We’re here to listen.  Students speak to us about things that upset, frighten, confuse, thrill, sadden, or anger them.

Although our counselors don’t provide specific advice, the simple act of talking and listening in a confidential, non-judgmental environment can help you gain clarity, self-confidence, and hope for the future.

We take your confidentiality seriously. We break confidentiality only in situations that to us seem life threatening. Even in these situations, however, we do everything we can to enlist your agreement and cooperation.

NC State University Counseling Center Stepped Care Model

visual representation of stepped care modelThe Counseling Center’s Stepped Care model is a multi-tiered system of services and resources. This model seeks to meet each student’s unique needs by providing support while promoting student autonomy and empowerment. The Center actively strives to maximize the available resources in order to meet the mental health needs of as many students as possible. Every student who has paid the student health fee is entitled to an initial screening with a Counseling Center clinician, followed by recommendations tailored to the student’s unique needs. The Counseling Center staff utilizes professional clinical decision making to determine which services students will receive and which students will be referred to other resources that might better meet their needs. Recommendations may include on-campus and/or off-campus resources. Assistance is provided, as requested or needed, to all students who have been referred off-campus (see Step 9 for more information).

The initial screening (Step 1) aims to find a balance between the most effective, yet least resource-intensive treatment. A number of factors will be considered in determining the appropriate “Step,” and students will be included in this decision-making process. The Counseling Center encourages all students to create connections within the campus community and to make use of resources that support wellbeing and success beyond the services provided at the Counseling Center.

Goals of the Stepped Care model include the following:

  • to improve timely access to mental health care and education
  • to create customized treatment plans to meet specific student needs
  • to utilize a strength-based approach and support student autonomy
  • to effectively connect students with other campus resources and supports

The following list contains possible services that may be included in your treatment plan:

  1. Screening appointment
  2. Referral to on-campus and community supports and resources
  3. Self-help psychoeducation and practice
  4. In-person psychoeducation
  5. Therapeutic consultation (single session)
  6. Short-term support group
  7. Group therapy
  8. Individual short-term therapy
  9. Off-campus referrals and case management services

Stepped Care Model

Step 1: Screening appointment

Walk in to the Counseling Center during our access hours (Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday, 9am to 3pm; Wednesday, 11am to 3pm) and check-in at the front desk. Depending on whether you have been to the Center before, and, if so, how long ago that was, you will be asked to fill out or update paperwork at the computer terminals in the waiting area. When you are finished, let the front desk know and have a seat in the waiting area. The next available triage clinician will meet with you after reviewing your paperwork.

During the brief meeting with the triage clinician, you will have the opportunity to talk about your needs and goals, while learning about the various services available at the Counseling Center and our short-term, stepped care model. The purpose of the screening is to assess your needs, check for any safety-related concerns, and identify the best resources to meet those needs.

Step 2: Referral to on-campus and community supports and resources

The Counseling Center staff strives to be knowledgeable about a variety of resources and supports both on-campus and within the community. Referrals may include student centers (e.g., African American Cultural Center, the GLBT Center, Multicultural Student Affairs, the Women’s Center), Military and Veteran Services, Wellness and Recreation programs and/or Wellness Coaching services, and the University Tutorial Center, Student Health Services, among many others. 

Step 3: Self-help psychoeducation and practice

Counseling Center staff can facilitate access to online modules that provide skills and education on a variety of mental health topics via Therapy Assistance Online (TAO). Further, the Counseling Center website contains a variety of self-help resources as well as information on mental health (see These are resources that students can access on their own time. 

Step 4: In-person psychoeducation

The Counseling Center has emotional wellness workshops that meet weekly, typically for three consecutive weeks. New workshops start every few weeks. Each workshop session is approximately 50-60 minutes in length and is designed to teach a variety of skills to address your concerns. Current offerings include:

  • RIO (Recognition, Insight, Openness) – focus on general emotional well-being and mindfulness 
  • Anxiety Toolbox – focus on anxiety symptoms and teaches skills to manage those symptoms 
  • Getting Unstuck – focus on depressive symptoms and teaches skills to manage those symptoms 
  • Healthy Relationships – provides education and skills for building positive, rewarding relationships
  • Mindful Living (4 sessions) – learn strategies to manage stress using mindfulness techniques
  • Group Biofeedback (4 sessions) – focus on management of physiology to decrease stress and anxiety (*Note: must complete Anxiety Toolbox before attending this workshop)

Stress Management or other one-time seminars are also offered, typically once per month. There are also weekly drop-in options, which do not require any sign-up or commitment. These include Meditation and International Tea Time, although may vary by semester.

