Counseling Center

Mental Health Resources

The following sections contain important information about a variety of mental health-related topics. We hope this information will be useful in learning more about how to help yourself or another person.

Getting to Know Yourself and Your Career Path

Are you an introvert or an extrovert?

UW students enjoying the sun on the Suzzallo Library Stairs.

While the hustle and bustle of meeting new people, finding one’s way around a new campus, and living in close quarters with unfamiliar people may be very energizing for some people, it is quite draining for others. The difference may be largely due to differing personality preferences. Understanding more about introversion and extraversion can help you understand and appreciate the ways in which you prefer to interact with others.

Many students find it helpful to take the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator as a way of gaining self-understanding, improving their relationships, and gaining a stronger sense of direction regarding their career choice. The Counseling Center offers the Myers Briggs (often referred to as the MBTI); check out our Career Exploration page for details about how to take the assessment and receive an interpretation.

Remember, both introverts and extroverts can have deep and satisfying relationships with others, but each type goes about this process in a different way.

Career Exploration`

Mental Health Apps

Mental Health Apps

There are many apps for both Android and iPhone operating systems that can help with sleep, relaxation, meditation, mindfulness and other mental health-related subjects. Here we have collected some of the apps that our students and staff have found helpful. Of course, there are many more apps than what are listed below, but our hope is that you would use these as a launch pad to help find the perfect app for you. We’ve also provided links to some TED talks and websites that contain information related to counseling and wellness.

Mental Health Apps

headspace
Headspace
A meditation app that offers free intro of 10, 10-minute sessions of meditation.
stop breathe think
Stop, Breathe & Think
A free mindfulness app.
A blue icon with the word 'ACT'.
ACT Coach
A free acceptance and Commitment Therapy app that includes concepts, exercises, and tracking.
App icon: green background with white wave.
Pacifica
CBT based app for anxiety, stress, and depression; free with in-app purchases.
App icon: black square with words 'Breathe2Relax'
Breathe2Relax
A free app for deep breathing.
App icon: fox on blue background.
Booster Buddy
A free behavioral activation focused wellness app.
App icon: three circles in green, blue, and yellow on a white background.
My3
A free safety planning app.
App icon for Exam Support: red square with a green boy's head.
Exam Support
A test anxiety app for $2.99.

Insight Timer
A free mindfulness bell.
App icon: blue square with red star on lower left corner.
Virtual Hope Box 
Helps with emotion regulation and coping skills.

Mindfulness and Relaxation Videos and Podcasts

Mindfulness and Relaxation Videos and Podcasts

Videos

Yoga for Stress and Anxiety

TEDTalk: The Power of Vulnerability

TEDTalk: The Power of Introverts

Podcasts

We hope you find these podcasts helpful for increasing relaxation and reducing stress, including exam stress. Listen to one or all to see how they might fit for you.

It is ideal to do relaxation techniques at least a few times per week in order to get the most benefit; however, we believe that any time spent getting more relaxed is valuable. Once you get the gist of these recordings, you should be able to practice these techniques on your own anytime.

Check back periodically, as we hope to add more podcasts in the future.
If you have trouble playing any of these files, please try using Mozilla Firefox.

Deep Breathing (6:39)


Beach Visualization (12:53)

Progressive Muscle Relaxation (15:25)*

*Begins with instructions, repeat listeners may skip to 3:20 to begin the exercise.

Exam Rehearsal Visualization (11:07)

If you’d like more details about the research supporting relaxation techniques, you can check out this link:  http://nccam.nih.gov/health/stress/relaxation.htm

Some people may find that techniques like these are helpful on their own, while others find that they work best as a supplement to counseling.  Please contact us at the Counseling Center if your stress impacts your ability to function for several days or weeks, or gets worse over time.  These self-help tools are not intended to be a substitute for therapy or professional assistance.  Finally, if you are taking medication for heart disease or blood pressure problems, please consult with your doctor before using these relaxation techniques.

UW Mindfulness Programs

For more information on the UW Mindfulness programs, click here.
Pages from UWmindfulnessW17

Getting Connected at UW

Getting Connected at UW

You finally unpacked all the boxes, your weekly schedule is mapped out, and you’re starting to find your favorite eateries on the Ave, but a big challenge looms: How will I ever meet people here?
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1. Gauge your interests, and then head to places where kindred spirits are likely to gather.

