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Who We See and Why

Student mental health is the priority of EMU’s counseling center. We seek to serve EMU students with the resources available to us, including knowledge, skills and staffing available to us. We are committed to student care and will provide outside referral options if necessary to provide the best student care available.

Faculty and staff who wish to access counseling services for themselves should use EMU's Employee Assistance Program (EAP).

Accessing Services

All fully enrolled EMU students at the Harrisonburg, VA campus are eligible for an initial assessment (IA) or walk-in session with recommendations. To speak with a counselor about personal or life issues you are currently facing you can schedule an initial assessment (IA) or utilize walk-in hours. Initial Assessments are scheduled during open hours of Monday-Friday, 9 a.m.-5 p.m.. Walk-in Hours are Monday-Friday 1-2 p.m.. To schedule an appointment you can email counselingservices@emu.edu OR speak with the Counseling Center Front Desk Attendant. For more information visit our What to Expect page.

When appropriate, students may be recommended to have short term services offered within the campus counseling center.  Services include: Individual Counseling, Group Counseling, or Workshops. Due to the high demand for our services and the limits of working in the college calendar year, the EMU Counseling Center operates according to a short-term treatment model in which the student and the counselor collaboratively identify and address the student’s primary concerns within a limited number of sessions.  Consistent with the national average at university counseling centers, students typically average 3-5 sessions during a course of individual counseling. To best address student needs our counselors will typically meet with students throughout the duration of the semester (weekly to bi-weekly) or school year. For best practices and adequate time to address student needs, the EMU Counseling Center will limit individual sessions for new intake appointments after the first full week of the last month in the semester. These individuals will be referred to a community provider to fulfill their request for services. Common presenting concerns addressed in the EMU Counseling Center include:

  • Generalized and social anxiety
  • Mild to moderate depression
  • Relationship issues (romantic relationship difficulties, roommate problems, family issues, loneliness, anger, guilt)
  • Academic concerns (performance anxiety, perfectionism, underachievement, low motivation)
  • Developmental issues (adjustment to college, life transitions, spiritual concerns, identity development (including transgender))
  • Low self-esteem and self-confidence
  • Grief and loss
  • Body image and mild to moderate eating and exercise concerns
  • Uncomplicated trauma (i.e. trauma confined to a single traumatic incident in adulthood)

Issues Commonly Referred to Community Resources

Students whose needs cannot be accommodated through short-term services or who require a particular type of expertise not found in the EMU Counseling Center are provided with a referral to a community provider. Our counselors provide referral services during the initial appointment, walk-in session, or as these factors become apparent during the course of services.  To assist in promoting high quality clinical care decisions, the following are considered in determining when services outside of the EMU Counseling Center may be a better fit for a student’s needs:

  • A desire or apparent need to be seen more than once a week or for long-term therapy
  • Absence of requisite coping mechanisms to manage reactions to normal daily stressors in appropriate ways
  • Presence of multiple and/or chronic issues that significantly impact mental or emotional functioning
  • Inability or unwillingness to provide the necessary information to thoroughly assess symptoms
  • Chronic suicidality and/or self-injury behaviors; history of repeated suicide attempts and/or hospitalizations
  • Psychotic Symptoms
  • Students who are exclusively interested in psychiatric services (i.e. the provision of psychotropic medication) and are not seeking concurrent counseling assistance
  • Students who need specialized services NOT available through the EMU Counseling Center as indicated by:
    • Presence of a significant or long-standing eating disorder
    • Presence of significant drug and/or alcohol problems
    • Requests for medication to address issues of attention/focus and hyperactivity
    • Request for psychological evaluation to assess for the presence of learning disorders, to grant housing accommodations (e.g. single room, emotional support animal), or for the purpose of employment clearance or other nonacademic purpose
    • Services to fulfill requirements for pre-adjudication and/or court-mandated mental health treatment or assessment.

The general guidelines listed above are only intended to serve as a guide. The nature and complexity of presenting concerns and the broader context are considered in making the appropriate treatment recommendation(s).

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