Counseling Center: Rights, Privacy, Responsibilities and Consent to Treatment

Welcome to Missouri State University Counseling Center. This document contains important information about our professional services and policies. Please read it carefully. When you sign this document, it will represent an agreement between you and MSU Counseling Center.

Our mission and values

Mission statement: Supporting student wellbeing, development and success.

Under our mission, we promote the following ideals:

Student self-acceptance, development, and positive connections, through ethical and collaborative processes for change.

Our core values

  • Cultural consciousness and identity development
  • Compassion, acceptance and respect
  • Resiliency and prevention
  • Goal development and creative problem solving
  • Competency and integrity
  • Support and being a catalyst for change
  • Altruism and service

Goals and services

The primary goal of the Missouri State University Counseling Center is to promote student personal development and psychological well-being. Counseling services are provided for students with a variety of personal, social, and life-planning concerns. Experienced professional counselors, social workers, psychologists and graduate students assist students in addressing issues which may interfere with their progress at the university.

Eligibility for services

Our services are available to all currently enrolled Missouri State University students and are provided at no additional cost to students. Students access counseling services by meeting with a counselor for an initial consultation. Continuing services, if needed, may be offered in the form of individual or group counseling, depending on what best meets the student's needs. Student concerns that are beyond the scope of care provided by MSU Counseling and/or that involve more long-term, intensive, specialized care or hospitalization may be referred to other mental health providers in the community.

Counseling services

Counseling is not easily described in general statements. It varies depending on the personalities, style and training of the counselor and client, and the particular concerns that you bring forward. There are many different methods our staff use to help you address your concerns, however, our primary approach is based in Solution-Focused, Brief Therapy. Counseling is different than a medical doctor visit; it calls for very active effort on your part. In order for counseling to be effective, it will be important for you to actively work on concerns and situations you discuss with your counselor, both during and in between sessions.

Counseling can have benefits and risks. Since counseling often involves discussing unpleasant aspects of your life, you may experience uncomfortable feelings like sadness, guilt, anger, frustration, loneliness, and helplessness. On the other hand, counseling has been shown to have benefits for people who go through it. Counseling often leads to better relationships, solutions to specific problems, and significant reductions in feelings of distress. In fact, the majority of people report experiencing improvements from counseling within the first few sessions—especially when they are actively participating in making positive changes for improvement in between sessions. There are, however, no guarantees of what you will experience.

Your initial appointment—called an Intake—consists of meeting face-to-face with a counselor to explore the reasons why you are seeking counseling, to discuss relevant personal history details, and to achieve the important step of developing some initial goals. At the end of this appointment, the counselor will be able to offer you a recommendation of how to proceed, and a follow-up appointment will likely be scheduled at that point. Thereafter, appointments scheduled for individual counseling are usually 45-50-minutes in length.

Counseling records and confidentiality

Records of contact with MSU Counseling are kept in a secure computer database. All records are stored with strict attention to security. Records are maintained for seven years following the last activity on the file and are then destroyed. You have the right to request to review your records with your counselor.

In accordance with state and federal law, MSU Counseling Center maintains confidential records of all client contacts. No information about your contact with MSU Counseling, written records or otherwise, will be disclosed to outside parties, except as specified in this document, unless you have signed an authorization for this disclosure to occur. There are, however, some exceptions to confidentiality. For example: therapists may be required to release confidential information in certain situations:

(1) when you state intent to harm yourself or others; or when your counselor has reason to believe you are in imminent in danger of harming yourself or someone else (2) in cases of abuse or neglect of a child or vulnerable adult, (3) as a result of a court order, and (4) when mental illness is used as a defense in a criminal or civil action. While these types of events are rare, you should know that these possibilities exist. In addition, we may disclose confidential information in the event that you need emergency care. In this case, the information disclosed will only be disclosed to individuals with a need to know.

Missed appointments and failure to reschedule

If it becomes necessary for you to change or cancel your appointment, please call the MSU Counseling Center at 417-836-5116. If you either: (a) miss a scheduled appointment and do not reschedule within two weeks or (b) no show for your first scheduled appointment, we will assume you are no longer interested in our services and your file will be closed. You may re-apply for services at any time. Regular attendance of counseling appointments is important to facilitate the counseling process. Frequent cancellations and no-shows will be addressed by your counselor in order to determine the appropriateness for treatment at our center.

