What is counseling?

Counseling is the process of speaking with a mental health professional about your problems or concerns. The mental health professional listens with an objective ear and helps you learn more about yourself, and new ways of looking at situations. This process can help you feel more capable of identifying and solving problems on your own. The primary goal is to help you develop the skills and abilities to solve problems as they arise, in order to make the most of your academic experience.
When should I contact The Counseling Center?

Many students decide to pursue counseling. It doesn’t mean you aren’t “normal.” It is not a sign of weakness but of strength – if you initiate counseling, it is evidence that you are taking charge of your own wellbeing. Many students have found Counseling to be helpful when they are having trouble functioning here at Pratt. Some common reasons for seeing a staff therapist include relationship problems, depression, anxiety, academic worries, and family difficulties.

You may benefit from two or three sessions to address a specific area of concern, or you may find it helpful to use more sessions to address concerns that warrant more attention. Our service offers short-term counseling but referrals are often made for students who wish to consider longer-term counseling or psychotherapy.

What should I expect from my Counselor?

Your counselor is a licensed mental health professional (clinical social worker, psychologist) who is trained to help you identify and begin to resolve the issues and problems that are of concern to you. It is perfectly common and understandable to have some anxiety about seeing a counselor - your counselor will establish a safe and structured environment in which you can feel comfortable discussing your thoughts and feelings. The approach is non-judgmental and collaborative. Counselors help clarify options, provide support and understanding, assist with setting goals, explore feelings and correct misconceptions.

What if I tried counseling before and I didn't have a positive experience?

Sometimes your initial experience with counseling doesn't go as you thought or hoped it would, which can be disappointing or discouraging.  There are multiple reasons this might be the case: talking about painful thoughts and feelings can be difficult; counseling may not offer the immediate relief you expected; and sometimes it takes more time to better understand and work on your difficulties. 

The Counseling Center is happy to talk to you about your experience and welcomes your feedback, so if you feel that a previous experience with counseling/therapy was dissatisfactory, we encourage you to let us know and give counseling another try.

WHEN IS PSYCHOTROPIC MEDICATION USEFUL?

Medication for mental disorders can be helpful when a student's mood or thoughts seem to be getting in the way of work or the ability to sustain a meaningful social life. Although many students are opposed to taking medication, there are conditions that can be significantly improved through its use. Psychiatrists and psychiatric nurse-practitioners are specially trained to perform medication evaluations so we highly recommend utilizing their expertise. If you are in need of medication for the first time or require a reevaluation of current medications, then we can provide referrals to a psychiatrist or psychiatric nurse-practitioner. If you have been doing well on a prescription from your hometown psychiatrist and need a new one while you are at Pratt, one of the prescribing providers can help with new prescriptions for a previous medication. Please have a copy of your medical records including information related to your prescription in your Pratt medical file.

WHAT IF MY PROBLEM IS WITH ALCOHOL OR ILLEGAL DRUGS?

Some students find out too late that what began as recreational drug use has become a habit that is definitely getting in the way of personal self-fulfillment. Alcohol or other substances are also used by some students as a form of self-medication to make themselves feel better. We can help by re-evaluating the situation and finding a student healthier coping skills or appropriate medication. We can also make referrals to treatment locations and provide support to the student who is entering a substance abuse program. As always, counseling is confidential and the existence of a substance abuse problem will not be shared with any academic office.

WHAT IF I JUST CAN'T FUNCTION AT ALL THIS SEMESTER?

Occasionally, psychological problems prevent a student from being able to complete a semester's work. A serious depressive episode is a common reason to temporarily suspend study. In this situation, the counseling office can help the student arrange a medical leave until the student is ready and able to continue at Pratt.

WHAT IS A PSYCHIATRIC EMERGENCY AND WHAT DO I DO?

A psychiatric emergency occurs when someone's mental health condition deteriorates to the point that they are unable to function and/or is a threat to their safety or the safety of others. This decline may be caused by a reaction to overwhelmingly bad news, a drug or alcohol overdose, a medication problem, or an acute mental condition. This may happen when someone threatens to commit suicide, or does not seem to be fully in control of their mental faculties.

In the case of a psychiatric emergency, you should contact The Counseling Center at 718.687.5356 for assistance. If The Counseling Center is closed, please call 911 or Campus Security at 718.636.3540. If you are a student living in an on-campus residence hall, the RA or RD on duty may also provide assistance during a psychiatric emergency.

Will my professors or family members find out that I am seeing a Counselor?

Absolutely not.

Counseling records are not part of your academic record. The counseling process is confidential and your counselor will strictly maintain that confidentially. Some exceptions to confidentiality do apply. Your counselor may need to share information in the event of a psychological emergency requiring hospitalization or in circumstances involving your safety or the safety of others. When these exceptions occur, you will be informed.

How do I make an appointment?

You can call to make an appointment at 718.687.5356 or you can come to The Counseling Center in the ICS Building to schedule an appointment with the Admin.