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Therapy Treatment & Counseling for College Students

Therapy Treatment & Counseling for College Students

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Statistics on Mental Health in College Students

  • Up to 44% of college students reported experiencing anxiety and depression.1
  • For college students, suicide ranks third in terms of causes of death.
  • 75% of people with mental health disorders report having their first episode by 24.
  • Nearly two-thirds of students who experienced substance misuse also experienced mental health conditions such as anxiety and depression.
  • About 1 in 3 first-year college students said they suffered from mental health disorders before college.2
  • The National Alliance on Mental Health (NAMI) reported that 64% of college drop-outs cite a mental health-related reason for leaving.3
  • Nearly 70% of college students believe the pandemic is causing them emotional distress or concern.
  • About 73% of students report feeling the same amount (or more) of stress and anxiety as they did a year ago.4
  • Students who identified as female (76%) or non-binary (81%) were more likely to report feeling anxious or stressed as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic than students who identified as male (55%). Compared to 66% of the male students surveyed, female students (77%) and non-binary students (70%) also said they were experiencing the same amount (or more) of stress or worry as they had a year prior.
  • According to 9 out of 10 college students, there is a severe mental health crisis on college campuses.
  • In a study conducted over ten years, comprised of 155,026 college students from 196 campuses, therapy treatment and diagnosis rose dramatically. The frequency of treatment grew from 19% in 2007 to 34% by 2017, while the proportion of students with lifetime diagnoses increased from 22% to 36%. Suicidal tendencies and depression have both grown in frequency, while stigma has reduced.5
  • According to the Association for University and College Counseling Center Directors (AUCCCD) Annual Survey, nearly 90% of counseling center directors in 2019 reported an increase in the number of students seeking services.6

Common Reasons College Students Seek Therapy

Students may seek help for many different issues. They may even be aware of a growing pattern of unsuccessful attempts to cope with their suffering, changing how they think, feel, or behave.

The following is a list of various issues that students seek counseling for; it is by no means all-inclusive, and no issue is insignificant:

  • Academic achievement
  • Substance abuse
  • Getting used to college life
  • Anxiety or worrying
  • Losing a loved one or grieving a loss
  • Depression
  • Mood swings
  • Eating disorders
  • Family issues
  • Homesickness
  • Loneliness
  • Low self-esteem
  • Interpersonal disagreements
  • Issues with romantic relationships
  • Chronic discomfort
  • Time and stress management
  • Self-harming habits
  • Sexuality-related issues
  • Sexual abuse
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Anger management
  • Test anxiety

What Happens in Therapy for University Students?

Numerous studies have shown that the collaborative relationship between the psychologist and patient, often known as a therapeutic alliance, is a crucial component of what makes psychotherapy effective. Since patients and psychologists work closely, finding the correct match is vital. It’s important to have “chemistry” with your psychologist, so don’t be shy about asking prospective candidates about their education, clinical experience, and success in addressing issues similar to yours. Look for a psychologist who makes you feel comfortable, whether you interview them over the phone, in a 15-minute consultation, or at your first appointment.

You may need to choose a psychologist covered by your insurance plan if you intend to use your insurance to pay for psychotherapy. Filling out our free and confidential online insurance verification form is the best method to determine the specifics of your therapy insurance coverage.

Before attending your first session, make a list of the topics you want to discuss in your first session and the issues you want to work on to make the most of your time. Be ready to discuss the circumstances that led you to the psychologist. If you and your psychologist have a general notion of what you want to achieve, it will be easier and more productive.

When you go to your first therapy appointment, feeling anxious is normal.7 A 45 to a 50-minute session is standard, and most people receive psychotherapy in multiple sessions. It can be challenging to recall every detail of a therapy session. In a notebook, you can write down your thoughts and your psychologist’s queries and suggestions. You can keep involved by making a few notes while in the session. Take your calendar with you so you may make your next appointment before you leave the psychologist’s office.

Your psychologist could begin by acknowledging how brave it is to start therapy. If not done so via phone, they may also discuss practical issues, including fees, how to schedule or cancel an appointment, and confidentiality.

