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Frequently Asked Questions

What type of problems can we help you with?

The UAB Counselor Education Community Clinic staff provides affordable counseling services to individuals and groups experiencing with mental health problems. Typical Issues include (but are not limited to): Anxiety, Depression, Relationship Conflicts, School and/or Studying Problems, Dealing with recent recovery from substance abuse, Self-Esteem Issues, Stress Management, Time Management, Adjustment Problems, Grieving and Loss, Job Loss, and Parent-Child Conflicts

What is counseling?

Broadly, counseling is defined as a professional relationship that empowers diverse individuals, families, and groups to accomplish mental health goals (American Counseling Association [ACA], 2010). Our clinic offers state-of-the-art counseling services that incorporate principles of psychotherapy, human development, learning theory, group dynamics, and dysfunctional behavior to help individuals who face challenges that impair social, occupational, or academic performance (American Mental Health Counselors Association [AMHCA], 1999).

How much does counseling cost?

Because we are committed to enhancing the accessibility and affordability of mental health treatment in Jefferson County, all services offered in the UAB Counselor Education Community Clinic cost $5.

Are training clinic safe and effective?

Although the outcomes in training clinics remain comparable to other outpatient settings (Callahan, Swift, and Hynan, 2006), the rate of improvement may occur at a slower rate (Callahan and Hynan, 2005). In order to maximize positive change and minimize the risk of harm, experts recommend increased supervision, continuing education, peer consultation, monitoring therapeutic progress, making referrals when appropriate, and using objective assessment methods (Nolan, Strassle, Roback, and Binder, 2004; Swift et al, 2010). Our trainees have demonstrated competence in graduate coursework, have successfully passed a national preparation examination, and are closely monitored by our team of experienced program faculty.

How long does counseling last and how long will it take before I feel better?

Duration in counseling varies according to each person’s unique needs and goals. Sometimes, people anticipate recovery in a few short sessions. One study reported that 25% of clients expected recovery after 2 sessions, 44% expected recovery after 4 sessions, and 62% expected recovery after 6 sessions (Swift & Callahan, 2008). This expectation may produce feelings of frustration, considering that 13 to 18 sessions may be needed for 50% of people to achieve lasting change (Hansen, Lambert, & Forman, 2002). Regrettably, unrealistic expectations may cause some to leave counseling with the mistaken belief that the services were unsuccessful because a solution wasn’t achieved within the desired time frame. In order to enhance your experience in counseling we offer a couple of recommendations. First, we encourage you to be aware that reducing your symptoms and working toward lasting change takes time. Unfortunately, embracing unrealistic expectations for a rapid recovery may undermine your progress. Lastly, we recommend that you engage your counselor in an open and collaborative dialogue regarding how long it may take to reach your goals. It is important for you and your counselor to be clear on your definition of success. Once a goal is selected, it will be easier to plan the time it may take to get there.

Once I feel better, should I keep coming?

While many people feel better after a couple of sessions, it is advisable to distinguish between feeling better and developing enduring lifestyle changes. Three phases are used to describe how change progresses during counseling.  The first phase of recovery (remoralization) creates a renewed feeling of hope, an increased sense of well-being, and the recognition that one’s problems aren’t unbeatable. The next phase of recovery (remediation) helps clients overcome symptoms by reactivating coping skills and introducing new techniques for overcoming stressful events. The final phase of recovery (rehabilitation) encourages lasting change as counseling works to enhance characteristics within one’s personality (Howard, Lueger, Maling, & Martinovich, 1993).  Although improvement in counseling typically follows this pattern, the rate of improvement may vary across individuals, their unique goals, and the primary presenting problem (Barkham, et al, 1996). Although the reenergized feeling one experiences after a productive session may be a welcome improvement, lasting change may take longer to achieve. Regrettably, some clients prematurely leave counseling because they misinterpret renewed feelings of hope as recovery. We encourage clients to continue services beyond initial sessions so that they have the opportunity to realize the benefits of symptom reduction and lasting character change. We also encourage clients to engage in an open dialogue with their counselors regarding the time it may take to achieve one’s goals.

What should I expect from counseling?

The initial session in our clinic is designated for intake and orientation. During the first meeting, our counselors will provide you with an intake packet asking for information that we use to tailor our services to your unique needs. You will also speak individually with a counselor who will discuss your reasons for seeking services and gather information used to inform a targeted service plan. Although we allot 1.5 hours for the initial session, all subsequent visits will last 50 minutes. Anyone seeking services with the UAB Counselor Education Community Clinic can expect to receive caring, responsive, and supportive services delivered by counselors who are committed to professional excellence, diversity, and ethical conduct.

Why is taping required?

Because advanced graduate students provide all clinical services in the UAB Counselor Education Community Clinic, videotaping is used to enhance the learning experience and to ensure the quality of care. Research indicates that in order to maximize positive change and minimize the risk of harm, providers may increase supervision, offer continuing education opportunities, engage in peer consultation, monitor therapeutic progress, make referrals when a higher level of care is indicated, and use objective assessment methods to guide interventions (Nolan, Strassle, Roback, and Binder, 2004; Swift et al, 2010). Videotaping is an effective quality assurance method because it allows supervisors to pause and replay key moments during the counseling process. The videotaping policy allows each counselor to receive practical feedback from their supervisors and peers to increase the safety and effectiveness of their services.

Will my information be shared with anyone?

Confidentiality is a top priority for the UAB Counselor Education Community Clinic. Because our clinic policy adheres to the privacy rule outlined by the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) of 1996, all protected health information must be kept confidential. However, it is important to mention that there are circumstances when your counselor is required by law to break confidentiality. According to the Alabama Code of 1975, mental health professionals are required to report instances of child abuse or neglect to the Jefferson County Department of Human Resources.  Additionally, your counselor is mandated to contact law enforcement when it is determined that a client poses an imminent risk to self or others. Lastly, your counselor is required to comply with all court ordered requests to disclose confidential health information. We recommend that you discuss any questions about mandatory reporting requirements with your counselor during the first session.  

Do you see Students or Employees of UAB?

The UAB Community Counseling Center only provides services to community members. Students of UAB who are interested in counseling services are encouraged to contact the UAB Counseling and Wellness Center at (205) 934-5816. Students may also visit their website at http://main.uab.edu/Sites/students/life/counseling/.  Employees of UAB who are interested in counseling services may contact the UAB Employee Assistance Resource Center at alesia@uab.edu or by telephone at (205) 934 – 2281. Employees may also visit their website at http://www.hrm.uab.edu/main/resource_ctr/about_us.html#staff

What should I do in case of an emergency?

The UAB Community Counseling does not offer crisis-counseling services or provide after hours telephone counseling. In the event of a mental health crisis please call the Crisis Center of Birmingham at (205) 323-7777 or visit their website at http://www.crisiscenterbham.com/index.php. If your call is suicide related and the crisis line is busy, please call the National Suicide Hotline at 1-800-273-TALK (1-800-273-8255). In the event of a healthcare emergency please contact 911 for medical assistance.