Frequently Asked Questions

What is counseling?
Is counseling just for “crazy” people?
How do I make an appointment?
What is the cost?
What can I expect from my counselor?
Is what I talk about kept confidential?
What can I expect from my first appointment?
What is group counseling?
What kind of time commitment does counseling require?

What is Counseling?

Counseling (or therapy) is a safe relationship of trust, respect, and confidence in which the person seeking help learns to explore oneself and his/her own abilities to cope with life experiences more effectively. The fundamental belief in counseling is that individuals have worth, dignity, and the capacity to solve their own problems when they understand themselves and their choices and potential outcomes. Also, counseling can do more than help people solve problems. One may use it to help in her or his own personal growth and development.

Is counseling just for “crazy” people?

Absolutely not! Counseling is for people with significant mental health concerns, as well as for people with normal developmental concerns. Many students at some time have problems adapting to new situations and changes taking place within them. Normal developmental concerns and academic pressures while at Simpson might lead them to feel intense anxiety, anger, sadness or depression. Very often these concerns can be worked out alone or with a friend.

Occasionally, however, because of the nature or magnitude of the personal concern, getting help may be desirable. People come to counseling wanting to feel better about themselves and others, and counselors are trained to assist people with personal growth, with awareness of self and environment, and with developing the skills they need to cope with problem situations. We believe students are demonstrating courage and wisdom by seeking another objective perspective through the utilization of counseling services.

How do I make an appointment?

Stop by Counseling Services in the Campus Services Building and speak to Ellie Olson, Katy Griner or Kari Uhl. You may also contact Counseling Services to schedule an appointment by calling (515) 961-1556 or by emailing your appointment request to Counseling Services.  During busy times of the year, there may be a wait of several days before an initial appointment can be attended. However, if something is really urgent, please contact us immediately and we will arrange to see you. We maintain office hours weekdays from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

What is the cost?

There is no fee for currently enrolled Simpson students.

What can I expect from my counselor?

Counseling staff members are professionally trained in mental health fields. They have experience working with a diversity of students and issues. Because counselors have different beliefs about how people change, they differ on how much talking they do in sessions, whether they ask you to do any homework, and their focus of discussion. You can expect they:

  • Will maintain the highest ethical and legal standards of confidentiality.
  • Are interested in listening to your concerns and open to discussing them.
  • Will take you seriously and answer questions about the therapeutic relationship.
  • Are interested in helping you discover a better understanding of concerns.

Is what I talk about kept confidential?

Generally, all information you share with your counselor is kept confidential and cannot be shared with family members, friends or other employees of the college unless your permission is granted in writing. If there is concern that an individual may be a serious threat to the safety of themselves or others, confidentiality can be broken. In addition, if a counselor becomes aware of any abuse committed against a minor or and elder, the counselor is mandated by law to report that abuse. Finally, in rare occasions, if records are subpoenaed by the court confidentiality may be broken. It should be noted that the situations listed above happen in only a very rare number of cases.

What can I expect from my first appointment?

Counseling typically begins with brief confidential paperwork that allows you to share some information that will help the counselor guide your intake session. This initial session allows you and your counselor to discuss and assess your concerns and goals. At this time, it is also decided together whether group or individual counseling or outside referral best fits your needs.

What is group counseling?

Therapy Groups are a form of psychotherapy, focusing on developing insight and behavior change. Five to eight group members meet with one or two group therapists once per week for an hour to an hour and a half throughout the semester. Once a group forms, it is closed to new referrals for that semester. During group sessions, members discuss issues concerning them and offer support and feedback to one another. Personal growth stemming from these interactions is essential to the group process. Group members are committed to learning about themselves and their relationships.

What kind of time commitment does counseling require?

For individual counseling, you will typically meet with a counselor once a week for 50 minutes. If you take part in group counseling, groups will meet once a week for an hour to an hour and a half. The length of time needed to help make the desired progress will depend primarily upon the nature of your issues and the efforts you put into their solutions, both in and out of sessions. At Simpson, typically 3 to 12 sessions is sufficient. If the need arises for longer treatment, we will work together to refer you to the appropriate services.