Short-term Individual Counseling
Important decisions and changes are part of college life for every student, and individual work with a counseling professional can provide a safe, confidential setting in which to explore your feelings and thoughts, examine your options, weigh alternatives, and move toward your own goals. Some students experience feelings or symptoms that interfere with their ability to succeed academically and personally, such as those related to depression, anxiety, or eating disorders. In these instances, our counselors can help you to understand these symptoms, offer treatment options, which could include a referral to one of our staff psychiatrists for further evaluation. Read more about the counseling process.
The Furman Counseling Center operates according to a short-term therapy model. The average number of sessions used per year by the students who visit us is approximately 5.8. However, you and your counselor may feel that you can benefit more from longer-term individual treatment, and if so, we can provide you with referrals to therapists outside Barnard. We have an extensive referral network, and we make every effort to find therapists who can meet the therapeutic and financial needs of our students.
The first question that many students have is "Just what is group counseling, anyway?" The short answer is, group counseling is one of the forms of counseling that are offered at the Furman Counseling Center. That might sound obvious, but it is important to understand what is meant by that statement: the counseling work that happens in groups is just as meaningful and "real" as that which takes place in the individual counseling context.
In group counseling, students experiencing a common concern meet face-to-face with group therapists. During the group meeting time, members are responsible for talking about what is troubling them. Discussion flows according to what members would like to talk about in general support groups. Group leaders may not always assign topics for the group to discuss. However, skills training groups are more structured with lectures, practices, and reflection.
Members are encouraged to give support and feedback to others, and to work with the responses and associations that other members' contributions bring up for them.
Feedback involves expressing your own feelings and thoughts about what someone else says or does, or about what is happening in the group as a whole. This kind of interaction between group members is encouraged, and provides each person with an opportunity to try out new ways of relating to herself and others. It also provides members with an opportunity for learning more about their own interpersonal styles.
Group work usually begins with a focus on the establishment of trust. Members work to establish a level of trust that allows them to talk personally and honestly. Group trust is enhanced when all members make a commitment to the group.
One of the things that makes the group therapy situation unique is that it is a closed and safe system. People who join groups must agree to keep the content of the group sessions confidential. What people talk about or disclose in groups remains strictly among the members of the group. It is not appropriate for a group member to disclose events of the group to an outside person.
How does group counseling work?
There are a number of reasons that group counseling can be a powerful experience:
- During group counseling, people begin to see that they are not alone. Many times people feel isolated with their problems. It is encouraging to hear that other people have similar feelings or difficulties, or have even worked through a problem that deeply disturbs another group member.
- When people come into a group and interact freely with other group members, they usually re-experience some of the difficulties that brought them to group therapy in the first place. Under the skilled direction of a group therapist, the group is able to give support, provide new perspectives, and/or offer alternatives to the person in such a way that the difficulty becomes resolved.
- Group is an ideal setting for exploring social or interpersonal difficulties -- and most of the concerns that bring students to counseling have an interpersonal component. The group experience allows a person to better understand her interpersonal concerns, and to develop new ways of relating to people.
- In a climate of trust, people feel free to care about and help each other. New members are often amazed at how much their contributions help other members. In turn, by helping others, we learn about and help ourselves.
What do I talk about when I am in group counseling?
Talk about what brought you to the Counseling Center in the first place. Tell the group members what is bothering you. If you need support, let the group know. If you think you need confrontation, let them know that, too. You'll get the most from the group if you can tell people what you expect of them (and if you are having trouble identifying exactly what you need, you can talk about that). In addition, you will probably be most helped and satisfied if you talk about your feelings. The safety of the group permits expression of feelings which are often very difficult to express outside the group.
When we talk about revealing our feelings, we are talking about self-disclosure. Self-disclosure is an important part of group counseling, and relates directly to how much people get from the group. Of course, how much you talk about yourself will depend upon your own comfort level. Group is not a place where people are ever forced to tell their deepest and innermost thoughts. You are ultimately the person responsible for how much you share.
There are six ground rules for participation in a group at the Rosemary Furman Counseling Center:
- The group sessions are confidential. Group members, like the leaders, are bound ethically not to disclose the contents of the group sessions.
