Frequently Asked Questions

Who can use the Counseling Service, and what does it cost?

All students and spouses, domestic partners, and children of students who have paid the Student Life Fee are eligible for services at the SCS. The Student Life Fee allows you to receive diagnostic assessment and short-term treatment, as determined by your clinician.

Alumni are allowed one session at SCS, free of charge, to discuss treatment and referral options. Members of the Student Health Insurance Plan who wish to use their outpatient mental health benefits for therapy outside the SCS must first be assessed and referred by the SCS in order to avoid at $50 per appointment penalty.

Most students pay the Student Life Fee at the time of registration. If you are unsure if you have paid, contact the Registrar's Office at x 2-7891 ((773) 702-7891).

How do I make an appointment?

You can make an appointment by calling x 2-9800 ((773) 702-9800) between 8:30am and 5pm every weekday. A staff member at the front desk will help you find a time to meet with an intake counselor that works with your schedule. Most often, appointments can be arranged within the next few days.

What will happen at my first appointment?

All students who have made an appointment at Student Counseling go through the same process at their first appointment, called "intake." After filling out a form, you will meet with an intake counselor and discuss your personal concerns and your expectations from the counseling process. The counselor will perform an assessment and match you up with the services that can best assist you. Usually students will be assigned to a therapist and/or psychiatrist on the SCS staff, recommended to join a SCS therapy group, or referred to a clinician in the community.

What if I need to talk to someone sooner than my scheduled appointment time?

If you feel that you need to talk to someone urgently and cannot wait for you scheduled appointment time, or that you are in an emergency situation, you should call the front desk, x 2-9800, or walk into Student Counseling at 5555 S. Woodlawn Avenue during business hours. At all times we have a staff member on-call and a consulting psychiatrist to work with this type of situation.

What if I need to talk to someone when the clinic is closed?

During non-office hours, we have an on-call system. If you are having a crisis or feel that you need to talk to someone during a time when the clinic is closed, you should call x 2-3625 ((773) 702-3625) and ask to speak to the SCS staff member on-call.

What is your policy on confidentiality?

It is your choice whether or not to discuss your use of the Counseling Service with family, friends, and university personnel. Other than authorized SCS staff, no one will have access to your mental health records without your signed consent. They will not become a part of your academic file, and even the fact that you have come to the SCS will not be divulged to anyone inside or outside the University without your permission.

An exception to confidentiality would be a situation in which you were assessed to be a danger to yourself or others. In this situation, we have a legal obligation to inform the appropriate authorities. If you have any questions about this policy, please raise them with your therapist or with David Albert, PhD, Director of the SCS. Copies of the full policy are available at the front desk.

Is there a limit on how many sessions I am allowed at SCS?

While there is no set number of sessions each student is allowed at SCS, we do operate on a short-term therapy model. This means that your clinician will determine a plan of intervention specific to your needs, and establish a limited number for your sessions together. Some students are referred to a clinician in the community for more extended care.

If you have already attended a course of therapy here during your University career, and feel that it would be helpful to talk to someone again, please feel free to call the clinic and set up a "re-intake" appointment. Depending on your situation, you will either be given a referral to a clinician in the community, or be seen by a member of the SCS staff.

We will always see students in an emergency situation, regardless of the number of previous sessions they have attended.

Can SCS offer me long term treatment?

Because the demand for our services is so high, and because it is critical that we see students quickly, we are unable to provide long term psychotherapy.  If long term psychotherapy is recommended to you, an SCS clinician will work with you to help you find an off-campus provider.  Because psychiatric appointments typically occur less frequently than psychotherapy appointments, we are able to offer psychiatric (medication) services on a longer term basis.

What if I want to use my Student Health Insurance benefits for treatment outside of the counseling service?

The SCS serves as the "gatekeeper" for the University Health Insurance Plan. If you would like to see an outside clinician, you must make an appointment at SCS to obtain referral forms before meeting with your new clinician-if you do not get the forms before your visit, you will incur a penalty of $50 per appointment.

We refer students only to licensed clinicians (LCSW, Psychologist, LCPC, psychiatrist), and are unable to backdate referral forms. If you would like to be referred to more than one outside clinician for treatment, a separate referral form must be obtained for each.

For all other questions about the University Health Insurance Plan, please contact the On-Campus Insurance Coordinator for UnitedHeathcare StudentResources at (773) 834-4543 or studentinsurance@lists.uchicago.edu.

What if I am worried about a friend or family member?

Often it is helpful for students to share their worries about friends or family members, and we encourage you to make an appointment at SCS to do this. You will be able to speak confidentially with a counselor and receive advice about how to deal with your concerns about this person.