Perhaps you have a hobby or a favorite activity, such as listening to hip-hop or watching old movies. One of the benefits of a large campus community is the abundance of groups and clubs reflecting diverse interests. Check out the Student Activity Office listing of Registered Student Organizations.

2. Strike up some school spirit.

While it might be tempting to blow off events such as floor meetings or Dawg Daze, you’ll be missing a prime opportunity to meet other new students if you skip out. Make it a point to show up and introduce yourself to at least 3 other people at each of these university events.
UW students enjoying the sun a on hammock at Rainier Vista.

3. Send friendly signals.

People may not know you’re looking for connection if you walk through your residence hall lobby with downcast eyes, your phone clutched anxiously in one hand and a cup of coffee in the other. When you’re hoping to meet people, it’s usually more effective to smile, make eye contact, and be open to passing conversations that might lead to a more lasting connection.
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4. Find a way to make the campus “smaller”.

There’s no doubt that this is a big place, but students who feel most at home on the campus are typically those who have found smaller communities with which to identify. This might happen through your FIG, through participation on an intramural sports team, or through your involvement in a local faith community. Other people carve out their niche through a part-time job or volunteer opportunity. The UW can feel much smaller when you have a community of people with whom you feel at home.
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5. Give it some time, and ask for help if you need it.

It will take awhile for your new friendships here to feel as familiar and comfortable as the ones you’re likely leaving behind. So be gentle with yourself and focus on taking small steps to reach out and build connections. If you’re struggling and would like to talk with a counselor about these issues, consider setting up an appointment at the Counseling Center. Group therapy can be an especially helpful experience for people who want to learn more about how to form healthy relationships.

Academic Success

Tips for Academic Success

Cassady Glass Hastings, undergraduate instructor at the college of education

1. Realistically Plan Your Time

Time management skills can help you feel more in control of your life so that you can find more free time and more effective study time.

  • Structure your academic schedule as if it were a 40-hour work week.
  • Use a planner or calendar to write down all your regularly scheduled activities as well as any due dates for papers or exams. Plan time for sleep, exercise, and social activity.
  • Determine your best study environment and time of the day. Plan study time each week that is consistent with your style.
  • Take ten minutes before each class to review your notes from the previous class. Take ten minutes after each class to “fix up” and review the notes just taken.
  • Break large or overwhelming tasks into smaller manageable steps.
  • Reward yourself for completing tasks. This means noting what you have accomplished even if an entire project is not complete.

Students in the Master's in Education Policy class at Denny Hall taught by Marguerite Roza and Laura Anderson

2. Read Actively

  • Before you read, preview the material in the chapter. Read any introductions or chapter summaries.
  • Have a purpose when you read. You may want to think of a question that you are trying to answer in each section of material. Do not move ahead in the chapter until you can answer your question. Ask yourself, “Am I getting it?” If not, go back and find the place where you last understood the material and reread.
  • Focus on the main idea and any supporting information.
  • Take notes as you read. Try making an outline of the material by organizing the main ideas and each supporting detail.
  • In your own words, write a brief summary of the main ideas. Or, draw a diagram illustrating the relationships between the main ideas.

Campus_August_2016-1576

3. Maximize Your Memory Potential

  • Before trying to memorize, assess your level of concentration. If you are not able to focus, you are not likely to retain much information. Determine what you need to be able to focus (e.g., food, a short nap, a walk, several deep breaths, etc.), take care of this need then refocus.
  • Use flash cards. Write a word or formula on the front of a card and its definition on the back. Go through the cards until you can define each word correctly.
  • Create acronyms. Make up a word or phrase using the first letter of each term you what to remember (e.g., the spectrum of colors in a rainbow can be remembered with Roy G. Biv = red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, violet).
  • Draw diagrams of concepts that you are trying to remember. Be able to verbally explain the concept and reproduce the diagram.
  • Study to the point of recall, not simply recognition. This means that you can define and explain material in your own words.

Intercollegiate Athletic Leadership (IAL) Program at the HUB taught by Hannah Olson, Sara Lopez, Jennifer Hoffman and Jess Serio at the HUB.

4. Take Tests Wisely

  • Pay close attention to directions, both oral and written.
  • Skim the entire exam before answering anything, then plan your time according to difficulty and value of each item.
  • Answer the easy questions first, then go back and do the more difficult questions. Pay attention to information in questions that may help in other parts of the exam.
  • Watch out for qualifier words in questions (e.g., none, some, frequently, never, most, etc.).
  • BREATHE–10 deep, abdominal breaths will help release tension and enhance your focus. Remind yourself that your entire future does not rest on one test and that you will learn from this experience regardless of how well you do on the exam.

