Counseling for College Students

Our culture depicts college as a landscape of party, satisfaction, and blissful ignorance. So then why does it sometimes feel like you’ve missed the memo on what college is “supposed to be
like”?

Why did the Mayo Clinic reveal that up to 44% of college students reported having symptoms of
depression and anxiety?

Why is it that in 2019, nearly 90% of university counseling center directors reported an increase in the number of students seeking counseling services?

As you well know, college is the catalyst for your growth: personal, academic, career, or otherwise.  These few years will be the period in your life where you have the opportunity to develop an identity and lifestyle for yourself that carries with you for the rest of your life. This can put immense pressure on you to perform well in all aspects of your life.

More often than we would like to admit, it gets to be too much. Having to balance your schoolwork, social commitments, relationships, clubs, sports, and your mental and emotional health can be an exponential increase in responsibility from life before college. For even the most self-driven autonomous individuals, this sudden addition of pressure and responsibility can be intimidating, daunting, or even traumatizing.

Talking to a professional experienced in working with college aged students can help you navigate these stresses within an environment of open communication. Your counselor will work to instill healthy strategies to confront pressure and stress when they come about.

COVID-related Stress

The onset of COVID-19 has thrown an earth-sized wrench into the world of student mental health. Social limitation orders to combat the spread of the virus might have taken a hit on your opportunity for social interactions, leading to an increase in feelings of disconnection and loneliness on America’s campuses.

If you have problematic family situations back at home, you may face demanding and mentally burdensome dynamics if sent home for COVID-related reasons, which can worsen existing mental health conditions.

The COVID curveball also disrupted the hiring and recruiting processes for many industries, which you might have experienced first-hand. College is supposed to prepare you for the real world, but if the real world is put on pause because of a once in a lifetime pandemic, it can lay massive stress on your shoulders.

Social, family, career, and financial uncertainty is likely a common stress felt among your peers and it is important to know how to cope with these uncertainties. Contacting a professional experienced in working with college-aged students can offer you coping mechanisms to overcome the “age of COVID”.

Most Common Types of Stress

Before COVID, however, the most frequent concerns that students reported were anxiety, depression, and you might have guessed it: relationship issues. These descriptions of anxiety and depression can typically be boxed into different categories defined by where the stress originated from.

Social Stress

“Whenever two people meet, there are really six people present. There is each man as he sees himself, each man as the other person sees him, and each man as he really is.” – William James

Our perception of ourselves defines the way that we see the world and the way that we think the world sees us. When we have a negative self-concept about ourselves or a poor self-esteem complex, our social lives can noticeably change. We might have difficulty connecting with others, connecting within relationships, or fitting in with groups.

Personal Stress

Mental health issues can take the form of so many different identities. You might notice yourself more anxious than usual, but are unsure of the cause of it. You might have difficulty controlling your strong emotions, like sadness or anger. You might find it harder to focus on tasks at hand, or to understand new concepts.

Whatever form your personal stresses manifest into, the best way to deal with them is not to wish them away; it is to learn healthy coping strategies to beat them out the next time they come.

Racially or Ethnically motivated stresses

Experienced therapists are receptive to the needs of students from racial and ethnic minority groups, who may be facing specific social ramifications from the COVID pandemic and/or the nationwide reckoning of police brutality and racial injustice.

Career Stress

Fundamentally, college is designed to be the education institution that educates you on what you need to know in order to succeed within your future job, whatever that may be. However, oftentimes, we find ourselves anxious about our future careers. We might ask ourselves:

  • “Do I really want to do this job for the rest of my life?”,
  • “Do I actually enjoy learning what I am studying?”,
  • “Can I make a decent living from this career?”,
  • “Am I even going to find a job in this industry?”

 

Stress about the future and your career is common for college-aged individuals because it is the pivot point of our lives: between our adolescence and the “real world”. Learning to be aware of our own wants and needs is essential in being confident in our career choices and our experienced therapists are here to guide you along the way.

Academic Stress

Imposter syndrome is feelings of self-doubt and perceived incompetence despite your education, experience, and accomplishments. It might make you feel like you don’t belong where you are or you might feel like a total fraud.

You might just feel overwhelmed with all that college has to offer in terms of classwork, exams, extracurricular activities. Time management might be a struggle for you if you have not been forced to learn this skill in your past.

Counseling Can Help College Students Cope and Adapt

Whatever form your anxiety or depression might take in the face of stress, talking to an experienced therapist can help you to gain a better understanding and awareness into yourself.

Gaining insight into your thinking patterns and emotional processing can help you to recognize and deal with certain emotions when they come up. This is far more desirable than letting them go unnoticed or undealt with, which happens far too often with college students.

Therapy has no bounds in the problems that it can help overcome. Experienced psychoanalysts have dedicated their professions to learning the intricacies of the human psyche and therapists specializing in working with college students know in depth the challenges that you might be facing.

You might work with your therapist to develop strategies to overcome social anxieties through cognitive behavior therapy (CBT).

Your counselor might work intimately with you to develop healthy time management habits to improve your ability to handle the workload that college brings.

After your first evaluation session, your counselor might assess that you would benefit greatly from exercises that boost your self-image and confidence.

What to Expect When Going into Therapy

The first session is typically called the “evaluation” session in which you and your counselor start a running dialogue on what is on your mind. They might note your emotions, behaviors, and stressors in order to generate an idea of what psychological strategy might best suit your needs.

The next weeks will be dedicated to learning skills to help you deal with stressful situations, whether social, academic, or personal.

Remember: your therapist’s goal is not to help you to remove your problems from your life (this is typically regarded as a futile attempt in fixing your problems).

Your therapist’s goal is to help you to take control over your emotions. They will work to guide you through healthy coping techniques so that if negative emotions or situations come up again, you will be well equipped to deal with them and come out a stronger individual.

Listen To Your Mind and Your Body: They Know What They Need

One of the most important wisdoms I have taken from living as a college student is that you have to love yourself like you would love your child. You have needs, both biologically and psychologically, and your body has specific ways of showing you when one is not met.

When you feel a flu coming on, you treat yourself by going to a doctor. When you notice yourself dozing off in classes, you treat yourself by taking a nap. When you notice feelings of loneliness, you should contact friends or family.

If you have an inclination that you might benefit from talking to a professional, then you should listen to yourself and take that first step in your mental health journey.

College is a pivotal point in your life. It can add great stress to your life, given all of the new circumstances that you might find yourself thrusted into.

We here at Deep Connections Counseling have specialized therapists who understand that. We are experienced in working with college students and helping them deal with their emotions and challenges and come out as mentally stronger individuals.

If you decide to schedule a talk with one of our therapists today, let us know your situation as a college student along with some of the troubles you might be facing.

We know where to go from there.

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Deep Connections Counseling

Call or Text: (757) 704-5558
hello@deepconnectionscounseling.com

Serving Virginia and North Carolina