Telehealth FAQs

Please see our telehealth FAQs below for more information.

When should I go to Counseling Services?

We encourage you to come to Counseling Services when you are having a difficult time with your transition to Emerson, can’t calm yourself when you are feeling anxious, are feeling depressed, or are having trouble managing your day-to-day life. You can also come to Counseling Services to talk about issues regarding relationships and identity, feeling lonely or isolated, or family problems. Counseling Services can help you deal with low self-esteem and self-criticism. If you have concerns about your use of drugs or alcohol, a therapist can help you assess and make decisions about your substance use. Every person is unique and you may not see your problem listed above. If you are not feeling like yourself or you are trying to sort out a problem that is difficult to handle alone, we invite you to come talk to one of our therapists.

What is brief treatment?

Brief treatment is typically focused on one or more specific issues and is focused on problem solving. When you come to Counseling Services, you and your therapist will discuss the most pressing issues and set goals for helping you. Many people find that once they have developed strategies to deal with the difficulty that brought them to therapy, they feel ready to stop treatment. In other cases, students realize how helpful therapy is and decide they would like to be in therapy for a longer time. In this case, your therapist at Counseling Services can help you find a therapist in the area for long-term work.

Is there a session limit?

While we are a short-term therapy center, Counseling Services does NOT have a specific session limit. We typically see students every other week and check in throughout the process to see how treatment is going and decide together about when to end. We are not able to see students weekly for their entire time at Emerson, so we may discuss a long-term referral when it feels appropriate to do so.

How do I make an appointment?

There are several ways to get started at Counseling Services. You can call our front desk at 617-824-8666 or come into our office on the second floor of 216 Tremont to set up your first appointment. Someone will be available to help find a time that works best for you. Another way to schedule is to use our online scheduling link to set up your first appointment. Please note that the link is only available between 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Monday through Friday, and that you will be asked to complete some forms before being able to request a date for an appointment. Often, appointments are made several days in advance, but please let the person you speak to know if you need to be seen more urgently.

What can I expect from a first appointment?

The first time you come into Counseling Services, you’ll have what’s called a triage appointment. You will be instructed to come 15 minutes early in order to fill out paperwork (which is filled out on an iPad). When you’ve completed the forms, your therapist will review your information and come get you from the waiting room. The intention of this first session is to get an idea of what you're struggling with and what you're looking for in order to make a plan moving forward. At the end of this appointment, you and the therapist will discuss options for the next steps. This might include brief individual therapy or group therapy at Counseling Services, a referral to an off-campus therapist, and/or assistance contacting other departments that may be helpful to you. Referrals off-campus are given for a variety of reasons, most commonly when the concerns you discuss would benefit from long-term or more regular therapy than we are able to offer at Counseling Services. If you are referred, the therapist will work with you to make sure you get connected to someone who is a good fit for you and who takes your insurance.

If you and the counselor decide that brief treatment at Counseling Services would be the best fit, they will work with you to schedule an intake appointment. The aim of the intake session is to get to know you better and get more information about your concerns. Your therapist will talk to you about the problem that brought you into Counseling Services, as well as questions about your background and experiences in order to best meet your needs. You do not have to answer any questions that you are uncomfortable with. During the first session, you are also encouraged to ask any questions you might have.

What if I'm worried I'm going to hurt myself?

If you are thinking about hurting yourself or you feel suicidal, call or come to Counseling Services as soon as possible. Our office is open Monday through Friday, 8:45 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.  Every weekday, students can come in for Urgent Care hours between 2:00 and 3:30 p.m.. If it is an emergency, come talk to our clinical coordinator and she will arrange for you to meet with one of our staff psychotherapists.

Students can also talk to a licensed therapist after hours by calling 617-824-8666. Another option is to call the Good Samaritan hope-line at 1-877-870-4673.

If you feel like you are not able to be safe, call 911 or go to your nearest emergency department. We suggest the Massachusetts General Hospital emergency department.

What if I'm worried about a friend?

If you are worried about a friend, you can make an appointment at Counseling Services to discuss your concerns and next steps. Therapists are able to help you navigate difficult situations such as a friend who is depressed, hurting themselves, talking about suicide, or may have a substance use issue or an eating disorder. We will listen to your concerns and help you develop a plan of how to help your friend and also take care of yourself.

What if I've experienced a sexual assault or other violence/emotional abuse?

First, know that you are not alone or at fault. You may have a variety of reactions, including shock, depression, numbness, and anger. Healing from this type of experience takes time and support. At Counseling Services, we can talk confidentially through options for getting medical assistance and support at Emerson, such as with the Healing & Advocacy Collective.

If you want to report the sexual assault to the police or to the Title IX coordinator, your therapist can help you through the process.