Your psychologist will lead you through the procedure while letting you dictate the pace of telling your story. Psychologists are skilled at establishing the scene and getting things going. They have received training to lead each session effectively so that you can reach your objectives.

After a while, you might be more open to sharing information when you come to trust your psychologist and the process. After the therapist completely understands your past, you will collaborate to develop a treatment plan that may or may not include medication. Note the medications you are currently taking, if any, and the dosage so your psychologist is aware of it. This joint goal-setting is crucial because you both must be committed to reaching your objectives.

The psychologist can also recommend immediate action at the conclusion of your initial appointment. For instance, if you’re depressed, they might advise consulting a doctor to rule out any underlying medical concerns, such as a thyroid condition. As a result, you ought to have a new perspective on your issue, a strategy, and renewed hope by the end of the first few sessions.

You’ll continue to develop a dependable therapeutic relationship with your psychologist as your treatment progresses. Your psychologist might wish to conduct some assessments as part of the continual getting to know you process. Psychologists are qualified to perform and interpret tests to measure the severity of your issue, reveal significant personality traits, expose unhealthy coping mechanisms like alcoholism, or detect learning disabilities.

You’ll gain new abilities that will change how you view yourself and the world as you start addressing the issue that led you to seek therapy. In addition, you’ll learn how to identify situations you can influence and those you can’t, as well as how to concentrate on enhancing the factors you can control.

Additionally, practice is essential because altering behavior is challenging. Between sessions, be attentive because it’s simple to revert to old thoughts and behavior habits. Keep an eye on how you respond to situations and apply the knowledge you gain from your psychologist to actual circumstances. Your psychologist can better assist you if you bring what you’ve learned between sessions back to the office. Finally, regular practice will help you retain your progress when therapy is over, solidify your gains, and move through treatment efficiently and quickly.

Find Mental & Behavioral Health Treatment Centers Near Me

Athena Care offers a full-spectrum of mental and behavioral health services to those in Tennessee.

We have qualified therapists and accept many of the big name insurance providers. Our locations are open Monday-Friday from 7am to 6pm. Learn more below:

Things to Consider When Seeking Therapy

A diagnosed mental illness isn’t the only reason you should seek help

Just as there doesn’t have to be an emergency to seek the help of a therapist, you can still communicate with one even if you haven’t received a mental illness diagnosis. Counseling for college students provides the tools necessary to deal with various challenges.8

Each person responds differently to different therapies

Psychiatrists utilize a variety of therapeutic approaches depending on the patient’s choices and needs for mental health care. For example, treatment for various illnesses, including bipolar disorder, eating disorders, signs of depression, anxiety, and trauma frequently involves Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT). This kind of treatment recognizes negative thought patterns and replaces them with more helpful, analytical thinking.

Psychodynamic therapy, behavior therapy, music therapy, and holistic therapy are other popular forms of therapy treatment for college students. When developing a therapy plan, many therapists combine these approaches.

Honesty is essential while your therapist gets to know you

It’s important to understand that a few treatment sessions won’t provide you with all the desired solutions. Therapy requires persistence and time. The length of treatment will also be prolonged should you lie to your therapist.

It’s important to remember that therapists are human and can make mistakes. In addition, your therapist can only use the information you choose to reveal. Therefore, it’s essential to be candid about your feelings and thoughts. This will help your therapist better understand your preferences and enable them to offer a more tailored solution going forward.

You may have to change therapists

Therapy frequently involves trial and error, particularly when looking for the proper therapist. The American Psychological Association (APA) states that therapy should only take a few sessions to have an impact. Don’t be discouraged if you don’t sense a connection with your therapist. It’s more crucial for you to continue looking until you find a therapist that offers a successful course of treatment.

Medication is a potential course of treatment

There may be a need to prescribe medication for mental health problems. Medication can balance chemical abnormalities in the brain, enabling you to function more easily in your daily life.