For students who may feel hesitant to pursue a workshop, it is important to note that workshop facilitators respect your right to share only what you are comfortable sharing and never require you to share sensitive or personal information about yourself. 

Step 5: Therapeutic consultation (single session)

For students who would benefit from a focused consultation with a provider, the Counseling Center offers this in the form of a single session. Single sessions are scheduled when a student has a specific focus and ongoing therapy is not indicated. During this appointment, the focus is on the student’s primary concern and working collaboratively to either make a plan or find a solution for the concern. The single session is a one-time meeting and may include referrals, resources, or other services as appropriate. 

Step 6: Short-term support group

The Counseling Center offers an open group, Connect & Cope, where students can learn coping strategies and receive support from other students. For this group in particular, students can choose how many sessions they attend, although attending several sessions consecutively is encouraged for increased effectiveness. This group is offered at peak times of the semester.

Step 7: Group therapy  

The Counseling Center is proud to offer group therapy. Group therapy is the most effective treatment option for certain concerns. We offer a wide variety of groups, including theme-based groups (e.g., groups focused on perfectionism), identity-specific groups (e.g., women of color group), and general personal growth groups, as well. These groups range in duration from a few weeks to the entire semester and it is expected that students who join the groups will commit to attending for the duration of the group.

Current Groups

Step 8: Individual short-term therapy

In some instances, meeting with a clinician in-person for individual sessions is the recommended treatment. Short-term therapy is not appropriate for every clinical issue. Short-term therapy at the Counseling Center is goal oriented, solution focused, and time limited. Students referred for individual therapy are willing to engage in the therapeutic process (including regularly attending sessions and compliance with treatment recommendations). Students and their clinicians will work together to determine a plan to address the primary goal. Frequency of meetings is variable, but typically does not occur on a weekly basis.

Students may be recommended to complete previous stepped care options prior to being scheduled for individual therapy services. Further, students may receive referrals or other assistance connecting with off-campus treatment after attending individual therapy at the Counseling Center.

Step 9: Off-campus referrals and case management services

Some students come to the Counseling Center seeking or would be better served by longer-term or more frequent (i.e., weekly) therapy services. Students determined to be in need of longer-term services will be provided with appropriate referrals. 

Additionally, the Counseling Center does not provide certain specialized services. Some examples include: 

  • Disability evaluation (for Disability Resource Office accommodations)
  • Forensic evaluations/court-mandated or recommended treatment
  • LD/ADHD assessment
  • Emotional support animal documentation
  • Inpatient mental health treatment 
  • Intensive outpatient (IOP) treatment 

In some instances, clinicians are able to meet with students while working to get them connected to a community provider.  The Counseling Center has two clinical case managers who are available to assist students in finding community providers who accept their insurance, are located in their area, and who provide the appropriate service(s). The Counseling Center also has an extensive referral database available on the website to assist students in finding an appropriate off-campus provider (

Helping a Student in Need

The Counseling Center consults with university students, faculty, staff, and parents who are concerned about the unusual, problematic, or potentially harmful behavior of others.

If you’re concerned about someone’s mental health, please visit us or call us at 919.515.2423.

In person or over the phone, a staff member will explore your concerns and help you develop ideas for dealing effectively with the situation. If circumstances warrant, we’ll also help you find professional help for the person either at the Counseling Center or in the community.

Consultation Services

Although we are primarily a student service department, we also provide consultation services such as:

  • Consultation with faculty, staff, or parents about how to help a student in distress
  • Liaison relationships between our staff and many campus organizations to assure continuity of care and timely exchange of important information
  • Program planning and in-service training
  • Orientation to our services