Free and confidential personal counseling is available to students wishing to address a variety of issues. Whether you are in distress or struggling, seeking to gain a deeper understanding of yourself and your relationships, or working to prevent current concerns from developing into more serious problems, CPS has many options available to assist you during your time at MSU. There are options for individual counseling, group counseling, couples counseling, consultation, as well as seminars and training on special topics. CPS does not prescribe medication, though students can consult about medications at UHP Medical Services. CPS and its affiliated training program are accredited by the International Association of Counseling Services and the American Psychological Association.
Scope of Clinical Practice Statement
Counseling and Psychological Services (CPS) strives to promote the academic success and personal well-being of the students of Montana State University by providing the most appropriate, inclusive, and effective mental health care services available. To best serve the MSU community, CPS provides a variety of clinical services offered within a short-term counseling model, which is focused on assisting students to effectively manage immediate concerns and achieve specific desired changes or goals.
All students are welcome to be seen at CPS for an initial intake assessment where they can discuss their presenting concerns and receive information and recommendations for available treatment options. At the intake appointment, and sometimes during the course of treatment, it may be determined that the needs of a student are outside the CPS scope of practice, or that a student does not meet the service eligibility requirements (Please contact CPS for details on eligibility criteria). When services other than those provided by CPS are recommended by CPS staff, or elected by a student, an attempt will be made to provide appropriate referral resources and guidance to aid students in the process of accessing those services.
CPS will remain available to all MSU students for crisis intervention, emergency services, and/or assistance accessing off-campus mental health resources, regardless of whether a student has been referred to off-campus services. CPS is also available to provide consultation services to students, faculty, staff, and parents to aid in situations involving a mental health concern.
CPS offers the following mental health services to eligible MSU students:
- Group Counseling and Workshops
- Short-Term Individual Counseling
- Short-Term Couples/Relationship Counseling
- Crisis Intervention
- Online Self-Help Resources (Available to all MSU students)
- Educational presentations on topics related to mental health
To provide a clearer picture of those concerns that are commonly addressed in the context of short-term counseling, the following examples are offered. Please recognize this list is not exhaustive and is intended only as a guide.
Concerns commonly addressed at CPS:
- Anxiety (e.g. mild-moderate social/general anxiety, test anxiety, etc.)
- Mood (e.g. depression, anger, guilt, unhappiness)
- Thoughts of suicide
- Academic-related issues (e.g. motivation, procrastination, concentration etc.)
- Relationship issues (e.g. break-ups, communication, isolation)
- Trauma/sexual assault
- Grief and loss
- Adjustment (e.g. transition to college, changing life circumstances)
- Identity (e.g. personal, cultural, gender, sexual, racial/ethnic, religious, etc.)
- Substance use concerns (e.g. mild-moderate alcohol/marijuana use issues)
To further illustrate those concerns that are likely to fall outside of the CPS scope of practice, the following set of examples is provided. As mentioned above, this list is not exhaustive and intended only as a guide.
Concerns/circumstances likely to fall outside of the CPS scope of practice:
- Concerns that require frequent counseling sessions (i.e. more than one-time weekly appointments) or long-term care.
- Specialized or intensive treatment (e.g. Outpatient/Inpatient care for Eating Disorders)
- Formal psychological assessments (e.g. ADHD, learning disability evaluations)
- Mandated counseling or mental health evaluations
- Services initiated for class credit or as a course requirement
- Concerns being addressed concurrently by another mental health provider
- Lack of consistent attendance/adherence to recommended treatment
- Need for “reaching out” to students who have not initiated treatment at CPS
- Services initiated for the sole purpose of obtaining documentation for another office (e.g. documentation for emotional support animal)
At times, CPS clinicians may provide services that extend beyond the stated scope of practice. In general, these services are time-limited, individualized, and based upon considerations for client welfare and clinical judgment.
To learn more about our services or to schedule an appointment, stop by our office or call us at (406) 994-4531.
You can also refer to the “Our Services” and “Frequently Asked Questions” pages on the CPS website to learn more about the ways CPS is available to support the mental health and personal well-being of MSU students.
Individual counseling involves you working one-on-one with a counselor. Counseling is effective because it allows you to talk about problems, feelings, or concerns with an objective third party. You can also gain insights and perspectives you may not have thought about on your own. We view our role as one that provides support and guidance in order to help you explore and better understand your concerns or find solutions that work for you.