Counseling Services is a confidential service. We can be with you as you start the healing process. This can involve individual therapy at Counseling Services or helping you find other resources, such as support groups both at Emerson and in the Boston community and therapists in the community who specialize in helping people who have experienced trauma. Other wonderful resources include BARCC (the Boston Area Rape Crisis Center), and RAINN (Rape, Abuse, and Incest National Network).

What is an urgent care appointment?

Urgent care hours are Monday through Friday, 2:00 to 3:30 p.m. We encourage you to call Counseling Services if you are having thoughts or urges to hurt yourself or somebody else. If you are experiencing these thoughts and Counseling Services is not available, please call 911 or go to your closest emergency room. You should also call for an urgent care appointment if you are experiencing such a high level of distress that you are unable to continue your daily activities. Some examples include: having panic attacks, being unable to get out of bed, not keeping up with hygiene, being unable to control obsessions/compulsions, seeing or hearing things that other people don’t see or hear, sleeping way too much or not at all, or not eating.

When you call Counseling Services, a therapist will call you back and check in to make sure you are safe and if an urgent care appointment would be appropriate. If you are safe at the moment, the therapist will schedule you for a same-day appointment between 2:00 and 3:30 p.m. An urgent care appointment is a briefer, more structured appointment than a regular therapy appointment. During your appointment, the therapist will assess for safety, provide tips for taking care of yourself, and help you plan supportive and safe activities for the next few days and set up a follow-up appointment or referral for you.

How much does Counseling Services cost?

Counseling Services services are absolutely free for full-time enrolled undergraduate students. Services are also free for part-time undergraduate and graduate students who have paid the Student Health Fee. Assistance with referrals for Emerson community members who are not eligible for services is also provided free of charge.

How long are appointments?

The length of a regular appointment is 45 minutes long. Urgent care and triage appointments are shorter, usually 20 to 30 minutes. For your first appointment, we ask that you come 15 minutes early to fill out paperwork.

Will I get along with my therapist?

The therapeutic relationship is a very special one and is unlike relationships you have with your friends or other providers. Feeling accepted by your therapist is crucial to getting better. Your therapist will try to create a helpful and supportive environment. You will be encouraged to talk about how your relationship is going with your therapist, and your therapist will be open to any feedback about what they can do to make you more comfortable. If you feel uncomfortable with your therapist, we recommend that you discuss this with them explicitly and work together to improve your relationship. You are free to request a transfer to another therapist at any time.

What do I do if my appointment is canceled?

If you are notified by Counseling Services that your appointment has been canceled, such as in cases of therapist illness or if Counseling Services is closed due to inclement weather, please contact the front desk at 617-824-8666 to reschedule your appointment.

What happens at a mandated appointment?

Mandated appointments are designed to support you, in any way you need. We understand that a mandated appointment can be anxiety-provoking, and we want to emphasize that they are for assessment, and not punishment. It is a chance for you to talk about what happened in a safe place and get help if needed. Your therapist will try to better understand where you are coming from and will ask questions about substance abuse, past experiences, and your thoughts about the incident that brought you in. Your therapist will help you assess your risk factors for substance abuse and make a plan for going forward, whether that will mean regular counseling, something else, or nothing further. You may be asked to fill out a questionnaire about your substance use online, or return for a second assessment as needed. Your therapist will ask you to sign a release to inform the conduct office that you attended the appointment, but all information about what is discussed will remain confidential unless you give explicit permission. Your first appointment will likely last 45 to 60 minutes, and you should arrive 15 minutes early to fill out paperwork.

Who has access to my records?

YOU have access to your records and a right to confidentiality. Your records (and even the fact that you have come to counseling) cannot be accessed by any other department at Emerson (Conduct, Housing, Student Success…any of them) or your parents, without your explicit written permission.

There are very few exceptions to confidentiality. Because we work as part of a team, your records and information may be shared with other clinicians at Counseling Services. We will also have to break confidentiality if you have indicated that you may seriously harm yourself or another person. By law, we also must report if we learn that a child, an elderly person, or a person with a disability is being abused. There are also very rare cases when records are requested by court order. In any of these cases, we will only reveal the minimum amount of information necessary and inform you of any break of confidentiality.

At times, you may want to release information about your treatment to other providers. In order to do so, you can sign a release of information form. This release can be taken back at any time you wish. Choosing not to sign a release will in no way affect the quality or amount of care you receive at Counseling Services. Releases are valid for one year from signing. After that, you'll be asked to update the release.

What is the relaxation place and how do I sign up?

The Relaxation Place is free and you can come de-stress with our biofeedback machine to monitor your breathing, heart rate, and skin response while you relax; “Happy Lights” for some sunshine in the gray winter months; meditation tools, such as yoga mats and meditation cushions; or just to have a quiet place for yourself. You can find out more or reserve 30 minutes in the Relaxation Place by calling the front desk at 617-824-8666.

