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Ask The Experts

How Do I Trust a College Counselor?

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So I’m a first year college student….at a college an hour and a half from home. I sort of realized I needed help/someone to talk to yesterday and I was talking to a friend of mine and she said how the counselors were really helpful. I emailed their office and asked about their privacy policy on if my parents would call out here. I found that they can’t tell anyone that I’ve even been there. Thank god! So I made an appointment. Problem is, I’m scared to death of counselors. But yet I know I need help because I’m an ex-cutter that told no one before and now that I’m under so much pressure I want to do it again but yet I don’t want to be suicidal. So my questions is how do I calm my nerves about talking to a counselor? How do I trust them? The ones in high school you couldn’t trust at all. They’d tell your parents. How do I become okay with talking with them when I know I need to?

Victor Schwartz, M.D., Medical Director, The Jed Foundation answers:

It is really great that you listened to your friend and reached out to the school counseling office. As you begin college, it is really important to realize that the way things work is somewhat different from your experience in high school. I assume you are more than 18 years old and because of that, the college counselors cannot contact your parents unless either you give them permission to do it or unless you are in really serious and immediate danger. So you should be able to feel more confident in speaking to them.

Also, as you continue to grow up one of the things you will hopefully come to realize is that professors, counselors and therapists are all regular people who are there to play a helpful role in your education and growth. The more you can come to see them as real and regular people, the less scary they will seem and the more comfortable you’ll be speaking with them.

Starting college can be stressful. The counseling office is there to help you through this time. They’ll be glad you reached out to them.