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University Counseling Centers (UCC) provide mental health and other services within a university or college environment. The need for these services is on the rise. Counseling center directors and other student affairs personnel have reported an increase in the mental health needs of college students, with issues like eating disorders, alcohol and drug abuse/dependence, severe depression/anxiety, suicidality, and sexual assault becoming more prevalent in this environment.[1] Among Big Ten Conference universities, directors report a 42% increase in the number of students seen at their counseling centers.[2] In a summary of recent survey data, Duenwald also reports that the use of psychiatric medication has increased almost 10% among college students since the year 2000.[3] May (2003) finds that a UCC will typically work with 15-20% of students at colleges and 8-12% at a university.[4] Given these numbers, May recommends 1 counselor per 600 students in colleges and a 1:1000 ratio in universities with an average of 5 to 6 sessions per student. [4]

UCCs generally offer a variety of services including individual and group counseling, psychodiagnostic testing, alcohol and other drug counseling/evaluation, crisis assistance, campus outreach programs, consultation services, and graduate student training. Though services primarily target mental health problems (i.e., anxiety, depression), students also utilize counseling services to enhance areas of their life, including relationships, career/vocational choices, academic and athletic performance, and exploring psychological strengths. Lehigh University Counseling and Psychological Services (UCPS) is an example of a university counseling center.


Early to mid 1940's: University counseling centers began formal operations, responding to the increasing educational and vocational needs of returning veterans of World War II.[5]

1950: The Association for University and College Counseling Center Directors (AUCCCD) was created as a consortium of mid-western counseling center directors, providing an opportunity for consultation and collaboration among colleagues. Presently, the AUCCCD contains members from 677 universities and colleges in the U.S., Canada, Europe, and Asia.[5]

1960s: As outpatient psychiatric clinics and services became more accessible to the general public, university counseling centers also began to provide standard psychological services to college students, including individual, couples, and group psychotherapy; vocational and personality assessment; consultative services to college administration, faculty, parents, and students; and crisis management among other services to the campus community.[6]

1968: The Association of Psychology Postdoctoral and Internship Centers (APPIC) began formally coordinating pre-doctoral and post doctoral internships and jobs. Currently, there are 444 pre-doctoral internships listed through APPIC.[7]

1978: The Association of Counseling Center Training Agencies (ACCTA) was established to coordinate the training objectives of university counseling centers, including creation and maintenance of pre-doctoral internship and practicum programs.[8]

External links


  1. Kitzrow, M. A. (2003). The mental health needs of today’s college students: Challenges and recommendations. The National Association of Student Personnel Administrators Journal, 41, 167-181.
  2. Voelker, R. (2003). Mounting student depression taxing campus mental health services. Journal of the American Medical Association, 289, 2055-2056.
  3. Duenwald, M. (October, 2004). The dorms may be great, but how's the counseling? The New York Times. Available online at
  4. 4.0 4.1 May, R. (2003). How much is enough?: Reflections on the Report of the Harvard provost's committee on student mental health services. Journal of College Student Psychotherapy, 17, 3-10.
  5. 5.0 5.1 AUCCCD, (2005). About AUCCCD. Available online at
  6. The George Washington University Counseling Center. (2008). History of the UCC. Available online at
  7. APPIC. (2008). Available online at
  8. Heppner, P. P., Casas, J. M., Carter, J., & Stone, G. L. (2000). The maturation of counseling psychology: Multifaceted perspectives, 1978-1998. In S. D. Brown & R. W. Lent (Eds.), Handbook of counseling psychology (3rd ed.). New York: Wiley.
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