- It takes some time to get to know the group, and to really give yourself a chance to become a member. For this reason, and to protect the group from "drop-ins" (students who come once and then disappear), we ask that, if you join a group, you agree to attend at least eight sessions.
- If you have decided at some point that you have gained as much as possible from the group, or that the group isn't for you, we ask that you come one last time to the group and say goodbye.
- It is the responsibility of each person to talk about her reasons for being in the group.
- Having a feeling and acting on it are two different things. You can talk about any feeling in the group. Acting out these feelings, however, is not acceptable. This is true whether feelings are acted upon oneself or another person.
- If you are going to miss a session, please let the group leaders know at least 24 hours in advance.
If you have any further questions about the groups offered at the Counseling Center, please call (212) 854-2092.
How do I sign up?
To be part of a group, just call 854-2092. We will arrange for you to meet with the Counseling Center's group leaders, who will be happy to give you more information and answer any questions that you have.
All groups are free and confidential.
Current Groups: Fall 2019
Making Peace with Food
A confidential support group is for students experiencing symptoms of disordered eating such as restricting, binge eating, purging behaviors, and preoccupation with food, weight, or exercise. This group provides a space where you can connect with others, receive support, learn skills and explore themes related to eating disorder recovery. Topics addressed may include understanding and changing one's relationship with food, self-nourishment, dealing with emotions and distress, body image, and relationships. Please schedule meeting with group leader before starting group if you are interested in joining this group.
Group leader: Kathleen Niegocki, Ph.D.
Time: Mondays, TBD
Location: First floor, Brooks Hall Room 98
Body Acceptance Group
This confidential semi-structured group is for students struggling with their body image. In this supportive space, you will gain a more compassionate, understanding of our own body dissatisfaction while developing skills to help you move towards a more peaceful relationship with your body. This group challenges the social, cultural, and institutional forces that contribute to weight stigma, fatphobia, and body shame. Please schedule a meeting with group leader if you are interested in joining this group.
Group leader: Kathleen Niegocki, Ph.D.
Day and Time: Mondays, TBD
Location: First floor, Brooks Hall 98
Confident, Comfortable, and Connected
Do you want to connect and talk with people but often feel overwhelm by fears or worries? If yes, the Confident, Comfortable, and Connected group may be the place for you to develop your social skills and connect with others in a supportive space. Please schedule meeting with group leader before starting group.
Group Leader: Christy Dabreo-Otero, M.A.
Day and Time: TBD
Location: First floor, Brooks Hall Room 97
Coping With Loss
Coping With Loss is a support group for students who have lost a parental figure and are experiencing emotions associated with grief that make it difficult to enjoy "college life." In this group everyone can understand what you're going through. While we do talk about serious issues, we also laugh, share good fortune, and exchange ideas. Please schedule meeting with group leader before starting group.
Group leader: Hilary Colenso, Ph.D.
Location: First floor, Brooks Hall Room 98
Take Heart: Beneath the Surface of Relationships and Stress
Hack the science of your emotions to get unstuck from patterns in stress or relationships of any sort! Topics of discussion include mindfulness, willpower, emotion regulation, and interpersonal skills, with opportunities to share and troubleshoot what works for you. Please schedule meeting with leader before starting group.
Group leader: Anna Lin, Ph.D.
Date and Time: Thursdays TBD
Location: First floor, Brooks Hall Room 98
Women of Color Support group
Come out and enjoy the comfort and support of a fellowship with other women of color on campus. This dynamic group will provide a safe space to reflect on personal growth and unique concerns of women of color. Dinner will be served. Drop-ins welcome. Meeting with group leader prior to attending group is NOT required.
Group leader: Vanessa Dabel, Ph.D.
Held Wednesdays at 5:30 pm
Location: North Tower Sulzberger Hall
MAPS: Managing A Parent’s Substance Use Support Group
MAPS is a support group for students with a parent/guardian who has struggled with alcohol or other substance use. By connecting with peers with a similar history and working with an experienced counselor, the group will work together to MAP ways to navigate the challenges of this complex and important relationship. You will find support, comfort, and a safe space to share your experiences. Please schedule meeting with group leader before starting group.
