Clinical and Counseling Services
Counseling Center services are free of charge to currently enrolled students who have paid registration fees. Sometimes other people important in your life, such as spouses/ partners, parents, children, or friends, may be involved in therapy sessions with you. The need to involve others will be determined by you and your therapist.
During the summer, students who are enrolled in the preceding spring quarter and are registered for the following fall quarter may receive services depending on service demands.
Students who are Minors (under 18 years of age): Students who are not 18 years of age can be seen for therapy whithout parental consent if the student is 12 year or older and is mature enough to participate intelligently in the treatment. Although parental consent is not reqired for therapy under above circumstances, your therapist is reqired to involve your parent or legal guradian in the treatment unless their involvement would be inappropriate. Your therapist will speak with you first before making the decision to involve your parents. However, your parent or legal guradian does not automatically have access to your mental health records.
Why Do Students Come to the Counseling Center
UC Irvine can be a challenging environment for many students. For some students, the following “Top Ten” list has proven helpful in making the decision to utilize services:
Top Ten Reasons to Visit the Counseling Center
Therapists are ready to help you with any issue you may want to discuss. Some of the issues students discuss include the following:
Here are some common ideas students may have that can interfere with their seeking therapy and responses to each of these interfering thoughts:
“I’m not crazy, and I’m not weak.”
“What would my friends think if they knew?”
“I don’t discuss family matters outside the home.”
“I should be able to handle my own problems.”
“My problem isn’t that big, other people have bigger problems.”
“It’s too expensive.”
The Counseling Center recognizes that each person is unique. As such, the issues addressed and the approaches used for each individual will be tailored through your work with your therapist. This is a collaborative, professional relationship with the focus on your concerns. Initially, your therapist will work with you to identify and assess your needs. Your therapist will often focus on gathering information on the current issues you present, and looking at historical data, if it is appropriate. Your therapist will help clarify your reasons and goals for entering into therapy. Once this is done, your therapist will work with you to determine the best therapeutic approach to help you meet these goals.
There are many approaches to help you move towards growth and problem-resolution. Often therapists will provide you with opportunities to learn new skills and coping mechanisms while also increasing your self-understanding and insight. Therapists may also examine past patterns to help you assess in a healthier way your current/past relationships, decision-making, and family dynamics. With the help of your therapist, you will better understand your strengths and abilities to manage life challenges which can be very important in achieving your therapy goals.
It is helpful for students to understand how to seek services at the Counseling Center. The first step is yours, picking up the phone and calling [(949) 824-6457] or coming in to the Counseling Center [203 Student Services I] to make an appointment. Coming to the Counseling Center is voluntary. You do not need to be referred by someone else. This brochure, "How to Make the Most Out of Your Therapy Experience,” will be helpful to you as you prepare for this first appointment.
When you make that first contact, the receptionist will schedule an “Initial Appointment” for you. The receptionist will offer you the first available initial appointment and will work with you to find a time that fits with your schedule. The initial appointment is an information-gathering appointment rather than a therapy session. The appointment is scheduled for 90 minutes, which includes 30 minutes for initial appointment paperwork. If you are more than 15 minutes late, time with the therapist may be reduced or your appointment may need to be rescheduled, so please plan on arriving right on time.
The initial appointment paperwork must be completed prior to meeting with the therapist. These forms are important as they provide information to the therapist so that the focus of this first appointment can be on clarifying your concerns, needs, and goals for therapy. In this initial session, the therapist will ask many questions in order to gather the information to determine how best to help you. Once you have begun ongoing therapy, the sessions will be less focused on information-gathering.
Based on your forms and your discussion with the therapist, she/he will summarize your meeting and talk with you about options that seem best suited for you and your situation. If you elect to begin ongoing therapy, your therapist will discuss how to proceed and will work to identify an on-going therapist for you. Options include being seen by one of the Counseling Center therapists for individual, couple, or family therapy, participating in one of the Counseling Center groups, or being referred to a provider outside the Counseling Center to better meet your needs. The therapist may identify additional resources on campus or off campus to help you achieve your goals.
Your therapist may suggest a consultation with a psychiatrist and would discuss how this could be set up. It is not unusual for students to be referred to a psychiatrist by their therapist. Many common psychological concerns, such as severe anxiety and depression may warrant such a referral.
You might decide to take no further action following your initial appointment. You are not obligated to start therapy after attending an initial appointment. It is also possible that you will resolve your concerns to your satisfaction in this first visit so no further action is required.
At times because of the demand for Counseling Center services or your limited availability, we may not have therapists available to see you for ongoing therapy immediately after your initial appointment. When this happens, the therapist whom you saw for your initial appointment will continue to be your point of contact in the Counseling Center. When there is a wait for services, your therapist will talk with you about other therapy resources on and off campus.
If you have any additional questions about the first appointment, please don’t hesitate to call our office at (949) 824-6457.
Our basic treatment model of individual, couples and family therapy is short-term and time limited. There is no limit on the amount of group therapy you may receive in any academic year.
Individual therapy begins once you are assigned to a therapist in the Counseling Center. Your therapist for ongoing work may not be the same person whom you saw for your initial appointment. You and your therapist will find a time that is mutually available, and in most instances, you will meet on a weekly basis. Appointments are available from 8 AM to 4 PM with each session typically lasting for 45 to 50 minutes.
