Coming to counseling can be a big decision and can feel like an overwhelming task. Here are the answers to some of the more commonly asked questions by students considering coming to PACS.
Most currently enrolled UNH students pay the Health Services fee and are therefore eligible to receive a first appointment (“initial consultaiton”) but there are some exceptions. Undergraduate and graduate students who are taking fewer than 5 credits in the semester they seek treatment cannot receive PACS services but can obtain a referral for off campus providers by calling us at 603-862-2090.
No. You do not have to use your health insurance, all services are free.
All PACS services are confidential and any PACS documents are not part of your academic record. However, there are some instances in which students sign a consent form for counselors to contact faculty members, PACS staff, past and future counselors; and/or family members. PACS will NOT contact anyone about your treatment without your consent unless you are a danger to yourself or others.
Yes, PACS is located on the 3rd Floor of Smith Hall at 3 Garrison Avenue on the corner of Main Street. There is an elevator to get to the third floor (and then fourth floor with PACS staff assistance) as well as an accessible restroom on the first floor.
If you are in crisis during PACS open hours (Monday, Thursday, Friday 8AM-5PM and Tuesday & Wednesday 8AM-8PM during academic year) and you need to see a counselor right away, please let our receptionist know this and they will schedule you for one of our same-day urgent walk-in appointments or she will have our on-call counselor phone you.
If you call in crisis when PACS is closed, please follow the prompts on the message for you to connect with emergency services by phone.
You can call 603-862-2090/TTY: 7-1-1 or 800-735-2964 (Relay NH) or visit PACS (Smith Hall, 3 Garrison Avenue, Room 306) during our open hours (Monday, Thursday, Friday 8AM-5PM and Tuesday & Wednesday 8AM-8PM) and speak to the receptionist who will ask you for your name and phone number, and together you will schedule an initial consultation appointment with one of our counselors. Upon arrival, you will be asked to complete an online survey to help us understand what may be concerning you prior to coming in for your 30-minute appointment. In addition, we ask that you arrive about 15 minutes early for your intake so you may review our consent form and complete additional paperwork.
During this appointment, a counselor will collect some preliminary information about you and your concerns. You and the counselor will decide on ways to address your stressors and build upon your strengths. This may involve individual, couples or group counseling; learning disorder assessment; referral to our consulting psychiatrist; or, perhaps, referral to a clinician outside the agency.
If you are referred for individual counseling with a counselor at PACS, you will be contacted with an appointment time and date. This counselor, who will be your ongoing counselor, may or may not be the same person whom you saw at the initial consultation. Within the first several sessions, you and your counselor will set goals for your work together. At PACS, we provide short-term planned therapy.
The number of sessions you receive is connected to several issues. PACS provides planned short-term therapy that is somewhat structured and focused mostly on present concerns. Counselor will discuss referral options with individuals who can benefit from longer-term individual treatment and provide them with the contact information of off-campus providers who match their preferences, take their health insurance and are physically accessible. When students wish to begin longer term counseling as soon as possible, individuals are provided with these referrals during the intake.
We try our best to honor students’ preferences. However this becomes difficult during busy times of the semester when counselors’ schedules become less flexible. Under those circumstances, students are provided with a referral to another PACS clinician or an off-campus counselor.
It is rare that an individual is in therapy for her/his entire life. In fact, some people improve some aspect of their problems within several sessions. Research has shown (Minami, 2009) that short-term counseling has been effective for college students.
The counselor’s role is to not “fix” problems or solve them for you. Instead, they are trained professionals who help you to identify, explore, and further understand possible causes of and ways to cope with your stressors.
Successful counseling is related to several factors. Consistently attending your scheduled sessions on time is important as is being open with your counselor. If you are feeling dissatisfied with the progress you are making in treatment, speak to your counselor so that they can discuss the barriers to addressing your goals, and help you to gain more from your counseling experience.
No, PACS also offers psychiatric and group counseling services. Your counselor may refer you to the PACS psychiatrist to more fully understand your distress. Students have to be regularly meeting with a counselor in order to see the PACS psychiatrist.
As well, PACS provides group counseling services. Group counseling can be a really helpful way to discuss issues that are hard to talk about with friends, family or professors. You can also receive support from peers and learn how to relate to them in different ways; gain knowledge about yourself and your relationships with others; as well as develop new skills for coping with difficult situations, thoughts and feelings. At PACS, groups usually meet weekly for several weeks. Typically, there are five to ten students in each group. The group facilitators are trained and experienced counselors who provide a safe space in which members can share their experiences and provide feedback to others. Disrespectful language or behavior is not permitted. To learn about which groups will be offered this semester, please call us at 603-862-2090 or check out the services page of our website. To join a group, please call and you will have a screening with a counselor to determine if a group can be helpful to you at this time.
PACS also provides couples counseling on a limited basis. One member of the couple must be an UNH student who is eligible to receive counseling services.
Yes, the first step is to request a first appointment. The information gathered during the initial consultation may indicate that counseling and/or testing for a LD would helpful. Our resources are limited so we do not provide screenings or testing for a diagnosis of a learning disability or ADD/ADHD, and we do not perform neuropsychological testing. However, we do provide counseling and off-campus referrals for testing to assist students with learning or attention concerns in succeeding academically and socially.
Generally, students have to make their own appointments, but you can call PACS to receive consultation about helping your friend; inform them about the services that we offer; and/or accompany your friend to make an appointment. If your friend is in crisis, encourage them to receive help immediately by call or visiting PACS. If s/he requires medical assistance, visiting Health and Wellness or the nearest hospital is recommended.