Q & A

What Services Are Offered?

Through Student Counseling students can receive free individual counseling, couples counseling, and psychiatric services. Students seek help for a variety of concerns, including depression and anxiety, stress and time management issues, difficulties in interpersonal relationships, and struggles with adjustment to the pressures of the academic environment.

Who Offers the Services?

 Holly Vanderhoff, PhD, and Michael Miller, PhD, both licensed clinical psychologists and members of the Department of Psychiatry faculty, co-direct the Student Counseling Service. Our Senior Counselor, Sipho Mbuqe, LMHC, Ph.D., is a licensed mental health counselor and holds a PhD in Clinical Psychology. Students also may see advanced residents in clinical psychology or psychiatry for services.

Who Is Eligible for Services?

Services are available to all full- and part-time matriculated students at Upstate Medical University. Residents, as employees of the University, are advised to contact the Employee Assistance Program (464-5760) for services/referrals.

Where Are the Services Offered?

Student Counseling is located on the 3rd floor of the Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences building (PBS) at 713 Harrison Street.

When Are the Services Offered?

Student Counseling is open from 8:30am to 4:30pm, Monday through Friday. Most counseling begins on a once-weekly basis. Please note that there is no formal 24-hour emergency service for Student Counseling. Each counselor makes individual arrangements with students for crisis coverage.

How Do I Make Appointments?

Initial appointments are made by contacting Student Counseling at scs@upstate.edu or by calling 464-3120. Typically initial appointments occur within seven business days of the request. Once counseling has begun, appointments are scheduled between the student and counselor.

How Long Do Appointments Last?

Initial consultation appointments last for about 45 minutes. Counseling appointments begin promptly on the hour and last about 45 minutes. If you arrive late to an appointment your counseling session may be shortened.

Are There Limitations to Services?

Student Counseling works from a short-term model of intervention and does not provide long-term treatment for specialized needs or severe mental illnesses. If you need long-term assistance for emotional problems, please contact Student Counseling for assistance with a referral. In addition, Student Counseling cannot provide:

  • mental health assessment or treatment services that are mandated by any professional, disciplinary, or legal entity
  • formal evaluations to document learning disabilities or mental health disabilities
  • notes to excuse students from classes or exams
  • services to students who are taking formal leaves of absence from the University

If you are seeking the above services, please contact Student Counseling for assistance with referrals to appropriate providers in the community.

What About Confidentiality?

Every aspect of your counseling is treated as confidential. Information cannot be disclosed to a faculty member, administrator, family member, or friend without your written permission. There are several exceptions to this rule in New York State, however. If a counselor believes that you present an imminent threat of harm to yourself or someone else, s/he must disclose this to the appropriate parties. If counselors become aware of child abuse, they are legally required to file a report. Counselors also must release confidential information when ordered to do so by a court of law.

Because Student Counseling is a health care service, information may be shared between Student Health and Student Counseling when medically necessary. Student Health is bound to the same rules of confidentiality as Student Counseling and never shares information with others without the student's written permission. Please see our Confidentiality page for more detailed information.

Residents who provide treatment to medical students and their faculty supervisors will never be placed in an evaluative role with that student in academic or professional settings.

Are Records Kept in Student Counseling?

Professional ethics and prudent health care practice dictate that all services be documented. Student Counseling records are brief and maintained securely in Student Counseling. Records are not accessible to faculty, administration, or other students.

What If I Am Not Happy with My Counselor?

It is important that the person you meet with be someone who is sensitive to your needs and situation. If you are not pleased with the help you are getting, please discuss this openly with your counselor. If you feel that the counselor is not addressing your concerns even after you have raised the relevant issues, you may pursue a change of counselor. Should you feel that your counselor has behaved unethically, please contact Drs.. Vanderhoff or Miller immediately.

Are There Any Fees for Services?

Student Counseling services are free of charge to students. Should a student require psychiatric medications, however, he/she is responsible for the cost of the medication. Students who require specialized psychological assessment (eg, diagnostic testing, disability documentation, etc.) or more intensive mental health services will be referred to another provider for these services and are responsible for the cost of such services.

Does Counseling Really Work?

A large volume of controlled outcome studies suggests that short-term counseling and psychotherapy are effective in reducing problems such as anxiety, depression, and interpersonal conflicts. Counseling can also be effective in teaching skills for better academic and social functioning. In addition, psychopharmacological interventions have been found to successfully treat a range of more significant emotional disorders.

When Should I Seek Counseling?

If you have tried unsuccessfully to address a problem on your own and if the problem is interfering with your emotional well-being or quality of life, you might want to consider counseling. Seeking help promptly may minimize adverse effects of current difficulties on your academic, professional, social, and physical functioning.

We encourage you to contact Student Counseling if you desire services, have a suggestion for us, or simply want more information. We look forward to serving you.