Who We Are and the Services We Offer
The Counseling Center offers a variety of services including brief consultations, assessment, individual and group counseling, psycho-educational classes, crisis intervention, and outreach. We also offer the services of a Case Manager to assist students in accessing resources on and off-campus (e.g. referrals to off-campus counselors, making arrangements for a private room on campus to Skype with therapists at home, assisting with insurance and transportation questions, etc.). Services are offered to current enrolled full-time students. Our Counseling Center staff is also available to consult with any member of the Wheaton community, as well as family members, about students of concern.
Wheaton College staff members are licensed psychologists, licensed independent clinical social workers, licensed mental health counselors and graduate-level psychology/counseling/social work trainees under close supervision by our licensed staff members. Our Case Manager is a master’s level professional with experience working with students on a small, residential campus.
Location and Hours of Operation
The Counseling Center is located at 42 Howard Street, Norton, MA 02766. We are open Monday through Friday 8:30 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. during the academic semester. We are closed for lunch every day from 12:30 – 1:30 pm. The phone number for the Counseling Center is 508-286-3905. Services are offered during the academic semesters. No services are offered during winter, spring or summer breaks. You and your counselor will discuss how you might seek assistance during the breaks should you require it.
Our Approach to Counseling
As a service in an institution of higher education, the Counseling Center’s primary role is decrease emotional, psychological or behavioral barriers in order to support the intellectual growth and academic success of students. We strive to promote a safe and healthy environment for students by providing developmentally-appropriate, culturally sensitive assessment, diagnosis, recommendations and treatment to full-time students free of charge. Our services are short-term and focused on resolving a particular problem(s) presented. Group counseling sessions have no session limits.
After your first appointment, you will typically meet with a counselor for an extended assessment (generally ranging from 1-3 appointments). The purpose of this extended assessment is to work with you to better understand your concerns, needs and strengths; to determine whether the Counseling Center can meet your needs and how; and to collaborate with you to develop a mutually agreeable plan.
If the recommendation is for you to be seen at the Counseling Center, you and your counselor will:
• work together to identify goals to be addressed
• agree upon various approaches regarding how you might achieve these goals (e.g. individual and/or group counseling, educational offerings, consultations with other health-care professionals such as psychiatrists, physicians, nutritionists, alcohol/drug specialists, etc.)
• agree upon a general time-frame and frequency of sessions in which to accomplish these goals (e.g. 5 – 10 individual counseling sessions bi-weekly, etc.)
There may be instances in which your emotional, psychological or behavioral needs exceed the capacity, expertise or scope of practice of the Counseling Center. In order to encourage your personal, emotional and spiritual growth, your counselor may recommend services outside of the Counseling Center. These services may include:
• off-campus professionals who provide a particular area of expertise; more frequent and/or intensive level of care; or conditions requiring a comprehensive, multi-disciplinary approach to your care
• distance/phone/Skype counseling with a current provider at home
• Twelve Step/Recovery groups (e.g. AA, AL Anon)
• intensive out-patient programs
• in-patient hospitalization
Your counselor may recommend that you meet with him/her for a few “case management” sessions in order to assist you in making arrangements with services and/or off-campus providers; or in some instances may agree to meet with you as an adjunct to an off-campus provider(s). Additionally, your counselor may refer you to our Case Manager to help you make these arrangements.
Ultimately, it is your decision whether or not to accept your counselor’s recommendations. Counselors value self-determination, personal choice and voluntary participation in addressing your concerns and problems. If you and your counselor cannot arrive upon a mutually acceptable approach, your counselor is also under no obligation to continue to meet with you.
In general, your first appointment will be approximately 75 minutes and any subsequent sessions are typically 45-50 minutes long. During the first 15 minutes of your first appointment, you will be asked to complete several forms via computer. These forms include basic demographic information as well as a questionnaire to determine the areas of concern bringing you to the Counseling Center. Please be on time for your appointments. If you are unable to keep your appointment, please provide us with at least 24 hours’ notice. Repeated cancellations or missed appointments may result in the termination of counseling. In the event you do not contact us to cancel an appointment, there is no guarantee that you can be seen sooner than what would be the next regularly occurring appointment. Requests to be seen sooner than the next regularly occurring appointment are at the discretion of the counselor and based upon severity of need and availability of appointment times.
Risks/Benefits of Counseling
There are benefits and risks associated with counseling. On the one hand, most individuals who receive counseling are better off after receiving it than before. However, risks to counseling might include experiencing uncomfortable feelings like sadness, guilt, anger, anxiety, frustration or having difficulties with other people during and/or after counseling. Some changes may lead to what seems to be worsening of circumstances (for example, counseling will not necessarily help to keep a relationship intact.). Thus, no guarantees are made that counseling will absolutely help you. Your counselor is aware of these benefits/risks and is always prepared to discuss your experiences with you.
State law mandates that services offered at the Counseling Center are confidential. Counseling Center records are kept completely separate from all other college records. The Counseling Center maintains all counseling records in a secure, confidential electronic medical record. The Counseling Center therapists consult with each other, as needed, in order to provide quality care. Consultation with other licensed mental health professionals is also permitted for the purpose of quality care, as long as no identifying information is provided. In addition, as a training site, trainees at the Counseling Center are provided intensive supervision from Counseling Center staff and qualified faculty supervisors at their respective graduate program. Finally, the exchange of information with past, concurrent, and/or future providers for the purpose of providing better care is considered ethical practice. You may therefore be asked to provide permission to allow for such an exchange. Refusal to do so may result in your counselor declining to continue to work with you.
Communications between you and your therapist are not shared with others outside of the Counseling Center without your written permission, except under the following circumstances:
• If we believe you may be at risk of harming yourself, someone else, and/or the college community, we are required to take action to try to prevent such harm. These actions may include hospitalization, emergency notification of parents, and/or communication with other college or community personnel, or others, to the extent necessary.
• If there is suspected emotional, physical, and/or sexual abuse or neglect of a minor, disabled person, or elderly person, we are required by law to inform the appropriate state agency. This includes any minor siblings and disabled/elderly family members at home.
• In the event of a court order or other mandatory legal process, we may be required to release records to the court.