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Your First Appointment

Your first appointment is intended to be a meaningful and empowering experience that furthers your well-being and growth. We hope it sets the foundation for an informed and collaborative relationship between you and your counselor. Due to high demand, wait time during peak times of the semester may be 3-4 weeks. Please click on the Interesting Links to the left to access useful resources which may promote self-directed solutions. The number of appointments available per semester is based upon a triage system related to scope and severity of symptoms. We look forward to meeting and working with you!

Making your first appointment:

We know it isn't always easy to reach out and seek help. To make the process of a little easier, here are some tips to follow for making your initial appointment:

  • When you make your appointment, feel free to acknowledge whether you wish to speak with a male or female clinician.
  • You may also share whether or not you were referred to the Counseling Center or decided to seek our services on your own.
  • When you sign up for an appointment, you are not required to describe specifics relating to why you are seeking the help of a counselor.
  • All efforts will be made to get you an appointment as soon as possible, however, if you are in a crisis or emergency situation where your own safety or another person?s safety is at risk, it may be necessary to explain the urgency of your request to see a staff clinician.

What to expect at your first appointment:

Stage 1: Arrival

  • After you check-in with our office manager, you will be directed to a computer kiosk and instructed on how to start the intake form.
  • The length of your first appointment will be approximately 50 minutes. This includes 10 minutes for you to fill out our intake form at a computer kiosk in our waiting room, 5 minutes for your counselor to review your form and the remaining time to speak to your counselor. If therapy is begun, your counselor will schedule subsequent 50-minute sessions, at a time and frequency with which you both agree.
  • When you are done, you will wait a few more minutes before meeting your therapist. Our waiting room has some interesting and beneficial reading materials, and the computer kiosks have web browsing and e-mail ability. Information gathering is part of the first appointment.
  • Any student that arrives more than 5 minutes past any of his or her appointment start times may be asked to reschedule the appointment at a future date.

Stage 2: Intake Session

  • The therapist who works with you during your intake appointment is not necessarily the therapist you will continue to work with. The information she or he gathers will determine the best fit for your experience.
  • Information gathering is part of the first appointment. You can anticipate spending some time with your therapist responding to both verbal and written questions. All questions are asked in order gain a comprehensive understanding of the difficulty you are facing and identify the most beneficial way to proceed.
  • Some questions will be about prior counseling and/or psychiatric experience. If you are prescribed psychotropic medications, it is very helpful for you to know their names and the dosages you are taking.
  • If appropriate to your experience, it is also important to have the names and addresses of your counselor from home and the medical practitioner that prescribes your medications. Your counselor will carefully explain the boundaries that safeguard your privacy and confidentiality. She or he will also concretely explain the procedural guidelines that we comply with to assure client safety and our own ethical security.
  • You are strongly encouraged to read our Informed Consent for Student Counseling Services before your first appointment. You will be asked to sign a copy of this document as part of the intake process.


Stage 3: Treatment Planning

  • In your second meeting at the Counseling Center you will meet with the therapist you and your intake counselor decided was the best fit for you.
  • Together with your therapist you will determine goals for counseling. She or he will help you to stay on track with those goals at each session until they have been met. At that point you will have the opportunity to follow-up with your counselors in a few weeks to ensure the skills you learned are still helpful in regards to your concerns.
  • At the Counseling Center we see students every other week. This is necessary in order to help the maximum number of students. If weekly appointments are required we can help you find a therapist in the nearby community who can accommodate those needs.
  • All of our therapists are licensed mental health counselors. They are skilled clinicians that bring to their work a wealth of experience and knowledge.
  • Most of all, they genuinely love working with Potsdam students and becoming trusted helpers that can contribute to your health and productivity during your time in our community.
Wellness Advocate Photo

It isn't always easy to reach out and seek help and sometimes it's that first initial step that is the scariest. 

Remember, you're part of the SUNY Potsdam community and we want you to succeed.  The Counseling Center will do its best to help you through all of your academic experiences.