focuses on your physical and emotional health and well-being. (Professional staff has access to both paper and electronic health records).
Email sent to you from our offices will be sent using a secure message system and becomes part of your clinical record. Standard email is not a secure form of communication. We do not provide online counseling and email should never be used in urgent situations as we do not maintain continuous access to our secure email.
Medical, counseling and nutrition records are NOT part of academic records, and no one outside of the Bergeron Wellness Center has access to them without your express written permission.
You have a right to access your records. We ask that you notify us in writing with a minimum of 48 hours’ notice. We also ask that you discuss the release of mental health records with your Personal Counselor.
All Health care professionals have a legal responsibility to disclose client information without prior consent in specific circumstances outlined below:

  • If we believe you might pose a threat to yourself or cause harm to others.
  • If your records are subpoenaed by a Court of Law/Court Order
  • If you share information about instances of potential child or elder abuse

Our goal is to meet your physical and emotional health needs. If we are unable to do so, we will help to refer you to an off-campus medical provider, therapist, psychiatrist or other appropriate specialist.
Please note: If you are here to discuss your concerns about another person, we may be compelled to act on your concerns and information. While every effort is made to honor your anonymity, we may need to be forthright with that person about how concerns originated." 

What does it mean if I am referred by a faculty or a staff member?
 
Referrals from faculty and staff members are a great way to help students connect to our services. Referring though does not mean we share information with the person that referred you.  Regardless of the referral source our work with students falls under our confidentiality policy.  Aside from the exceptions listed in our policy, we don’t speak to anyone about you without your permission.

Who goes to counseling?

During college many students seek out the support of a Personal Counselor.  Some students meet with a counselor once or twice, others choose to continue counseling on a longer term basis to address issues of deeper concern.  Students initially contact Personal Counseling for a number of different reasons including:

  • Concerns about important relationships
  • Feelings of anxiety or panic
  • Feelings of depression, hopelessness, or suicidality
  • Disruptions in sleep
  • Sex, sexual identity, or sexual orientation
  • Experienced trauma including but not limited to assault and rape
  • Eating, weight, or body image
  • Drug or Alcohol Use
  • Challenging life decisions
  • Performance or creative blocks
  • Motivation and achievement (academic, athletic…)
  • Self-esteem
  • Adjusting to college
  • Adjusting to a new language or culture
  • Coping with microagressions, racism, homophobia, intolerance
  • Coping with a physical illness, disability, or injury
  • Coping with learning disabilities
  • Continued treatment begun at home
  • To develop and build upon personal strengths
What are walk-ins and how do they work?
 
We offer first-come first-serve walk-in appointments every weekday (M-F) from 1:30-4:00 pm.  You may schedule an appointment for walk-ins on the same day you plan to attend or just come by the Wellness Center in the afternoon.  Walk-in appointments are typically 30 minutes, unless it is your first appointment which is usually approximately 45 minutes.  The walk-in format allows students to meet with a counselor for a single session, without having to wait for a scheduled appointment and then to decide if they’d like to meet with that counselor or another counselor to continue the work in the future.  We encourage you to try counseling out during walk-ins, and/or use walk-ins for more urgent needs if the scheduled appointment feels too far away.
 
What if I miss an appointment?
 
We understand that things come up sometimes which get in the way of attending a scheduled appointment.  If you know ahead of time you’ll need to reschedule or if you’d like to cancel an existing appointment, please email or call Kari at the front desk (802-654-2234 kbierbaum@smcvt.edu.)  or your counselor directly.  If you forgot to contact us ahead of time, it’s OK, feel free to reach out and reschedule when you think of it.  You may also get an email from your counselor reaching out to see if you’d like to reschedule.  Sometimes we get fairly busy, especially as we get further into the semester.  We’ll do our best to get you right back in the schedule, but during the busy times it might take a week or so for our schedules to align with yours to get you back in.  If you have an urgent need you may want to try walk-ins in the meantime.  
 
What should I do if I am worried about a friend?
 
If you are worried about a friend, there are many supportive resources on campus that you could help them connect with.  Although it is normal for all of us to experience distress, sometimes it goes beyond what we can manage on our own.  We urge you to share your concerns as opposed to holding them on your own.  Saint Mikes is full of caring students, faculty and staff that can be helpful in connecting you or your friend with the appropriate resources.  If you reach out to a faculty or staff member they can help you connect your friend with the Wellness Center.  You may also walk a friend over to the Wellness Center for that first appointment, or make an appointment yourself to get some more help or perspective. 
 
What if I did not feel that my counselor was a good fit for me?
 
If the fit between you and your counselor doesn’t feel right, you always have the option to work a different counselor.  One easy way to switch counselor is to just call up, e-mail or come by and say “I have met with ___ and I would like to meet with one of the other counselors.” It often takes meeting a few different counselors to find the “right fit”.
 

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