Your therapist will work with you to help you resolve those issues that brought you into therapy. With the therapist you will be given an opportunity to develop greater understanding of yourself, your current life situation, and develop insights and skills to help you in the future.
At the conclusion of your work or during the course of treatment with the therapist, you both may agree that continued, longer-term therapy or other assistance may be helpful to you. If this is the case, the therapist will work with you to find appropriate referrals in the community.
There are occasions when a UC Irvine student comes in with an issue that involves their relationship with a spouse/partner or family member(s). In these situations, you and your therapist will assess the appropriateness of involving other parties in the therapy process. Your therapist will work with you to determine if the Counseling Center can meet your goals or whether you would be better served by a referral to off-campus resources.
Even though some students are nervous at first about joining a group, many soon discover that it is the best approach for their particular concerns. Groups can be especially beneficial for students who learn from others or feel lonely, depressed, or anxious, or who are concerned about how they relate to other people. During your initial appointment, your therapist will help you explore the options for group work.
A number of therapy, support, and psychoeducational groups are offered each quarter. Please click here to see the current groups that are being offered this quarter.
Some groups focus on specific concerns such as stress management, relationships, and depression. Some groups are designed to provide support for students with shared identities. Groups meet once weekly for approximately 1-1/2 to 2 hours. The therapy groups usually are limited to no more than eight members while the support groups vary in size.
Except for the support groups, all prospective group members are required to attend a pre-group screening session. A pre-group screening and orientation session is a brief meeting with leader(s) before the group begins. The purposes are to provide information about the group, and to determine if group therapy is the best way to work on your concerns. For more information visit: Group Brochure.
A psychiatrist can aid therapists in diagnosis, assessment of medication needs, and development of therapeutic goals and treatment planning. The Counseling Center has one psychiatrist on staff. Students who are not concurrently receiving therapy at the Counseling Center will be referred to the community for psychiatric services as indicated.
Our psychiatrist functions as a consultant to the therapists at the Counseling Center. Access to the psychiatrist is only available through internal referrals. Therefore, students who require or seek psychiatric services must:
Have seen a Counseling Center therapist for urgent care or intake
Have ongoing contact with their assigned therapist, or
Be in regular care with a therapist in the Counseling Center
Determine by the therapist that a psychiatric referral is indicated.
Our psychiatrist provides psychiatric evaluations and time-limited treatment in urgent cases to help stabilize or prevent a crisis situation. Once the student is stabilized, continued care will be transferred to a provider in the community. Students who are seeking only routine medication management or non-urgent psychiatric evaluations will be directly referred out in the following ways:
Because the Counseling Center psychiatric services are in high demand and limited, we ask students to utilize the service responsibly for their own well-being. For example, students who are transitioning to UC Irvine and require routine medication management will need to take care that they do not run out of their medication and thereby risk relapse. Students who plan to utilize a community-based psychiatrist should make an appointment with the psychiatrist well in advance for this follow-up care. It often takes at least one month to obtain an appointment with a community psychiatrist under an insurance plan.
Between 8 AM and 5 PM Monday through Friday, an urgent care therapist is available to see students in crisis. If you are in crisis, the therapist will work with you to form a plan to manage the urgent situation. Any student who is seriously concerned about another student may also call or come to the Counseling Center to consult with the urgent care therapist. In an emergency in which you or someone else may be in danger go to: Emergency services page.
The Counseling Center is committed to providing services that are consistent with a proactive, developmental, and preventive model of mental health service delivery. The Counseling Center works towards this goal through its consultation and outreach work.
In support of this goal, the Counseling Center staff provides consultation to units across the campus. Among these offices are Residential Life, College of Medicine, Dean of Students, Graduate Schools, Intercollegiate Athletics, University Ombudsman, and Campus Police. The Center also provides workshops and training to the UC Irvine community. Counseling Center staff serve as liaisons to the on campus housing complexes.
The Counseling Center staff is also available to consult with faculty, staff and students on an individual basis to assist in the clarification of concerns and to provide referrals and other supportive resources. Contact us directly at (949) 824-6457 to seek this service.
For more information visit: Faculty/Staff Information page
Therapy is confidential. All information you share with us, whether it is information in our records about you or even the fact that you have come to see us, cannot be shared with others outside the Counseling Center. No one outside the Center may have access to your Counseling Center records without your prior written permission or as required by law. The law in the State of California mandates that information may be appropriately shared when the following conditions exist:
Information about confidentiality and these legal exceptions is also presented in the "Counseling Center Information and Treatment Policies" form.
The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA) is a federal law that is designed to protect the privacy of patient information, provide for the electronic and physical security of health and patient medical information, and simplify billing and other electronic transactions by standardizing codes and procedures. One part of this law is known as the HIPAA Privacy Rule. The HIPAA Privacy Rule created a minimum federal standard for the use and disclosure of Protected Health Information (PHI) by health care organizations. One of the requirements of the Privacy Rule is that we give to you a Notice of Privacy Practices (NPP) which describes your rights and protections regarding your health care records (PHI).
For more information about HIPAA and the notice of Privacy Practices, go to Notice of Privacy Practices (NPP) to see the forms and to review frequently asked questions. If you have additional questions, you can call the Counseling Center, or contact Marion Mallory, RHIA, CHC, Associate Corporate Compliance & Privacy Officer, University of California, Irvine , 333 City Blvd West, Suite 110, Orange, CA 92868, Phone: 714-456-3674, Fax: 714-456-3679