Getting help can empower you

According to studies, those who receive psychotherapy (or talk therapy) treatment benefit from it in roughly 75% of cases. However, the stigma around mental illness persists today and might discourage people from getting care. If you ignore your need for assistance, your symptoms can worsen. While seeking help may seem intimidating, your mental health will greatly benefit from learning how to deal with and manage symptoms.

Options for online counseling can eliminate obstacles to care.

The coronavirus outbreak made the necessity for counseling therapy for college students clear. Campus counseling facilities are a terrific alternative, but they might not always be easily accessible for students who don’t feel comfortable meeting in person or who need help after hours. Fortunately, you can receive comfortable mental health care anywhere using online therapy technologies.

Glossary of Various Types of Clinicians

You’ll probably find a string of letters following someone’s name while searching for mental health treatment providers. Many licensing authorities require physicians to indicate their degree (Masters, Doctorate, or Medical Doctorate) in addition to their license.

The following is a list of additional credentials that may appear after a person’s name and what they denote:

  • LPA – Licensed Psychological Associate
  • LCSW – Licensed Clinical Social Worker
  • LCAS – Licensed Clinical Addiction Specialist
  • LMHC – Licensed Mental Health Counselor
  • LPCA – Licensed Professional Counselor Associate
  • LMFT – Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist
  • NCC – National Certified Counselor
  • RN – Registered Nurse
  • MS – Masters of Science
  • MA – Masters of Arts
  • MSW – Masters of Social Work
  • DSW – Doctorate of Social Work
  • Ph.D. – Doctorate of Philosophy
  • Psy.D – Doctorate of Psychology
  • Ed.D – Doctorate of Education
  • MD – Medical Doctor
  • DO – Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine

A doctor of medicine (M.D.) or doctor of osteopathic medicine (D.O.) with a focus on mental health is known as a psychiatrist.9 This physician may also specialize in fields like geriatrics, child and adolescent, or addiction psychiatry.

Psychiatrists can do the following:

  • Diagnose and treat mental health issues
  • Provide guidance
  • Prescribe medication

A psychologist is trained in psychology, a field of study that examines thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. A psychologist often has a doctorate (Ph.D., Psy.D., Ed.D.).

A Psychologist:

  • Can provide counseling one-on-one or in group settings while diagnosing and treating a variety of mental health conditions.
  • Can only prescribe medication if they have a valid license to do so
  • May collaborate with a different doctor who, if necessary, can provide prescriptions for drugs

If a social worker is what you want, look for a Licensed Clinical Social Worker (L.C.S.W.) who has specialized knowledge and experience in mental health. A master’s in social work (M.S.W.), master of science in social work (M.S.S.W.), or doctorate in social work is required for licensure as a clinical social worker (D.S.W. or Ph.D.).

Licensed Clinical Social Workers:

  • May offer counseling, behavioral health assessments, and a variety of other services depending on their expertise and licensure
  • Do not write prescriptions for drugs
  • May collaborate with a different doctor who, if necessary, can provide prescriptions for drugs

A Licensed Professional Counselor’s (L.P.C.) and Licensed Mental Health Counselor’s (L.M.H.C.) education requirements vary slightly by state. A master’s degree in a counseling-related subject, 500-hour practicum or internship, with at least 300 hours spent in a mental health or community-based environment, and nine credits in mental health assessment, diagnosis, and treatment are requirements for licensure as an L.P.C. in Tennessee.10

A Licensed Professional Counselor:

  • Provides diagnosis and counseling for various mental health concerns
  • Does not prescribe medication
  • May collaborate with a different doctor who, if necessary, can provide prescriptions for drugs

Ask Questions

You can find a list of practitioners organized by city, background, and specialty here. It’s important to ask lots of questions and to keep the following factors in mind when selecting a mental health treatment center and provider:

  • Education, training, license, and years of experience
    • Does the therapist have a Ph.D., Psy.D., or a master’s degree?
    • Have they worked as a therapist for college students before? How long? In what capacity?
    • Which mental health issues have they primarily treated?
    • How long have they been practicing?
  • Specialties and services offered
    • Which types of therapy do they specialize in?
    • Is online therapy an option?
  • Treatment methods and philosophies
    • Which therapy techniques do they favor?
  • Which insurance companies do they work with?
  • What are their office hours, prices, and how long do sessions last?

