Counseling Services

Since 1990, the Women’s Center has offered individual, couples and group counseling services to University of Virginia students, faculty and staff, as well as to members of the Charlottesville community. Counseling is offered for both men and women individually, as well as for couples. We offer clients an empowerment-based counseling model through which we integrate evidence-based practice with a person-centered approach. We support survivors of all genders who have experienced rape; sexual assault; stalking; domestic violence; emotional, psychological and verbal abuse; as well as other concerns. Additionally, we are available to support survivors’ friends, family members and significant others.

The counseling staff at the Women’s Center is composed of advanced master’s students from counseling programs in Virginia. We partner with James Madison University, Virginia Commonwealth University and Lynchburg College to offer a valuable internship experience for students. We have a full-time trauma counselor who works with U.Va. students and staff who have experienced any type of violence. The coordinator for our Body Positive/Eating Disorders Education program is also part of the counseling staff. For more information, follow the link below to our Body Positive program.

You may call our office at (434) 982-2252, Monday through Thursday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. to schedule an appointment with one of our clinicians.

Body Positive at U.Va.: Information about eating, body image and exercise concerns; disordered eating; and eating disorders.

Dealing with Grief: We want to offer some general guidelines about the grief process with the hope that this will be of some help.

Please also read this official statement written by the staff: Trauma-Position-Paper

What is the Counseling Process?

Individual, couples and group counseling services are available for U.Va. students, staff, faculty and alumni, as well as members of the Charlottesville community. Some people may initially feel hesitant about seeking counseling services. They worry that coming in for counseling may indicate that something is “wrong” with them. However, most people who come in for counseling report that it is a very positive and productive experience and often recommend it to their friends. The counseling staff is trained to work with you on a wide range of issues. Here is a partial list of common client concerns:

  • Depression
  • Homesickness
  • Stress
  • Anxiety
  • Alcohol or drugs
  • Eating concerns
  • Academic anxieties
  • Roommate and friendship problems
  • Family problems
  • Sexual concerns
  • Identity concerns

 

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When you call the counseling office, a clinician will gather some basic information from you. You will then be asked to schedule an appointment, or you will be added to our waiting list. Your first appointment is called an “intake” and is scheduled for one hour. When you arrive for your appointment, you will be asked to fill out a few forms in order to gather information about you and your concerns. The intake session is the time for you to tell the story about what brought you to the Women’s Center for help at this time of your life.

At the end of the first session, the counselor will help you to summarize your concerns and identify some goals for counseling. This is when you and the counselor will clarify if your needs will be met with individual, couples and/or group counseling, and you will make a follow-up appointment that fits your schedule. In some cases, you and your counselor might determine that your needs would be better served by another agency or service provider. If this is the case, your counselor will help you to make the necessary arrangements. The Women’s Center does not provide crisis counseling and does not have 24-hour coverage available for counseling services.

The number of counseling sessions and length of the sessions vary based on client needs, but typically 10 sessions seem to be helpful and most sessions last 50 minutes. If you are going to be late for a session or need to miss a session, we ask that you call to let your counselor know. To cancel a session, please give at least 24 hours notice so that other clients who are waiting for services can be offered your cancelled time.

Confidentiality: Information you disclose in clinical sessions is confidential and may not be released to anyone outside of the Counseling Services program/graduate program faculty without your written permission. The Women’s Center adheres to professional, legal and ethical guidelines established by professional organizations and state laws. Legal and ethical exceptions to confidentiality are provided to clients in writing and will be discussed in your intake session. Sessions are audio-taped for the educational needs of the counseling interns. This will also be discussed with you in your intake session.

 

Group Counseling

Group counseling consists of several people meeting with a counselor to discuss common concerns and life issues. Group members give feedback and support to each other in a safe environment. The first few sessions of a group typically focus on establishing trust and getting to know the counselor and group members. Group trust is achieved when all members make a commitment to the group.

Group counseling can be helpful in several ways. Members experience the feeling of not being alone while working through their personal concerns. Members have an opportunity to help each other and receive feedback about communication skills and other behaviors, both of which can be rewarding and enable positive changes in other relationship patterns. Group experience can increase self-awareness as well as offer a safe place to practice new behaviors.

Staff

Charlotte Chapman, Director of Counseling (cmc5nq@virginia.edu)

Margaret Edwards, Trauma Counselor (me8n@virginia.edu)

Cathy Erickson, Trauma Counselor (ce6n@virginia.edu)

Latoria White, Resident in Counseling (lew9a@virginia.edu)

Important Resources

Active Minds A student group that works toward removing the stigma of mental illness and promotes an open environment to discuss mental health concerns.

CAPS Counseling and Psychological Services at U.Va.

Coalition Against Drug Abuse

Gordie Center for Substance Abuse Prevention

HOPE Hoos Open to Preventing Eating Disorders, a student group raising awareness about body positive issues.

MHA Mental Health America has listings of therapists, crisis numbers and support groups for the Charlottesville community.

SARA Sexual Assault Resources Agency in Charlottesville

SHE Shelter for Help in Emergency in Charlottesville

Tips for Coping with Stress

The Women’s Initiative counseling services in Charlottesville offered on a sliding scale