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  6. Scope of Practice

Scope of Practice


  1. Eligibility
  2. Students Under 18 years of age
  3. Summer Eligibility
  4. Student Withdrawals
  5. Services Provided by the Counseling Center
  6. Service Limitations
  7. Accommodations
  8. Mandated Counseling
  9. Current Clients who are graduating
  10. Partners of Union College Students
  11. Psychiatry Services

1.    Eligibility

Students must be currently enrolled at Union College in order to receive services at the Counseling Center. Support Staff must confirm that a student is currently enrolled prior to the student’s initial appointment. Exceptions might include seeing a student for as an introduction prior to a student’s enrollment or up to two sessions after their enrollment has expired to help refer them elsewhere or for a consultation in an emergency.

2.    Students under 18 years of age 

For students under the age of 18 years, we must have parental consent to treat.  Parents are typically asked to sign consent to treat, however, students under 18 may be seen for a one time crisis contact prior to obtaining consent.  While a student under age 18 can expect that we maintain their confidentiality, they need to be informed that their parent, guardian or custodian holds the legal right to request information concerning the student’s treatment.

3.     Summer Eligibility 

Students who completed courses in the previous Spring trimester and are enrolled for the following Fall trimester may begin treatment or continue to be seen during the intervening summer for therapy and psychiatry services (off campus psychiatry services are available during the summer – on campus is only available during the academic year).  All students who are enrolled in courses during the summer and or are conducting student research are eligible for summer services.  While you may be able to continue therapy, it may not be with your current therapist (due to reduced summer staff).

4.    Student withdrawals 

Students who have been receiving therapy or psychiatric services during a trimester and withdraw from school may be seen for assistance in finding continued treatment options.

5.    Services Provided by the Counseling Center

  • Free confidential counseling to matriculating students who are      enrolled at Union College.
  • Individual and group sessions utilizing Licensed Therapists,      Post-Doctoral Fellows, and supervised graduate interns.
  • Outreach (educational programs), consultation services (speaking with      someone about their concerns related to a student or friend), and educational      materials.

6.    Service Limitations 

The Counseling Center strives to facilitate the total development of students by reducing psychological problems and distress and by enhancing mental health, well-being, quality of life, and supporting aspirations for optimal functioning.  Our primary focus is on providing brief, confidential counseling aimed at helping students succeed academically and interpersonally.   When students require mental health services that are beyond the role and scope of the Counseling Center, we will make appropriate referrals to off-campus and community resources.

To assist in promoting high quality clinical decisions and dispositions, the following considerations are proposed for determining which students may not be appropriate for counseling services at the Counseling Center.  The professional judgment of mental health providers will govern the determination in a particular case.  This document reflects general guidelines and is intended only as a guide to assist evaluation.  Each case must be specifically evaluated in accordance with professional standards and failure to follow this guide does not evidence breach of professional standards or duties in any particular case.

In general, students with the following concerns and characteristics will likely need a higher level of care than what is within the role and scope of the Counseling Center:

  • Risk of self-harm or harm to others that cannot be altered by the level of services that can reasonably be provided by the Counseling Center on a timely basis (considering the Counseling Center resources and level of student psychological/ psychiatric status), including outpatient counseling and psychiatric care,  and/or outpatient crisis interventions, or is not improved with hospitalization (e.g. the student indicates lack of confidence that he/she can stay safe or a safety plan cannot be established, required multiple hospitalizations, unable to stabilize as outpatient)
  • Chronic, severe self-injury/mutilation (e.g. the student presents with history of self-injury that has required medical attention and the self-injury is still occurring)
  • Chronic, substantial risk of self-harm or harm to others, or evidence of progressive deterioration, as evidenced by one or more suicide attempts or one or more psychiatric hospitalizations and indication of current relevancy
  • Evidence or risk of progressive deterioration in mental or emotional functioning, requiring intensive intervention (e.g., eating disorders where weekly treatment is not sufficient, or any services in which the Counseling Center would need to be the primary coordinator for extensive external or multi-agency case management)
  • History of treatment that is beyond the resources of the Counseling Center and evidence that the need for the previous level of care continues or is likely to be needed (e.g. need for frequent consultation after hours or meeting more than once a week)
  • A need for medical detoxification and/or medical stabilization
  • A history of non-cooperation with treatment
  • Coming to the Counseling Center primarily because of external pressures, such as disciplinary (unless mandate for treatment by Residence Life or the Dean of Students Office) or law enforcement actions (e.g., assessments/evaluations to be used in court proceedings or other, any court-ordered proceedings)

7.    Accommodations

  • All accommodations requests for the living and learning environment (extra time, test accommodations, therapy animals) should go through the Director of Student Support Services.  The Counseling Center clinicians will not provide letters or documentation.  These letters must be provided by an outside source.

8.    Mandated Counseling

The Counseling Center does not provide mandated counseling services with the exception of several “assessment-based” services that have been designed specifically as a resource to the student conduct process and to the assurance of safety. Some of the reasons for this policy include:

  • Mandated counseling places the Counseling Center in an unproductive,      punitive role (and potentially injures our reputation as a helpful      resource in the campus community),
  • Mandated counseling is inconsistent with professional standards and      ethics of emotional health professionals,
  • Making counseling a condition of something has the potential to      undermine any benefit that could have come from counseling otherwise,
  • Mandated counseling has shown little efficacy (and therefore is not an      effective use of time/resources for any involved parties)

9.    Current clients who are graduating 

The Counseling Center staff will work with students post-graduation for up to two sessions to assist in the transition to the next treatment provider for service.

10. Partners of Union College students

Partners of Union College students may not be seen at the Counseling Center.  If a current student is interested in couples counseling with a non-student partner, an appropriate community referral will be provided.  If both potential clients are Union College students, couples counseling will be provided at the Counseling Center.

11. Psychiatry Services

The Union College Counseling Center collaborates with Health Services to assist students in maintaining their medicinal needs.