Will My Parents Find Out If I Go To Therapy?

In Tennessee, those 16 and older are presumed mature enough to consent to medical care, including mental health care. Therefore, they can sign their own consent forms for procedures, counseling services, and/or testing.11

Most therapists are excellent at protecting your privacy. However, there are certain exceptions, including but not limited to the following:12

  • Therapists must alert authorities if you discuss child abuse, suicide planning, or other ill intentions. Depending on the circumstances, that can entail informing child protective services, your parents, or another authority figure.
  • Your parents might know you underwent therapy if you utilize their health insurance. Insurance firms must notify the policyholder each time the insurance is used. An explanation of benefits (EOB), which details the type of therapy received, when it occurred, and how much it cost, will be given to your parents. It might be mailed or made available online.

They may or may not find information regarding the type of care you received in the EOB. (It may simply read “office visit” or “mental health treatment.”) The EOB could also include the names of any medications you purchased.

  • Try phoning your insurance company and asking them to send the EOBs to you rather than your parents. However, it also relies on your state’s legislation and the insurance provider.

Can College Students Get Therapy Online?

Yes. Many colleges and universities now rely on online mental health services to assist students on campus or off.13

Effectiveness & Success Rates of Therapy for College Students

There is a rising need for both on-campus and off-campus mental health resources among college students. Although 43% of students still believe that in-person counseling centers are vital, 46% claimed that online counseling is a good resource for mental health.

Additionally, higher education should find ways to provide in-person and online counseling services to enhance student well-being, according to the CDC and the American College Health Association (AHCA).

Reasons why higher education should support student well-being and mental health on campus:14

  • Boost students’ academic performance: A college student’s success and ability to succeed academically might be affected by mental health issues. Poor mental health can lead to a lack of motivation and difficulties concentrating, resulting in unsatisfactory grades. The secret to students’ academic success may lie in the availability of campus-wide mental health services for them to access. According to a national poll, 66% of college students thought counseling services helped them perform better academically.
  • Support students’ well-being: Even before a pandemic, college is a stressful atmosphere for students. There will be many mental health issues as students return to university, many of which cannot be resolved by standard counseling alone.

According to research from Active Minds, 39% of college students have a serious mental health issue. Therefore, giving professors, staff, and students the right tools for managing their behavioral and mental health will contribute to developing a positive campus climate.

  • Suicide prevention: The Jed Foundation (JED) suggests using a community-based approach to safeguarding students’ mental health and preventing suicide on campuses. Many are returning to school after losing a loved one to COVID-19 or are still dealing with the pandemic’s effects on their mental health. According to a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) survey, one in four people between the ages of 18 and 24 have thought about suicide in the past 30 days. In situations like these, it’s critical to have a campus that supports suicide prevention efforts and informs everyone about how to assist people in need.
  • Raise retention rates for students: After COVID-19, higher education will likely resemble something very different. The American Council of Education predicts a drop in enrolment, which could significantly affect schools and universities. According to research by the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), 64% of young adults who dropped out of college did so because of a mental illness. Counseling services have a favorable effect on retention, according to data as well. According to student self-report, 63% of students who got counseling said that the services had aided their decision to continue their education. Higher education must give students’ mental health priority. Otherwise, schools risk seeing a decline in enrollment, graduation rates, and academic accomplishment.

How Much Does Therapy Cost for College Students?

The cost of therapy varies based on the location, the type of therapy, the specialty, the length of treatment, insurance coverage, and the credentials and reputation of the therapist. Typically, therapy costs between $65 per hour and $250 or more. Therefore, a person should prepare to pay between $100 and $200 per session.15

Many major insurance companies may cover the cost of therapy for college students. However, remember that you must meet annual deductibles and will most likely pay a copay for services.

