You are here: Getting Started

Your initial consultation meeting is a time for you to speak with a clinician about the situation and feelings that brought you to the Center. There are two options for attending an initial consultation meeting. You can schedule an initial consultation meeting with a clinician by calling the Counseling Center at 202-885-3500 or stopping by to schedule this appointment. Alternatively, you can come in to the Counseling Center between 2:00 and 4:00pm Monday through Friday and meet with a clinician. These drop-in appointments are brief (10-15 minutes) and are helpful to students who need a quick consultation, a referral to campus resources or community mental health providers, or help with an urgent concern. After completing paperwork, the clinician you meet with will help you sort out your concerns, gather some background information, and discuss with you your options for obtaining further assistance. If needed, your initial consultation clinician may schedule an additional appointment to further clarify your concerns and possible courses of action. Some students find that they need only one or two sessions to help them feel "back on track." With your permission, a graduate clinician-in-training at the Center may also participate in your initial meeting.

Based on what you discuss in your initial meeting, you and your clinician will consider your options for further assistance. Options include seeking private psychotherapy off campus (in which case your clinician will help you find an appropriate, affordable, accessible therapist); consulting with a different office on campus (such as the Career Center or the Academic Support and Access Center); or participating in a therapy/support group or short-term individual therapy sessions here at the Center.

At certain times of the year, there may be a wait for individual therapy sessions at the Center. During these times, your clinician will talk with you about whether it is advisable to wait for services at the Center or seek immediate assistance through a referral to a community mental health provider. Your clinician may also suggest a community mental health provider if your concerns would be best addressed by a clinician who can offer long-term or specialized mental health treatment.

Students can arrange to see a clinician on an emergency basis during weekday business hours by calling 202-885-3500. Urgent Care Drop-In Hours are available the same day (M-F between 2-4 PM), while non-emergency appointments are generally available within a few days to a week.

After hours, a Counseling Center clinician can be paged for an emergency consultation by contacting AU Public Safety or a member of the Housing and Dining Services staff. When a crisis occurs that affects the community or a group of community members, Counseling Center clinicians will facilitate crisis-response meetings and consult with students, families, faculty, and staff. After-hours personal crisis support is also available from several 24/7 Hotlines listed below.

For urgent mental health questions or concerns after hours, students may also call the Collegiate Assistance Program at 1-855-678-8679 PIN: 1009. The Collegiate Assistance Program is staffed by Licensed Clinicians and Registered Nurses. When you speak with one of these staff members, they will assess your symptoms and help you determine what type of support is needed. For example, they can help you determine whether you need immediate care or if you can wait to see a professional the next business day. In situations where you can wait to see a professional, the staff can often provide strategies for coping to help you feel less distressed until you can be seen in-person.

IN CASE OF EMERGENCY: In any on-campus emergency which represents a threat to safety or life, call AU PUBLIC SAFETY at x3636. For off-campus emergencies which represent a threat to safety or life, call your local emergency response services, dial 911, or proceed to the nearest hospital Emergency Room.

Local Hospitals

Sibley Hospital

Suburban Hospital

Georgetown University Hospital

George Washington University Hospital

Howard University Hospital

Psychiatric Institute of Washington


Crisis Helplines

Collegiate Assistance Program: 1-855-678-8679 PIN: 1009

AIDS Hotline: 202-332-AIDS (2437)

Alcohol and Drug Helpline: 1-800-821-HELP (4357)

Childhelp National Child Abuse Hotline: 1-800-4-A-CHILD (422-4453)

DC Department of Mental Health Crisis Hotline: 1-888-793-4357

DC Rape Crisis Center Hotline: 202-333-7273

Grief Recovery Helpline: 1-800-445-4808

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-TALK (8255)

Suicide Prevention Hotline: 1-800-784-2433

Confidentiality

Counseling often involves the discussion of sensitive personal information. It is important that you feel safe in your discussions with a clinician, and that your privacy is respected and protected.

The confidentiality of information you share with a Center clinician is protected by professional ethical standards as well as by state law. The primary governing regulation is the District of Columbia Mental Health Information Act. Other professional guidelines include the American Psychological Association Ethical Principles of Psychologists and Code of Ethics, the National Association of Social Workers Code of Ethics, and the American Psychiatric Association Principles of Medical Ethics.

The Center will not disclose your status as a client or release any information related to your counseling to anyone outside the Center without your written permission. This includes responding to inquiries from parents, friends, professors, advisors, etc. There are a few very rare exceptions to confidentiality which you should know about:

1) The law allows for confidential information to be shared as necessary under the following circumstances:

  • to prevent you from injuring yourself or someone else
  • to halt or prevent child abuse or abuse of an incapacitated adult, or
  • when required by a court of law:
  1. for a criminal case in which you are charged with killing or injuring another
  2. for criminal proceedings in which you raise an insanity defense or such defense is raised on your behalf, or
  3. civil proceedings in which you have raised your mental or emotional condition as an aspect of a claim.


**Should such rare circumstance occur, we will discuss with you whenever possible any action that is being considered (although we are not legally obligated to do so) and we will release only the minimum information required by the circumstances.**

2) Clinicians may obtain necessary and confidential consultation or supervision with other mental health professionals to ensure the quality of your care.

3) Minor students under the age of 18 who voluntarily seek treatment in their best interests are generally afforded the same confidentiality protection as an adult student, but there are some limitations which a clinician will be happy to discuss with you. These limitations should not keep you from seeking help. Call and consult with a clinician about your confidentiality concerns.


If you have any questions, or your would like to learn more about confidentiality, call x3500 and ask to speak with a Counseling Center clinician.