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.

Scheduling your First Appointment

  1. Call the Counseling Center at (949) 824-6457 or come in person and ask to make an “initial appointment”. The receptionist will assist you in finding the first available appointment that fits your schedule.

    If your situation requires immediate attention, you may request to see the urgent care therapist.

  2. Please arrive on time for your appointment in order to allow time to fill out the required forms. The forms take around 30 minutes and must be completed before you speak with your therapist. If you do not allow adequate time to complete them, the time you have to speak with the therapist may be reduced or your appointment may have to be rescheduled.

Initial Counseling Appointment

When you make that first contact, the receptionist will schedule an “Initial Appointment” for you. The receptionist will offer you the first available 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.

After your initial appointment

After your initial appointment you and your therapist will decide what services will be most helpful to you. These services may include individual or group therapy at the Counseling Center, or a referral to your medical insurance's behavioral health plan, and/or other campus and community resources.

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.

In case a referral to your medical insurance’s behavioral health plan is recommended, will be helpful for you to identify what kind of insurance you have before your initial appointment. You can contact the Student Health Center insurance office at (949) 824-2388 to check if you are enrolled in the University Student Health Insurance Plan (SHIP).

If you have any additional questions about the first appointment, please don’t hesitate to call our office at (949) 824-6457.

Helpful Information

What to Expect from Counseling (pdf)
Brief description of the counseling process

Group Services
Detailed description of groups offered at the Counseling Center