Resources for College Students

In addition to your campus counseling center, below is an extensive list of behavioral and mental health resources for college students:16


  1. Mayo Clinic Health System Staff. “What Parents Need to Know about College Students and Depression.” Mayo Clinic Health System, 7 Sept. 2021, www.mayoclinichealthsystem.org/hometown-health/speaking-of-health/college-students-and-depression.
  2. Auerbach, Randy P., et al. “WHO World Mental Health Surveys International College Student Project: Prevalence and Distribution of Mental Disorders.” Journal of Abnormal Psychology, vol. 127, no. 7, 2018, pp. 623–38. Crossref, https://doi.org/10.1037/abn0000362.
  3. National Society of High School Scholars. “3 Shocking Statistics on Student Mental Health | National Society of High School Scholars.” National Society of High School Scholars, 4 May 2021, www.nshss.org/blog/3-shocking-statistics-on-student-mental-health.
  4. Timely MD. “College Students More Concerned About COVID-19 Than Ever, New Survey by Finds.” TimelyMD, 12 Jan. 2022, timely.md/college-students-more-concerned-about-covid-19-than-ever.
  5. Lipson, Sarah Ketchen, et al. “Increased Rates of Mental Health Service Utilization by U.S. College Students: 10-Year Population-Level Trends (2007–2017).” Psychiatric Services, vol. 70, no. 1, 2019, pp. 60–63. Crossref, https://doi.org/10.1176/appi.ps.201800332.
  6. Abrams, Z. “A crunch at college counseling centers.” Monitor on Psychology, 51(6). Sept. 2020, https://www.apa.org/monitor/2020/09/crunch-college-counseling
  7. “Understanding Psychotherapy and How It Works.” American Psychological Association, 16 Mar. 2022, www.apa.org/topics/psychotherapy/understanding.
  8. Hall, Jan, PhD. “Therapy for College Students: 9 Things Higher Education Should Know.” TimelyMD, 19 Jan. 2019, timely.md/blog/therapy-for-college-students.
  9. Danzman, Rob. “Finding a Therapist for Your College Student.” Psychology Today, Sussex Publishers, LLC, 23 May 2019, www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/campus-crunch/201905/finding-therapist-your-college-student.
  10. “Tennessee Counseling License Requirements.” Counseling Degree Guide, www.counselingdegreeguide.org/licensure/tennessee/#process. Accessed 19 July 2022.
  11. “echappellTDMHSASResearchTeam 02/25/2013 Page | 363 TDMHSAS BEST PRACTICE GUIDELINES.” Tn.Gov, 25 Feb. 2013, www.tn.gov/content/dam/tn/mentalhealth/documents/Pages_from_CY_BPGs_363-366.pdf.
  12. MHA Screening. “How Can I Get Help without My Family Knowing?” MHA Screening, Mental Health America, 7 May 2022, screening.mhanational.org/content/how-can-i-get-help-without-my-family-knowing/?layout=actions_a.
  13. Carrasco, Maria. “Colleges Expand Mental Health Services for Students.” Inside Higher Ed, 20 Sept. 2021, www.insidehighered.com/news/2021/09/20/colleges-expand-mental-health-services-students.
  14. Clark, Chris. “Importance of Mental Health Services on College Campuses.” TimelyMD, 23 June 2020, timely.md/blog/mental-health-services-on-college-campuses.
  15. FAQs, By Therapy. “How Much Does Therapy Cost?” GoodTherapy.Org Therapy Blog, GoodTherapy, LLC, www.goodtherapy.org/blog/faq/how-much-does-therapy-cost. Accessed 19 July 2022.
  16. Writers, Staff. “Mental Health Guide for College Students.” OnlineColleges.Net, 11 Feb. 2019, www.onlinecolleges.net/for-students/mental-health-resources.

If you suspect that you or someone you love suffers from mental health disorders, contact Athena Care today.

One of our friendly associates will help you get the help you need. Take this first step to feel better and take control. 

(615) 320-1155