Frequently Asked Questions
Our hope is to make it as easy as possible for you to make a time to meet with one of us. To schedule an appointment, you can just walk on in, call Heidi at the front desk at 802-654-2234, or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org. She is very friendly and will help you to get a time in the schedule that works for you.
For the first three weeks and the last three weeks of the semester, we are doing same day appointments only, so you can call or email or call to come in that same day. During the middle ten weeks of the semester, you can schedule ahead OR just come to walk-ins, which we have every weekday (M-F) from 9 am – noon and 1:00 – 4:30 pm. Walk-ins are scheduled as same-day appointments and are on a first come, first served basis.
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.
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 and the State of Vermont disclosure/complaint 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. While you are waiting, feel free to enjoy a cup of tea.
When you meet with your counselor, they 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. We are goal-focused and collaborative in our approach to our work with students. We aim to help students improve their lives by focusing on the changes they want to make. We hope to provide immediate, meaningful care focused on what your needs are right from the very first session. That one session may be all you need, or you and your counselor together may decide that coming back for another meeting would be a better plan based on your needs. We have a range of follow up options available for you to choose based on your unique situation. 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.
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, micro-aggressions, homesickness, trouble with getting their work done, behavioral sanctions, peer issues, relationship issues, etc. Sometimes, one meeting is all that is needed to address what is important to a student. Other times, a student may choose to come back either for a group, a 30-minute meeting, or another 50-minute meeting. Sometimes students do not want to schedule another meeting but will use our same day walk-in appointments as needed going forward.
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. If you have a gender preference in your counselor, please let us know. 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 counselors has different areas of clinical expertise and focus which you can read about on our website bios.
There is no extra cost for counseling services. They are available for all full-time, undergraduate students as well as students in the IEP/AEP program and international graduate students.
Counseling sessions are free.
Counseling sessions are free. No insurance is charged so parents or guardians will never receive any bill.
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.
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 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).
Emails sent to you from our offices will be sent using a secure message system and become 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.
Referrals from faculty and staff members are a great way to help students connect to our services. However, we do not share any information about you with anyone outside of Bergeron without your written permission, regardless of whether they referred you or not.
During college many students seek out the support of a Personal Counselor. Some students meet with a counselor once or twice, others choose to attend more meetings, depending on their need. 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…)
- 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
During the first three and last three weeks of the semester, we offer same day first-come, first-serve walk-in appointments every weekday (M-F) all day only. During the middle ten weeks of the semester, we have walk-in, same day appointments from 11am – 12noon, and 1 – 4:30pm. 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.
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 Morgan at the front desk (802-654-2234 or email@example.com.) 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.
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. SMC 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.
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”.