CPS provides couples counseling to any couple in a committed relationship. As long as one person in the couple is eligible for services the couple can be seen at CPS. Couples counseling typically involves the couple coming in together for sessions with their counselor(s) and working on goals mutually agreed upon by both parties.
Let's Talk About Groups.
Group counseling can be one of the most effective strategies to address many of the issues and concerns commonly experienced by college students. Counseling groups are often a place where students come together in a safe environment and support one another as they navigate concerns and address struggles. Groups allow students to share their experiences with peers who can likely relate to their concerns and understand their difficulties. Group can also provide unique opportunities to increase our knowledge of self and others, connect across differences, and learn new perspectives. Through group engagement, students can develop insights and skills that help them address challenges and deepen connections.
We understand that for some, the idea of joining a counseling group may sound intimidating and can even create some anxiety. That hesitation and uncertainty is normal, especially if sharing personal thoughts and feelings with others will be a new experience. However, most students report this anxiety is temporary and gradually fades once the group begins. Students frequently describe group therapy as positive, supportive, and impactful. In fact, many say they experienced a noticeable decrease in the distress that motivated them to seek therapy in the first place, and report an overall improvement in their emotional well-being.
What Students are Saying
- Feels helpful to share my experiences with others
- Reassuring and hopeful to know I’m not alone in how I feel
- I enjoyed having a safe, welcoming, and judgment-free space to share my experiences
- It felt nice to be listened to and understood by others
- I felt connected to others
- It was helpful to have other perspectives and learn how others deal with similar experiences
- It was nice to be intentional about taking care of myself (having a specific time each week to dedicate to my emotional well-being)
- I liked that others were open and honest
- Going to group was a small, but helpful way I challenged myself to be outside my comfort zone
- I felt better when I could listen and be helpful to others
- I learned the importance of communication in relationships
- I learned skills that have helped me slow down, be in the moment, relax, and know myself better
- I felt like I could challenge myself at my own pace
Fall 2019 Semester Support Groups
Understanding Self and Others:
Do you want to connect with peers in a supportive environment?
This group allows you to feel less alone in your struggles by giving and receiving support and practicing new ways of relating to others. Process groups are often the treatment of choice for individuals wanting to address loneliness or sense of isolation, unsatisfactory relationships, depression, anxiety, self-esteem concerns, and personal identity.
Tuesdays at 6pm
Wednesdays at 5pm
Thursdays at 12pm
Mindfulness Skills Group:
Are you feeling overwhelmed with daily stressors and looking for concrete coping strategies?
This group offers a variety of skills to improve overall well-being. Develop a more balanced, purposeful way of being through meditation, gentle yoga and other soothing movement, as well as guided imagery techniques to reduce stress, improve concentration and attention, cultivate awareness, and promote mindfulness and reflection.
Mondays at 12pm
Tuesdays at 5pm
Wednesdays at 6pm
Social Skills Group:
Do you want to improve communication and relationships?
If you feel that social anxieties or your current level of social skills are preventing you from making friends or deepening your relationships, this course can help! Participants will learn to initiate/exit conversations, maintain conversations, read social cues and non-verbal communication, manage social anxiety, handle conflict, and improve dating skills.
Thursdays weekly at 2pm
Talking Circle Group:
This group is open to Native students wishing to connect and receive support. Lunch is provided. Group is located at Wilson Hall and students can drop in as they want.
Wilson Hall Room 1-156
Group therapy is similar to individual therapy. At its base, it allows a student to share personal experiences with another person in ways that feel connecting, important, and supportive. Through this sharing process, students have the opportunity to feel seen, heard, and understood. However, group is a unique therapeutic experience because this sharing occurs between more than two people, creating additional opportunities to gain differing perspectives, guidance, and validation from peers who are likely sharing similar experiences. Trust is important, and all members work together to create a safe and confidential space where concerns and struggles can be explored, and personal growth is encouraged. Many members say this degree of trust makes it possible to be honest and genuine with one another, and it creates opportunities to express care and acceptance for each other.
- Anxiety and stress
- Concentration issues
- Discomfort in social situations
- Challenges in relationships
- Loneliness and isolation
- Low self-esteem and confidence
- Coping with difficult emotions
- Academic stressors
- Dependence in relationships
- Superficial relationships
- Difficulty trusting others
- Needing a lot of reassurance from others
- Lack of intimacy in relationships
Group therapy has been found to be equal to and, at times, more effective than individual therapy when addressing certain student concerns. Group therapy typically works because members bring themselves and the behaviors they’d like to change into group. Therefore, members can help one another by sharing feedback and perceptions about these patterns and offer alternative ways of interacting. Group can also be a safe space to try out or practice some of these new behaviors with others who are caring and encouraging. Members can get empathy, understanding, guidance, and advice on a range of concerns. And finally, for many, participating in group therapy helps them see they are not alone in their pain. Some additional benefits are listed below.