Group Leader: Marisa Mabli, LCSW
Day and Time: TBD
Location: First Floor, Brooks Room 96
First Generation Low Income Conversations (FLI)
FGLI Conversations will meet on a monthly basis to discuss different topics affecting FGLI student. Goals include helping students to connect with ohters and learn about their shared identities while also learning coping skills to manage distress associated with managing relationships, intearcting with families, returning home, self-care, and managing imposter syndrome.
Group Leader: Christy Dabreo-Otero, M.A.
Time, Dates & Locations: TBD
Evaluation for Medication
Some students come to the Furman Counseling Center with symptoms that seriously interfere with their ability to work, study, relax, and/or socialize. The student might experience herself as depressed or anxious; her symptoms might be physical or mood-related or both. If your counselor believes that, in conjunction with your other concerns, you have symptoms that would respond well to medication, she/he owes it to you to suggest this. This suggestion will be the beginning of a conversation between the two of you in which you can discuss your feelings about medication, and ask any questions that you might have. If, together, you decide to consider how medication may be of help to you, your counselor can refer you to one of the Counseling Center's psychiatrists for an evaluation. These appointments can be made by referral only.
Your evaluation will consist of meetings with the psychiatrist where you will discuss the issues that brought you to the Counseling Center, as well as the symptoms that you are experiencing. If your psychiatrist decides to prescribe medication, she/he will describe the expected course of treatment and the proper way to take your medication. She/he will also address any concerns or questions that you have. Even if both your therapist and psychiatrist are recommending you start medications, you are free to decide not to, without compromising your treatment here in anyway. Students need to be comfortable with their threatment plan, including possible medication.
At the Furman Counseling Center, we believe that the most effective way to use psychoactive medication is in combination with psychotherapy. Accordingly, if your psychiatrist prescribes medication for you, you'll continue to meet with your individual counselor once a week, and will schedule follow-up visits with your psychiatrist at whatever intervals she/he thinks appropriate. While we can start students on medications, we can't provide coverage for the long term, so if you decide to begin or continue medications, we will assist you with a referral for a psychiatrist in the community.
Some students are already following a course of treatment that includes medication when they come to Barnard. If you are taking medication prescribed by a psychiatrist at home, and would like to work with a psychiatrist in Manhattan who can monitor your progress, we would be happy to provide you with a referral.
A counseling-related emergency refers to a situation in which imminent risk is posed to someone's life or safety. These situations could include suicidal risk, as well as a risk of physical danger from one person to another.
If an emergency occurs during office hours, call the Furman Counseling Center at 854-2092, or Health Services at 854-2091. Regular office hours are 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., Monday through Friday.
If an emergency arises after hours or on the weekends, telephone consultation is available by calling the After-hours Psychological Emergency Line at (855) 622-1903. If the counselor and you determine that immediate, in-person intervention is required, we utilize Mount Sinai/St.Luke's Hospital as our primary treatment resource. Mount Sinai/St. Luke's is located at the corner of 113th Street and Amsterdam Avenue, and the counselor will call ahead to St.Luke's to arrange assistance for you.
Other useful emergency contacts are:
- Primary Care Health Service Emergency Line (855) 622-1903
- Barnard Public Safety (212) 854-3362
- Mount Sinai St Luke's Hospital, Psychiatric Emergency Room (212) 523 - 3347
- Sexual Violence Response & Rape Crisis/Anti-Violence Support Center. Available 24/7, (212) 854-HELP (4357)
Referrals for Therapy or Medication
Because we are a short-term clinic, students interested in long-term support or who are on medication, will need a referral into the community. The Furman Counseling Center maintains an extensive referral network of psychologists, psychiatrists, and social workers – many of whom are providers for different insurance networks. They offer a range of specialties, many different languages, and represent different cultures and identities. It’s essential that a treatment provider really understand the complexities of intersectional identities our students experience.
But, can I afford it?
We have clinicians who take many insurances, some who offer sliding scale fees, and a range of clinic options from free to low fee services. We are committed to everyone being able to get good care, regardless of their financial resources. We work tirelessly to match students to providers that are right for them and affordable.
Furman Counseling - We're Where You Live!!!! Literally - if you live in Plimpton or Elliot. Come to Listening Hours!
Here's how they work:
- WHAT : A free, confidential, drop-in meeting with a counselor. Stop by for just a few minutes or stay for a half an hour to talk about whatever is on your mind. No appointment necessary.