Test Anxiety Handout `Test Taking Tips`

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5. Understand Your Stress

  • Recognize how you typically respond to stress (physically, emotionally and cognitively).
  • Assess your stress level before you begin studying. If you are experiencing a high degree of stress you won’t be able to study as effectively.
  • Respond to your stress by engaging in physical activity, finding someone to talk to, and finding healthy ways to play (e.g., listening to music, reading, playing sports, etc.).
  • Remember, some anxiety or stress is normal and can actually enhance your performance!

Anxiety

Social Anxiety

Social Anxiety is a specific type of anxiety that involves a strong, persistent fear related to interactions with others. People who suffer from Social Anxiety Disorder tend to avoid situations in which they must meet new people, interact with those they don’t know well, or be scrutinized by others. They may be afraid they’ll behave awkwardly or embarrass themselves by showing how anxious they are. When they must function in a social situation (such as answering a question in class), they may become extremely anxious. Watch the video below to learn more about how it feels to have Social Anxiety.

Want to learn more? Read this article from the National Institutes of Mental Health to discover more about the symptoms and treatment of Social Anxiety.

The Counseling Center offers several services that may be helpful for students with Social Anxiety; call us or drop by to schedule a time to meet with one of our intake counselors for a confidential, one-on-one meeting to assess your needs.

Thinking of Coming Out?

Coming out is a process of understanding, accepting, and valuing your sexual orientation/identity. It involves both exploring your identity and sharing your identity with others. Coming out can be a gradual process or one that is very sudden. The first step usually involves coming out to yourself, often with a realization that feelings you’ve had for some time make sense if you can define them as gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender or queer.

Coming out can be a very difficult process. Our society strongly enforces codes of behavior regarding sexual orientation and gender identity, and most people receive the message that they must be heterosexual and act according to society’s definition of their gender. For gay, lesbian, and bisexual persons, there may be a sense of being different or of not fitting in to the roles expected of you by your family, friends, workplace or greater society. Coming out involves facing societal responses and attitudes toward LGBTQ people. You may feel ashamed, isolated, and afraid.

Although coming out can be difficult, it can also be a very liberating and freeing process. You may feel like you can finally be authentic and true to who you are. You may find a whole community of people like you and feel supported and inspired. Even if it’s scary to think about coming out to others, sometimes the reward can be worth the challenge that coming out entails.

Individuals do not move through the coming out process at the same speed. The process is very personal. It happens in different ways and occurs at different ages for different people. Some people are aware of their sexual identity at an early age, and others arrive at this awareness after many years. Coming out is a continuing, sometimes lifelong, process.

Once you accept that you’re lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or queer, you can decide to be out to others or to stay “in the closet.” You are the only person who can decide when and how it is safe to come out. You may decide to come out in one part of your life and not in another. For example, some people are out to their families but in the closet at work; some people are out at school but in the closet with their families.

Six Stages to Coming Out

The Cass Theory, developed by Vivian Cass (1979) is a six stage model that describes the developmental process individuals go through as they consider and then acquire a homosexual identity. This model includes lesbian, gay and bisexual identities. You may find yourself in one of these stages. Know that what you are experiencing is completely normal and that many, many others have had similar experiences.

  • Stage 1 – Identity Confusion: You begin to wonder whether you may be homosexual. Along with other thoughts and feelings, you may experience denial and confusion.
  • Stage 2 – Identity Comparison: You accept the possibility that you may be gay and face the social isolation that can occur with this new identity.
  • Stage 3 – Identity Tolerance: Your acceptance of your homosexuality increases, and you begin to tolerate this identity. Although confusion and distress concerning your sexual orientation decreases, you may feel increased isolation and alienation as your self-concept becomes increasingly different from society’s expectation of you. In this stage, you often begin to make contact with members of the LGB community.
  • Stage 4 – Identity Acceptance: You have resolved most of the questions concerning your sexual identity and have accepted yourself as homosexual. You have increasing contact with the LGB community
  • Stage 5 – Identity Pride: You begin to feel pride in being part of the LGB community and immerse yourself into LGB culture. In turn, you have less contact with the heterosexual community. Sometimes you may actually feel angry with or reject the heterosexual community.
  • Stage 6 – Identity Synthesis: You integrate your sexual identity with other aspects of your self so that it is just one part of your whole identity. The anger you may have felt toward the heterosexual community or the intense pride you may have felt in being homosexual decreases, and you can be your whole self with others from both groups. You feel more congruence between your public self and your private self.