- Increase self-awareness and understanding of others
- Connect with and relate to others who have similar problems and experiences
- Decrease isolation and loneliness
- Receive multiple perspectives on your concerns
- Enhance the quality of relationships
- Develop new, healthier ways of relating to yourself and others
- Identify, experience and express feelings with greater ease
- Increase confidence & self-esteem
- Internalize lessons learned by helping others in group
- Learn specific skills to improve relaxation, concentration, and capacity to manage stress
Sharing concerns and personal struggles is difficult because it often requires vulnerability, and being vulnerable with others can be anxiety-provoking at times . Yet, learning to accept and even embrace our vulnerability by sharing parts of ourselves helps create a deeper, more meaningful sense of connection with others. When and how you share in group is always your choice, though it may be important to consider how group can be a safe space to take risks and feel more comfortable expressing your thoughts, feelings, opinions, and reactions. Typically, when members do share, they often find they are not alone in their concerns, and other members can relate to what is being shared.
If you find yourself struggling with anxiety in social settings, group therapy is often one of the most effective ways to address these feelings. Individuals with social anxiety might worry what others think of them, fear rejection and embarrassment, and work hard to avoid situations that bring up these experiences. Group therapy provides a supportive and encouraging space to explore and process such experiences, challenge personal assumptions, and gain confidence in social situations.
The staff at CPS is held to an ethical and legal obligation to protect the privacy of students and their personal information. Other group members are not counselors and are not held to this same standard. Therefore, we cannot guarantee complete confidentiality. However, all group members are expected to keep information about other participants private and confidential. In order for group to feel safe, members are asked to be respectful of one another’s privacy and not discuss information shared in group outside of group. Historically, group members have honored this expectation, and this has not been an issue. The importance of confidentiality is reviewed with all members at the first meeting. If you have questions or concerns, please discuss this with the group.
Currently, students may only participate in one therapy service at a time, meaning that if you are currently participating in group, you are not eligible to engage in individual therapy as well. If you are interested in transferring to individual counseling, let your group facilitators know, and they can assist you in the process. Most students find that one form of therapy at a time is sufficient in helping them address concerns.
No. Students may participate in group as often as they see fit. Please note that students may only participate in one group at a time.
- Process Groups are for those who will benefit from sharing experiences, giving and receiving support/feedback, and experimenting with new interpersonal behaviors in a safe environment. These groups are helpful in addressing feelings of loneliness, depression, anxiety, self-esteem concerns, and challenges in relationships.
- Psychoeducational Workshops are for those who want to increase knowledge of mental health concerns and build coping skills.
- Wellness Groups are for those who would like to learn mindfulness-based skills to enhance their capacity to manage daily stressors, increase present awareness, and improve overall well-being.
Group therapy can be a very rewarding experience that has much to offer to each person who participates. Here are a few suggestions to keep in mind as you begin your group experience.
Like individual therapy, group therapy takes time. Be open to the process and attempt to delay making judgments about the value of group. Commit to attending 3-5 sessions before trying to determine the value of group for you.
Set Goals for Yourself
Consider what you want and need from group participation to grow and change. Having a personal focus and clarifying specific goals can give a sense of purpose to your attendance, enhance your own participation, and help other members know how to assist you in your growth.
Start from Where You Are
Group is an opportunity to be yourself, not who others might want you to be. It can allow you the space to share and process personal thoughts, feelings, and experiences that you might often keep to yourself.
Focus on the HERE and NOW
Try to be aware of the actual lived experiences you and the group are having in session. While it is important and appropriate to share stories from outside group, members can miss out on very powerful opportunities if this is the only material brought up in group. Share what you are feeling and thinking about being in group, reactions you are having, and what you feel towards others. This can be very difficult, and that’s OK. Challenge yourself.
Think Out Loud
Try to put words to personal reactions you notice yourself having to people or topics of conversation, and share these words rather than censoring yourself.
Hearing what others are going through can help you gain perspective and see that you are not alone in your struggles.
Just show up!!!
Successful groups depend on commitment from each group member. Attend consistently, arrive on time, and make an effort to participate in meaningful ways.