- WHO : Listening Hours are held by counselors from the Furman Counseling Center.
- WHERE : In Plimpton - in the GHD office on the ground floor, the 1st door to the left as you enter Plimpton
In Elliot - in the conference room on the ground floor, directly behind and to the right of the security desk.
- WHEN : Mondays from 7p.m. to 8:45 p.m. in Plimpton Hall
Thursdays from 7p.m. - 8:45 p.m. in Elliott Hall
- WHY : Because sometimes you need to check in with someone in the moment - maybe you're stressed about your exam tomorrow, maybe you just had a fight with your partner, or maybe you've been interested in checking out the Furman Counseling Center but want to give a quick check-in a try first.
- HOW : Come to the office between the hours of 7p.m. and 8:45 p.m. If the door is open, just walk on in and say, "I'm here for Listening Hours". If the door is closed, write down the time slot that you'd like to return on the form posted on the door. When you come back, the door will be opened and waiting for you.
We're looking forward to it.
Schedule: Fall 2019 Sessions:
Counselor: Christy Dabreo, M.A.
Mondays from 7pm - 8:45p.m.
Starting September 9 until December 12, 2019 (closed during academic break/holidays)
Counselor: Anna Lin, Ph.D.
Thursdays from 7pm - 8:45 p.m.
Starting September 9 until December 12, 2019 (closed during academic break/ holidays)
Consultations to Students, Faculty, and Staff
- A residence hall floor where eating disorders is a concern
- A campus office that needs to work through a multicultural issue
- A peer-counseling group that would like communication skills training
- A group of faculty members who would like to discuss ways of reaching out to students in distress
- A student organization whose members are stressed out
What do they all have in common? They could all call us for back-up! In offering consultation services to the Barnard community, the Furman Counseling Center is offering to come to you -- your residence hall floor, your organization, your office, your club, your department. Through our consultation work, our goal is a community whose members work better together and take better care of each other.
If you think that we might be able to collaborate with a group that you're part of, just give us a call at (212) 854-2092.
The Furman staff provides outreach services, including workshops and trainings, for students, staff, and faculty in the Barnard community. We also consult and collaborate with different student groups and campus resources to help promote and address wellness issues across campus. In all that we do, we aim to highlight the importance of psychological and socio-emotional wellness on success and well-being.
Biofeedback is a technique that teaches you how to control your body's reaction to stress. When we are stressed our breathing and heart rate may become irregular and stress hormones are released. During biofeedback, you're connected to a sensor that helps you receive information (feedback) about your body (bio). This feedback helps you focus on making subtle changes to your breath and your thoughts to control your heart rate. This can help you achieve a feeling of calm and decrease the release of stress hormones. With practice, you will be able to change your breathing and heart rate anytime you find yourself anxious or stressed to help you relax immediately.
How do I know if Biofeedback could help me?
If you are currently seeing a counselor at Furman, tell them you are interested in learning more about biofeedback and together you will decide if this program would be beneficial for you. If you are not currently seeing a Furman clinician, just call the front desk at (212) 854-2092 and tell them you are interested in scheduling an appointment to learn more about the biofeedback program.
What are the steps for starting biofeedback training at Furman?
1. Schedule a 30 minutes Biofeedback Orientation with a Furman clinician. During this meeting you will discuss how biofeedback may be able to benefit you. You will get to see how the program works and have an opportunity to try it out! During the orientation session you can ask any questions you may have about biofeedback.
2. After you have completed your Biofeedback Orientation meeting you will receive a Biofeedback Lab Access Card. This card allows you to enter the biofeedback lab (located in the Furman Counseling Center 100 Hewitt Hall and Well Woman office in 119 Reid Hall) during Biofeedback Lab Hours to practice on your own.
3. To receive maximum benefits from biofeedback training you should expect to visit the lab at a minimum of 6-10 times, with each biofeedback session lasting approximately 20 minutes. In between sessions, you can practice the breathing technique that you learned during orientation. Also, no need to schedule time in the biofeedback lab. Just drop in anytime during the open hours below with your access card!
Current Relaxation & Biofeedback Hours: Fall and Spring semesters (closed during academic break / holidays)
Monday - Thursday 9:30 am - 5 p.m.
Friday: 9:30 - 4 pm