Counseling Center

What to Expect and Confidentiality

The counseling relationship is a unique one, accompanied by certain rights, responsibilities, and protections. For those considering counseling, this section provides an overview of the counseling process: what to expect from counseling, what your role is in counseling, and what the guidelines are concerning confidentiality.

Counseling Process Expectations

You can expect to meet with someone who is interested in listening to your concerns and in helping you develop a better understanding of them so that you may deal with them more easily and effectively. Your counselor will take you seriously and be willing to openly discuss anything you wish to discuss. Please feel free to ask your therapist questions about herself or himself, if this feels important to you.

Because counselors have different strategies as to how to assist you, they may differ on how much talking they do in sessions, whether they ask you to do homework, and their focus of discussion. If you have any questions about your therapy, by all means ask. Counselors have no magical skills or knowledge, and will be unable to solve your problems directly for you. Your counselor will want to work with you and will support you in what you are capable of doing for yourself.

Your counselor will maintain strict confidentiality except under unusual circumstances. If you have any questions about the limits of confidentiality, please bring them up with your counselor.

Within the context of the therapeutic relationship (the professional relationship between the student/client and the therapist), you have certain responsibilities that when adhered to, may help you work more effectively toward meeting your therapeutic goals.   These responsibilities include:

  • Attending your scheduled appointments.  If you are not able to attend, please let your counselor or the Counseling Center front desk staff know with at least 24 hours’ notice, so that someone else can use that appointment time.
  • Talking openly and honestly with your counselor about your concerns.  You have certain rights of confidentiality and you are encouraged to discuss these with your counselor if you are unclear about them.
  • Your counselor may ask you to try a new behavior, adapt your thinking, better manage your emotional responses or experiment with a different approach to your concerns.  You are encouraged to try and practice these new ideas and approaches outside of the counseling session.

Please communicate with your counselor about any improvements (or not) you become aware of regarding your concerns.  Your feedback is important and can help your counselor adapt her/his approach to better meet your needs.

Learn more about mental health at the University of Washington:


The APA Code of Ethics and Washington State law consider the personal information you discuss in counseling to be confidential. This means that no record of counseling is made on an academic transcript, and that information regarding your counseling is not released without your written permission, unless otherwise indicated by law as noted below. This means that if you want someone else to be informed that you have received services at the Counseling Center, you must sign a specific authorization to disclose information.  Electronic records are kept of your appointments.

Information about your contact with the Counseling Center will not be shared with others outside the Counseling Center without your written consent, except in specific circumstances described below:

  • If there is imminent danger to the health and safety of yourself or another person;
  • The information involves the abuse or neglect of a child (under 18 years) or vulnerable adult. Counselors are required to report such incidents to authorities;
  • You bring charges against your counselor, and/or the counseling center;
  • We receive a court order for your records.