Can I get medication?

We offer limited psychiatric services, largely through a telehealth partner to Emerson College students. Counseling Services can also help students get connected with providers in the area that can discuss and prescribe psychiatric medication. For more information, please call us and let us know you are looking for referrals for medication. We will obtain information and make a plan to get you connected.

Can Counseling Services help me with excused absences?

As a policy, Counseling Services staff does not provide letters to professors for missed classes. However, we support you in taking care of yourself in times of distress and understand that sometimes this involves taking a break from school. We are happy to help you connect with the departments and people on campus who can help you with this process.

Is there private space on campus I can use to hold a telehealth appointment with my therapist?

Yes! Students can go to http://spacebook.emerson.edu/ to search for and reserve a private space on campus to use for their telehealth therapy appointments.

Can I interview an Counseling Services clinician for a class assignment?

As a policy, Counseling Services is unable to provide interviews for class projects. However, Psychology Today (click "Find a therapist" at the top of the page) is a good resource for finding a therapist who may be able to answer any of your questions. 

Telehealth Questions

How do I set up a telehealth appointment?

There are several ways to get started at Counseling Services virtually. One option is to call our office at 617-824-8666 to schedule an initial phone consultation appointment. Someone will be available to help find a time that works best for you, but please let the person you speak to know if you need to be seen more urgently. Another way to schedule is to use our online scheduling link to set up your first appointment. Please note that the link is only available between 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Monday through Friday, and that you will be asked to complete some forms before being able to request a date for an appointment. 

What platform does Counseling Services use for telehealth sessions?

For your first appointment, an Counseling Services therapist will call you at the number you provided for a brief phone triage. This call may appear on Caller ID as a blocked number. If you are continuing with appointments, Counseling Services utilizes Zoom for Healthcare, which is a HIPAA-compliant web and video conferencing platform that is suitable for use in healthcare.

Do I need to do anything before my first telehealth session?

Yes! The day before your scheduled first appointment, you will receive an email from Counseling Services directing you to complete our “first appointment” forms online. It should take you about 20 minutes so please allow yourself enough time before your scheduled appointment. Click the link to complete the “First Appointment” forms. Your information will be sent confidentially and automatically to our Electronic Records. If you have any problems, please call our office at 617-824-8666 for assistance. If you do not complete your paperwork before your session, the therapist may go over the forms with you during the appointment time.

What if the link to complete the online forms is not working?

If your link is not working, please call us at 617-824-8666 or email your therapist and/or counselingservices [at] emerson.edutitle="Email Emerson Counseling Services". We’ll be able to get you forms via email or go over them during your appointment time.

How will my first telehealth session go?

At the scheduled time, a therapist will call the contact number you provided to have a brief conversation with you to get an idea of what you're struggling with and what you're looking for in order to make a plan moving forward. At the end of this phone consultation session, you and the therapist will discuss options for the next steps. This might include brief individual therapy or group therapy at Counseling Services, a referral to an off-campus therapist, and/or assistance contacting other departments that may be helpful to you. Referrals off-campus are given for a variety of reasons, most commonly when the concerns you discuss would benefit from long-term or more regular therapy than we are able to offer at Counseling Services. If you are referred, the therapist will work with you to make sure you get connected to someone who is a good fit for you and who takes your insurance.

If you and the therapist decide that brief treatment at Counseling Services would be the best fit, they will work with you to schedule an intake appointment via Zoom. The aim of the intake session is to get to know you better and get more information about your concerns. Your therapist will talk to you about the problem that brought you into Counseling Services, as well as questions about your background and experiences in order to best meet your needs. You do not have to answer any questions that you are uncomfortable with. During the first appointment/phone call, you are also encouraged to ask any questions you might have.

What if either my Counseling Services therapist or I get disconnected from my Zoom session?

If Zoom is disconnected for any reason, the therapist will attempt to reconnect. If unable to reconnect, the therapist will call you at the number you have provided to either attempt to get back on a video call or continue the session via phone.

Is there private space on campus I can use to hold a telehealth appointment with my therapist?

Yes! Students can go to spacebook.emerson.edu to search for and reserve a private space on campus to use for their telehealth therapy appointments.

How does Urgent Care work for telehealth?

Urgent Care is still available for students Monday through Friday from 2:00 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. Appointments for Urgent Care can be made by calling us at 617-824-8595. After hours, on weekends, and during vacation, you can reach our 24-hour crisis line by calling 617-824-8595 and pressing 1 to speak with a counselor. Students living outside of the US can call 617-824-8755. For additional crisis support, there are many other hotlines available.