Communication with MSU counseling and your counselor

Counselors are often not immediately available by telephone. When your counselor is unavailable during normal business hours, phone calls will be answered by our administrative assistant who will then give your counselor your message as soon as possible. Counselors will make every effort to return your call as soon as possible, with the exception of weekends and holidays.

We do not use email to conduct therapeutic conversations, as email is not considered a secure way to communicate regarding your confidential information. If you provide us with your email address it will be used for scheduling purposes only. We do not use cell phones to conduct therapeutic conversations, as a cell phone is not considered confidential. If you provide us with your cell phone number it will be used for scheduling purposes only. Further, MSU Counseling Center staff does not access or utilize Facebook, MySpace, etc., for counseling center purposes, other than providing general information.

Text appointment reminders

You will be asked to indicate whether or not you want us to send text appointment reminders to your cell phone. This service is totally optional, but many students find it is a helpful service, so they will more easily remember their scheduled appointments. Since there are risks of others discovering on your cell phone that you are scheduled for an appointment with MSU Counseling when you accept this service, please consider carefully whether or not you wish to receive text reminders. If you accept the text appointment reminder service, you may cancel it at any time.

Emergency services

Crisis intervention is provided to help students cope with mental health emergencies. During office hours call or come by the Counseling Center, Magers Health and Wellness Center, Suite 304. For after-hours mental health emergencies, call 417-836-5116 then press zero to speak to a crisis counselor. You may also contact MSU Public Safety at 417-836-5509. Please do not attempt to contact us about a crisis by email. The use of email is not a secure form of communication, thus confidentiality cannot be guaranteed.

Staff consultation

In order to provide you with the best care, your counselor may consult with or receive supervision from another member of our professional staff concerning the service we provide you. All professional staff members are bound by confidentiality laws.

Research and evaluation

MSU Counseling Center seeks to evaluate and improve its services to students by conducting research and evaluation projects. Information for an annual report of services is routinely compiled and reported as group averages with no individually identifying information. This is used for program planning, service evaluation, and to assess service needs. You may be asked to participate in research projects currently underway. Staff members conducting research and evaluation projects may also take selected information from your file as part of a project. This activity will always be on an anonymous and confidential basis and restricted to information relevant to the project only.

Supervised clinical staff

Some services at MSU Counseling Center are provided by master's level counseling, social work or psychology students. You will be informed if your therapist is receiving supervision and the name of the individual supervising that therapist. You may request not to receive services from a master's student.

Audio and video recording

MSU Counseling Center wishes to provide the best service possible to students; thus, we are continually working to enhance our own skills as therapists. Your therapist may request your permission to record sessions with you. MSU Counseling and your therapist assure you that these recordings will be used only for quality assurance and supervisory purposes. Recordings will be erased after being reviewed. If you do not want your sessions to be recorded, you are under no obligation to consent to this request.

Minors seeking treatment

If you are under 18 years of age, you are not legally able to consent to treatment, and consent must be obtained from a parent or guardian. Minors under the age of 18 must understand that parents' may have access to records based on law. In general, we ask parents that they agree to give up access to your records. If they agree, we will provide them only with general information about our work together, unless there is a high risk of harm to yourself or someone else. In this case, MSU Counseling staff will discuss their concerns about your safety with your parents. If possible, counseling staff will discuss the matter with you before giving your parents any information and do our best to handle any objections you may have about this conversation.

I hereby agree to counseling/treatment/assessment/consultation at MSU Counseling. I have read the information contained in the above "Counseling Services: Rights, Privacy, Responsibilities and Consent to Treatment" and understand these provisions and policies. I understand I may address any questions regarding this consent with a counselor. I also understand that this consent will remain in effect until I am no longer a MSU student, and that I have the right to later revoke my consent. If I do not sign this consent, or later revoke it, MSU Counseling Center may decline to provide services to me.