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Frequently asked questions

Are you considering coming to the Counseling Center? Find the answers to some of the more frequently asked questions. If you have additional questions or need more information, please contact us at counseling.center@dsu.edu or (605) 256-5121 and we are happy to try to answer any additional questions you may have.

Students come to the Counseling Center with a wide range of presenting concerns. Students may want to talk about normal developmental issues, such as identity, academic stress, or relationship concerns. Other students might be dealing with more specific concerns, such as depression, anxiety, sleep disruption, body and eating concerns, trauma and post-traumatic stress symptoms, substance abuse, grief, or suicidal thoughts. Other times, students are not sure what brings them into counseling, except that they have not been feeling like themselves, or might notice having difficulty keeping up academically or having trouble sleeping. A therapist can help identify the concern and provide ways of coping and increase self-awareness.

Sometimes it might not be clear where to start or what to talk about. Before starting therapy, you might have certain ideas or expectations for how to be in therapy, such as not agreeing with the therapist or not asking many questions. Below are a few things that might be helpful to get the most out of your therapy.

  • Do not pretend to be okay. It is okay to talk about things that feel embarrassing or scary
  • Regularly attend your sessions and take an active part in them
  • Be prepared for each session and be ready to focus on a problem or issue
  • Work collaboratively with your counselor and be willing to explore new behaviors both within and outside the sessions
  • Be open and honest with your counselor about how the sessions are going for you, particularly if you do not think you are being helped
  • Ask questions. If your therapist is talking about something you do not understand, or you feel uncertain about a particular suggestion, ask questions

The Counseling Center follows the professional, legal, and ethical guidelines of the American Counseling Association Code of Ethics and Standards of Practice and the state of South Dakota. This means that information about your counseling sessions or what is discussed in the session is not shared with anyone without expressed written permission. Counseling records are not kept as part of your academic record. There are some exceptions to confidentiality. If there is the possibility of harm to the client or another person, or in cases of child or elder abuse, Counseling Center staff are mandated to report certain information to the appropriate authorities. Your therapist will review confidentiality with you at the outset of treatment and answer any questions you may have.

You will be asked to complete online paperwork prior to your appointment. When you meet with the counselor, initially the goal is to get to know you and what you are dealing with. You do not need to pretend to be okay or that everything is “fine.” It is okay to be upset or bothered by things going on in your life or the experiences you are having. During this session, confidentiality will also be discussed.

The Counseling Center uses a goal-focused, brief treatment model and does not have an explicit session limit for individual therapy. Goal-focused, brief therapy means that the therapists here help students to address their immediate concerns using culturally responsive care. Session frequency varies depending on the Center’s demand and the needs of the individual. Many students report feeling better after a handful of sessions, while other students might be seen longer. You and your therapist will discuss the course and length of treatment throughout your care.

No. Unlike friends and family members, a therapist does not have a personal relationship with you which allows them to be more objective. The focus of the discussion is around you, versus what other people want for you. Therapy can feel like a casual conversation; however, therapists have the training to encourage reflection on experiences and how your mindset shapes your current situation. You may discover connections and explore ideas and options for resolution or solutions.

People often visit doctors when they are not actually sick — they might want a checkup or procedures/tests to ensure they stay healthy. Counseling is not exclusively for people with identified mental wellness issues. Counseling can be used for a mental wellness “checkup” as well as to address situational stressors and stressors related to life changes and/or navigating relationships.

Most students who seek services at the DSU (Dakota State University) Counseling Center are seen at the Counseling Center. Some students may be referred to off-campus practitioners when exhibiting a need for specialized treatment (i.e., medication) more intensive than what can be provided on campus.

In the case that a student has an urgent need or is in an emergency, students may come directly to the Counseling Center to meet with a therapist for brief counseling and stabilization during office hours. Please indicate the urgency of the situation and briefly describe what you are experiencing to receive the fastest attention possible. If you have a mental health-related emergency outside of Counseling Center’s regular business hours, please call 9-1-1 immediately.

Additionally, you may receive 24/7 Crisis Support as follows:

  • National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: call or text 9-8-8
  • Veterans Crisis Hotline: call or text 9-8-8 then press 1
  • Crisis Text Line: text HOME to 741741
  • Trevor Project 24/7 Line: (866) 488-7386 or Trevor Text: text START to 678-678
  • National Sexual Assault Hotline: 1 (800) 656-HOPE (4673)

An emergency/crisis experience is individually based, depending on what it feels like for you based on your “normal.” We encourage students to contact us or come in for an emergency/crisis session if they feel it is indeed one. We prefer to see you, and please know that you will be seen as soon as a therapist becomes available. Some examples of a need for an emergency/crisis counseling session, include:

  • Imminent suicidal thought and/or a plan
  • Imminent homicidal thoughts
  • Severely losing emotional control
  • Gross impairment in thinking ability
  • Exhibiting bizarre behavior
  • Experienced a recent trauma

Most of the time, students feel connected with their therapist. There are times, however, when it may just not feel like a good fit. Although it might feel hard, we believe it is best to speak directly with your therapist and let them know you would like to change therapists. We do not get angry or offended when students want to change therapists, though we do find it is helpful to talk about the reasons you want to change to figure out how to best suit your needs. If that feels too hard, let our administrative staff know to proceed.

The Counseling Center is located in the Learning Engagement Center. The center is open from 8:00 am – 5:00 pm Monday through Friday during the academic year and available by appointment only during the summer hours.

Counseling services are available to enroll, degree-seeking Dakota State University students. Referral assistance and third-party consultations regarding students of concern are available to all members of the broader Dakota State University community.

*Currently counselors are only licensed to provide therapy services in South Dakota. Online students residing outside of South Dakota are encouraged to reach out to counseling.center@dsu.edu to determine eligibility for services.

Students can schedule an appointment by logging on to Trojan Connect and scheduling with the Counseling Center. Students may also email counseling.center@dsu.edu or call 605-256-5121 for assistance. All students coming to the Counseling Center for the first time are asked to fill out a few minutes’ worth of paperwork, including a brief self-report measure. This measure helps us know a bit more about your difficulties.

The student must call to make the appointment. Appointments cannot be made on a student's behalf.

The Counseling Center is available for consultation to anyone (faculty, staff, family member, or student) who is concerned about the safety or well-being of a Dakota State University student. Please stop by the office, call, or email with the concern. If the situation is a safety-related emergency during office hours, please call (605) 256-5121 so we can provide a timely response. For safety-related emergencies after business hours, please call 9-1-1.

All students are welcome to visit the Student Health and Counseling Center during business hours to pick up information focused on a variety of health and mental health topics. Additionally, the DSU community is encouraged to visit our Mental Health Collection on the first floor of the Karl Mundt Library and online.