Considerations in Coming Out

In coming out to others, consider the following:

  • Pick someone who you feel is very supportive to be the first person you come out to.
  • When you come out, think about what you want to say and choose the time and place carefully based on what will be most safe and supportive.
  • Be prepared for an initially negative reaction from some people. Some individuals need more time than others to come to adjust to what they have heard from you.
  • Don’t give up hope if you don’t initially get the reaction you wanted. Remember that you have the right to be who you are, and to be out and open about all important aspects of your identity including your sexual orientation. In no case is another person’s rejection evidence of your lack of worth or value.
  • If you have already come out to others whom you trust, alert them that you are coming out and make time to talk afterward about how things went. Find trusted allies who can help you cope with your experiences.
  • Get support and use the resources available to you.

Resources for LGBTQ Students 

For gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and queer people the coming out process can be both difficult and liberating. For most people it takes time to know who you are. It is okay to be confused, or to be uncertain about whether or how to come out. Remember, you are not alone. There are many others with the same questions and concerns that you have. There are also people and organizations that can support or mentor you. It’s important to find the help you need from the resources available to you. Here are some resources that may be helpful.

Online and Written Resources:

One safe means of beginning to come out to yourself is through reading about how others have dealt with similar issues. There are many books and articles available on all facets of LGBTQ life. These can include clinical studies on LGBT people, coming out stories, and resources for allies and families of LGBTQ individuals.

Other books related to coming out:

  • Now That You Know. Betty Fairchild & Robert Leighton. New York, NY. Harcourt Brace and Jovanovich, 1989.
  • Beyond Acceptance. Carolyn Welch Griffin, Marina J. Wirth & Arthur G. Wirth. New York, NY. St. Martin’s Press, 1997.
  • Straight Parents/Gay Children. Robert A. Bernstein. New York, NY. Thunder’s Mouth Press, 1995.

Online resource for allies friends and familyParents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG)

University of Washington Resources:

The Q Center is a University of Washington community whose mission is to build and facilitate queer (gay, lesbian, bisexual, two-spirit, trans, intersex, questioning, same-gender-loving, allies) academic and social community though education, advocacy, and support services to achieve a socially-just campus in which all people are valued.  Among many other resources, the Q center offers groups, brief crisis interventions, trainings, a safe and nurturing social space, computers, a library, an online discussion forum, and access to resources in the greater Seattle area.

In addition to describing their many services, the Q Center website offers extensive links to other LGBTQ organizations on campus, such as the QPOCA (Queer People of Color Alliance)and Rainbow Grads, a group aimed at supporting LGBTQ-identified graduate lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, transsexual, intersex, two-spirit, asexual, queer, questioning and allied graduate and professional students.

Counseling Resources: Coming out may be a difficult process and, it can be helpful to seek professional help and support from a counselor or therapist. The counseling services at the University of Washington are affirming of gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and queer people.

Eating and Body Image Concerns

Eating and Body Image Concerns

“I feel fat.” “I hate my body.” “Food is the enemy.” “I wish I could be as skinny as my roommate….”

Sound Familiar? These are phrases you may hear every day on our campus, and you may even utter them yourself. After you’ve heard these negative messages enough times, you may even start to feel that it’s “normal” to have an adversarial relationship with food and your body.

However, what’s normative (i.e., common) is not necessarily what’s healthy or psychologically adaptive! At the Counseling Center, we can help you sort through your questions and concerns about dieting, disordered eating, weight, and body image. It is possible to eat well, have a strong relationship with your body, and start spreading more positive messages about food and body on the UW Campus. It all starts with sorting out your own concerns about food and your body.

Who is at Risk for Eating Problems?

Many students, both male and female, have concerns about their eating, weight, body image, and exercise patterns. We live in a society that places an extremely high value on the achievement of physical “perfection,” and this often leads individuals to take drastic measures to change their physical appearance. Students who have a history of prolonged dieting or who are members of certain subcultures where weight may be restricted (e.g, runners, dancers, etc.) are particularly vulnerable to developing eating problems. People who experienced body-related teasing in childhood or were raised in families that placed a high value on a narrowly-defined physical ideal may also be at higher risk. Finally, anyone who sees their power and influence in the world as being strongly connected to weight or appearance will likely be at higher risk for developing conflicts around food and body image. Disordered eating and exercise behaviors place individuals at risk, both medically and psychologically.