All students are welcome to be seen at CPS for an initial intake assessment where they can discuss their presenting concerns and receive information and recommendations for available treatment options.
Students are generally considered eligible for services at CPS if they meet the criteria outlined below. Questions about eligibility can be clarified during an intake appointment or by calling CPS.
During the Academic Year (Fall and Spring Semesters):
- Undergraduate students enrolled in 7 or more credits; graduate students actively pursuing a degree or certification who is enrolled in at least 1 credit.
- Undergraduate students who have less than 7 credits can receive services if they pay the Student Health Medical Fee (not to be confused with the Student Health Insurance).
- CPS offers couples' counseling to students, where at least 1 member of the couple is an eligible student.
- In the event that a student is not eligible to receive services at CPS, our staff can still provide assistance by offering referrals to counselors/agencies in Bozeman.
During Summer Sessions:
- Any student who is enrolled in summer school.
- Any non-matriculated student who was eligible for CPS services in the spring semester and will be eligible in the upcoming fall semester.
- In the event that a student is not eligible to receive services at CPS, our staff can still provide assistance by offering referrals to counselors/agencies in Bozeman.
CPS staff work closely with other providers at University Health Partners including Medical, Psychiatry, and Nutrition Services. At times it is helpful to share treatment information to coordinate mental health care, and as an integrated agency, your providers may do so. Outside of University Health Partners, CPS services are completely confidential within the limits of the law. The fact that you received services from our office, the reason for your visit, and the content of what was discussed are confidential and cannot be disclosed to anyone without your signed consent. This means that parents, professors, Residence Life staff, partners, coaches, friends, etc. will not be privy to your contact with CPS without your permission. CPS values your right to privacy and confidentiality and adheres to strict legal and ethical standards set forth by the State of Montana and the American Psychological Association. Exceptions to confidentiality include: 1) threat of harm to self/others; 2) report of abuse of minor children or dependent adults; 3) report of minor children witnessing abuse; 4) if records are subpoenaed by a court of law.
Consultation: CPS staff are often called upon to provide consultation regarding mental health issues and students of concern, or to assist students in managing crises or distress. Friends, parents, faculty, and staff often consult with our office when they are concerned about a student. Even if someone knows that a student is being seen at CPS, we cannot provide any information about the student without their consent. However, we can always take information and provide guidance regarding how to help the student in question. For faculty, staff, and parents, click here for more information.
Referrals: Some students prefer to seek counseling off campus. There are many counseling services offered online and in the community, and it can be overwhelming to determine what might be a good fit for you. We’d be happy to help you navigate finding a qualified provider in the community that will meet your needs. Call our office (406-994-4531) and ask to speak with our Care Manager for support in finding an appropriate provider or services off campus.
During Fall and Spring Semesters, we reserve a limited number of evening appointments for Family & Graduate Housing residents. Students, and live-in partners/spouses of students residing in Family & Graduate Housing are eligible for couples counseling. Spouses/partners of students residing in Family & Graduate Housing can also receive individual counseling services. Please call us to make arrangements!
The Counseling Center's alcohol and drug assistance program focuses on prevention and individual student needs. We are dedicated to providing a voluntary, confidential resource to assist all students who are impacted directly or indirectly by chemical abuse. Confidentiality is assured in all matters. The office provides education, referral and pre-assessment support which promotes the legal, healthy and low risk use of alcohol and the non-use of illicit drugs.
- Provides individual as well as group chemical dependency counseling.
- Promotes and supports alternative student programs and activities, most notably MSU’s Center for Recovering Students.
- Offers referral assistance to students and their friends who have issues associated with alcohol and drug usage.
- Provides information, support, and referral for those students affected by behavioral compulsions and for students who are/were affected by chemical abuse within a family.
- Offers workshops, seminars and training.
- Gives support to friends and family who are affected by someone else's substance use/abuse.
- Supports other MSU offices, faculty and staff in issues relating to alcohol/drugs and behavioral compulsions.
- Provides factual information and dispels myths about alcohol and drugs.
- Houses a comprehensive resource library on alcohol, drugs, and other addictive substances.
- Disseminates information on local treatment and recovery program options.
The Counseling Center is happy to refer you to the Web sites of the following agencies in which you may have an interest:
- Disability Services
- The Women's Center
- The MSU VOICE Center
- UHP Medical Services
- Office of Student Success
- Ulifeline - Suicide Prevention & Mental Health Information