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American University

AU Arboretum

American University is an independent coeducational university with more than 13,000 students enrolled in undergraduate, masters, doctoral, and professional degree programs. On an 84-acre residential campus in a quiet neighborhood in upper northwest Washington, D.C., the university attracts students from all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and the territories, and nearly 150 foreign countries. Apart from, yet a part of the city, American University is a short distance from Washington's centers of government, business, research, commerce, and art. Major city bus routes and a campus shuttle to a nearby subway stop serve the university.

The Counseling Center

Simulated counseling session in counseling center office.

The Counseling Center is American University's primary counseling facility. It is an ideal setting for interns to gain experience working with a wide variety of presenting concerns and broad range of diagnoses. The top four self-reported reasons for seeking counseling reveal typical issues addressed at the Center: stress, anxiety, depression and relationships/identity concerns. Other presenting issues include history of trauma including sexual abuse/assault, suicidal ideation, eating disorders and related concerns, drug and alcohol use/abuse, grief/loss and academic concerns.

The Center provides a variety of services to students including crisis intervention, ongoing counseling/psychotherapy, workshops and therapy/support groups. The student population also offers the opportunity to work with clients from diverse cultural and ethnic backgrounds.

The mission of the Counseling Center is to promote students' educational success by supporting their intellectual, emotional and social development. The Center operates from a developmental approach that recognizes that we must address the needs of the whole student body-- all the students, including but not limited to those in need of formal psychological diagnosis, treatment, and/or crisis intervention. A developmental approach also emphasizes the importance of addressing the needs of the whole student -- we must recognize the ongoing and multi-faceted nature of the student's life and the interdependence of the students' emotional, social and academic concerns.

Furthermore, a developmental approach recognizes that adolescents need support and guidance as they navigate their way into adulthood and encounter new challenges -- many of them crucial, life-defining challenges - in areas such as self-identity definition, social and sexual activity, substance use/abuse and other health/safety issues, spiritual commitment, career decisions, emotional self-understanding and self-management, cognitive/intellectual/academic functioning, interpersonal relationships, and an understanding of themselves in relation to their family, peer groups, and culture. Whatever the particular service or activity we provide -- a crisis intervention, an ongoing counseling relationship, an interactive one-session workshop, a time-limited therapy/support group -- we strive to recognize our students as developing human beings and to nurture their growth and learning.

In working from a developmental approach, the Center staff use a variety of theoretical orientations but shared amongst the staff is an interest and dedication to the training of professionals in the use of psychodynamic therapy. This is the primary theoretical orientation of the internship program.

The Center is staffed by nine psychologists and several adjunct consulting professionals. Clinical staff members are currently licensed or license-eligible in D.C. and are actively involved in professional organizations. Many of the staff have pursued advanced training.

Diversity Statement

The American University Counseling Center is committed to:

  • providing culturally competent services

  • celebrating diversity in all its forms and expressions.

  • providing culturally sensitive and affirming services for all students regardless of race, ethnicity, country of origin/nationality, gender, gender identity, gender expression, sexual orientation, age, socioeconomic status, religious/spiritual beliefs, learning differences, and physical ability.

  • providing a safe and respectful environment to explore and discuss experiences of prejudice, discrimination, and oppression.

  • supporting students as they work to understand and integrate the various aspects of their identity.

  • preparing students for lifelong learning and global citizenship.As staff, we hold ourselves and our trainees to these standards of inclusion and affirmation.

We are committed to engaging in a deportment of ongoing self-awareness, openness to learning, and demonstration of evolving skill in working from a culturally competent framework.