Possible Symptoms

  • Intense fear of weight gain or being “fat”
  • For females, loss of menstrual periods
  • Unusual restriction of the types and amounts of food consumed
  • Repeated episodes of bingeing and purging after meals
  • Feeling out of control during a binge and eating beyond the point of comfortable fullness
  • Use of laxatives, diet pills, or diuretics
  • Extreme concern with body weight and shape
  • Secrecy or ritualization around eating behaviors.

Eating concerns range from mild problems with food and weight to serious, potentially life-threatening conditions that affect a person’s emotional and physical health. Regardless of where you may fall on this continuum, resources are available to help you sort out these issues. The earlier a person with an eating concern seeks treatment, the greater the likelihood of physical and emotional recovery.

How to Help a Friend

If you are concerned that a friend may have an eating problem, please remember that help is available at the Counseling Center and the other resources listed below. The following suggestions may also help you support your friend.

  • Express your concerns in behavioral terms (e.g., “I’ve noticed you don’t come with us to meals anymore”).
  • Don’t feel as if you need to solve the problem; focus on listening instead.
  • Gently suggest counseling, and offer to accompany your friend to the first appointment.
  • If your friend is not responsive and you remain concerned about him/her, consider speaking to an R.A. about your concern or consult with a counselor at the Counseling Center.

What Can You Do to Help Prevent Eating Disorders?

  • Decide to avoid judging others and yourself on the basis of body weight or shape.
  • Become a critical viewer of the media and its messages about self-esteem and body image.
  • Send a strong message of acceptance in the way you talk about your own body and the way you approach food.
    Do not engage in “hate speech” about your own or others’ bodies.
  • Consider seeking counseling to explore your attitude towards food and your body.

Campus Resources

Counseling Center
401 Schmitz Hall
(206) 543-1240
(short-term therapy and outreach presentations)

Hall Health Primary Care Center
Mental Health Clinic
(206) 543-5030
(individual & group therapy, medical evaluation)

The following resources contain useful information about eating disorders, chronic dieting, and body image. When you click on the links below, you will leave the University of Washington’s web page. The University does not manage or control web sites not owned by the University and is not responsible for content on such sites. We encourage you to evaluate the materials and use what you find helpful.

Local Resources

National Eating Disorders Association
603 Stewart Street, Suite 803
Seattle, WA 98101
1-800-931-2237 Information & Referral Line
www.nationaleatingdisorders.org

Web Resources

Eating Disorder Referral & Information Center
www.www.edreferral.com

National Eating Disorders Association
www.nationaleatingdisorders.org

About-Face
www.about-face.org

Coping with the Political Climate

Coping with the Political Climate

We aspire to oppose oppression in all forms.

The University of Washington community continues to be impacted by the political climate including recent immigration executive orders that have amplified Islamo- and xenophobia. At the Counseling Center, we remain committed to affirming and supporting the value and belonging of all students.

We encourage you to reach out to the Counseling Center if you are feeling emotionally overwhelmed or are experiencing negative treatment, threats or more subtle forms of oppression because of race, ethnicity, immigration status, sexual orientation, gender identity, religious affiliation, or other aspects of your identity. Our staff can offer support and provide coping skills.

To schedule an appointment, contact us by phone at (206) 543-1240 or stop by our office between 8:00am-5:00pm M-F (except for Tuesdays when we open at 9:30am). In addition, Let’s Talk offers a chance for students to informally consult with an experienced counselor without an appointment. See our website for more information.

Unplug
Limit your consumption of media, particularly of the 24 hour news and social media variety. Monitor your reactions. Reflect. Set time limits for how long you spend connected to social media.

Refuel

Focus on restoring yourself. Eat well, regulate your sleep patterns, drink water, exercise, watch a movie, laugh, be creative, make art, etc. Incorporate activities that are rejuvenating instead of debilitating.

Connect
Engage with supportive friends, talk with loved ones and/or spend time in comforting environments. Critically engage with your own and others’ reactions but also communicate your boundaries when necessary.

Volunteer
Channel what you feel into positive, rewarding & significant activity. Join a UW and/or Seattle organization that critically challenges individual, cultural and institutional forms of domination.