Counseling - Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently Asked Questions 

Q. Does it cost anything to talk to a counselor at Greenville University?
A. No.

Q. If I talk with a counselor, will it be confidential?
A. Yes. Students who talk with a counselor are protected by confidentiality laws that insure privacy. Your privacy from faculty and administration is assured, as well as privacy from family and friends. The only time confidentiality is released is:

  1. When you sign a Release of Information form for a specific person.
  2. By subpoena and court order.
  3. If you are considered to be an immediate lethal threat to yourself or others.
  4. If you report recent child abuse. The counselor is mandated by law to report child abuse to the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services.

Q. When should I encourage a friend to talk with a counselor?
A. Everyone goes through "tough times" and most of the time the support of friends is enough to get us through. However, there are times when support is not enough, and people may suffer unnecessarily because they have not pursued professional help in a timely manner. How do I know when support is not enough?

  1. They seem depressed and tearful or withdrawn consistently for more than a week.
  2. They cannot sleep or have disturbed sleep for most nights for at least 2 weeks.
  3. There is even the mention of thoughts of suicide or desire to kill someone else.
  4. Distress over spiritual/moral/sexual matters.
  5. Feel out of control with behaviors that are habitual.
  6. Are assaulted or have some other traumatic experience.
  7. Seem to be obsessed with "perfection" and have anxiety when things aren't perfect.
  8. Frequent anger outbursts.
  9. Have anxiety or panic attacks more than once.

Remember, as a friend you can't solve all their problems. Sometimes the best help is guidance on how to get professional help.

Q. What are the symptoms of drug or alcohol addiction?
A. Addiction is not based on how much of a drug a person uses. By the way, alcohol is a drug. Addiction is a mental, emotional, and physical relationship with a drug that involves persistent use of the drug even when it causes problems in the person's life.

What we know about addiction to any drug is that it always progresses, getting worse and worse with time. This means that the amount used, frequency of use, and amount of time spent drug-affected all increase. This means that problems increase also. The following are the common signs of addiction:

  1. Once you take that first drink or drug, you cannot predict how much you will use. (Loss of Control)
  2. When you use, it causes problems or conflicts, including fighting or anger outbursts, as well as depression. (Personality Change)
  3. Drug/alcohol use causes problems in social, education, legal, work, or family/peer areas of life. (Life Problems)
  4. A person may not use for long periods of time, but when they do use they are out of control and have problems. (Person has "allergy" to drugs or alcohol)
  5. Uses more of the drug/alcohol over time. Example: I used to drink 2 beers, now it takes 6 to feel drunk. (Increase in Tolerance)
  6. Ability to drink more than others and act normal. (Increased Tolerance)
  7. Continue to use drugs/alcohol even though it has caused problems or losses in life. (Fines, arrests, suspension from school, loss of friends, car accidents, injuries, etc.)
  8. Begin to think about drug/alcohol use through the week to get relief from stress. (Building the Relationship with the Drug)
  9. The person is usually in Denial about the problems drug/alcohol use is causing and tend to blame others or minimize the severity of the problems.

The following are characteristics of addiction. It is:

  • Progressive: Continued use always gets worse, never stays the same.
  • Predictable: Problems begin to develop that are predictable.
  • Treatable: There is treatment for addiction that will free the person from their bondage to the drug.
  • Terminal: If untreated, the person will eventually die from the use of the drug. Many deaths are attributed to complications from drug/alcohol use and therefore not identified as drug-related.

What to do as a friend:

  • Don't minimize with your friend. Help them always see the reality of their situation.
  • Help them see what their use has done to their life or situation.
  • Set limits that you stick by.
  • Don't ride with friend who is drunk or drugged! Get another sober ride!
  • Take friends car keys away if they won't agree to let sober person drive. (Steal keys secretly if you have to. All is fair if you are saving a life.)
  • Encourage them to get help, and even offer to go with them.

Dealing with addiction early, can reduce the amount of treatment necessary to be successful. The longer you wait, the more likely treatment will have to be more intense.

Q. I have tried to stop viewing pornography, but I keep going back to it. What's wrong with me? Do I lack faith? Am I not spiritual enough?
A. Pornography is fast becoming the "epidemic" of the new millenium for men. Due to ease of accessibility and increasing varieties of pornography, more and more men are becoming ensnared in ADDICTION to pornography. Anyone can become addicted to pornography.

Intelligence, willpower, spiritual maturity: none of these factors protects a person from addiction to pornography. Persons who view pornography, run a very high risk of eventually becoming emotionally, mentally, and physically dependent on that stimulation. The reason pornography is so addicting is because:

  • It is an escape.
  • It relieves anxiety and stress.
  • It relieves the stress of relationships.
  • A person is in complete control of the interaction itself.
  • It is completely self-centered. There is no responsibility to meet another's needs or care about their feelings.
  • The pleasure experienced has an intensity similar to a drug high, and therefore is intensely reinforcing.
  • There are no limits.

The symptoms of pornography addiction are:

  • Spending increased amount of time viewing pornography.
  • Changing the kinds of pornography viewed because "old stuff is less interesting".
  • Loss of sleep due to viewing pornography.
  • Planning activities to ensure time to view pornography.
  • Failed attempts to quit viewing pornography.
  • Preference for pornography over relationships, or viewing pornography in the place of dating or spending time with the opposite sex.
  • Obsessive thoughts about pornographic material.
  • Viewing pornography interferes with responsibilities, i.e., chores, taking care of living needs, spending time with family, spending money that should be used for responsibilities on pornography.
  • Increasing risk-taking, i.e., exploring sexual activities that could cause legal, family, career, or health problems or disasters.
  • Becoming desensitized to normal sexual activity.

If you are experiencing some of these symptoms, take action! This is a serious addiction that can affect your spiritual, emotional, sexual, and future family life. Talk to a counselor, pastor, or mentor. Remove all access to pornography. Begin a life of serious prayer and Bible study. Join an accountability group. I can do all things through Christ, who strengthens me. Philippians 4:13.

Q. What is an anxiety attack?
A. An anxiety attack is a physiological reaction to stress. The symptoms include:

  • Shortness of breath.
  • Chest pain.
  • Numbness or tingling in extremities.
  • A feeling that something terrible is going to happen, i.e., fear of dying, fear of going crazy.
  • Dizziness

No one dies or goes crazy from an anxiety attack. They will pass after a short time. If you have one, talk to a counselor or your doctor about it to evaluate the need for treatment.