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Maximize Counseling Center Operations and Efficiency

Counseling centers have experienced a surge of demand across the last decade, with no signs of slowing. Institutions can better meet demand and student needs by improving clinical efficiency. Clinical time is an extremely valuable resource, so using that time effectively will benefit students and institutions.

Table of Contents

Stakeholder Education Support

Determine and write a scope of services statement for on-campus care

As demand for counseling services continues to rise, counseling centers must grapple with the fact that they can’t provide all types of services with finite resources. Bring together counseling center and student affairs leadership to define your institution’s mission and goals for campus mental health services. Use our discussion guide to help reach a consensus.

Maximize Counseling Center Operations and Efficiency
Action Support

Communicate your scope of service statement

Communicate your scope of care statement so students and families understand the types of care they can and cannot expect through campus services. Setting expectations early prompts students and families to think ahead about how they will access care for long-term, intensive, or specialized mental health care.

Decision Support

Optimize individual therapy appointments

Individual therapy appointments represent valuable clinical time. Counseling centers should maximize one-on-one sessions through intentional goal-setting conversations and frequent progress checks.

Reframe individual therapy as a structured, goal-oriented treatment option with a clear end point. Regular checkpoints help clinicians and students monitor progress and establish a treatment plan that is responsive to students’ ongoing progress and needs, whether that means continuing with individual therapy, exploring other treatment options, or concluding treatment.


Too often, students are meandering through counseling until they reach the end of the semester or an arbitrary appointment limit. Instead, they should be actively working with their counselor to answer this question: How do I know when I don’t need counseling anymore?


Director of Counseling Services

Public Research University
Action Support

Reinvigorate group therapy

Group therapy offers many advantages to students and counseling centers. It is proven to be clinically effective, it is adaptable and scalable for evolving student needs, and it increases clinical capacity. But common roadblocks (including lack of education and complicated logistics) hamper widespread use of group therapy on many campuses. Use this resource to help you reinvigorate group therapy.

Decision Support

Right-size staffing strategy based on student needs

Students’ mental health needs do not neatly fit into a 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday schedule, and nearly every counseling center experiences fluctuations in demand across the year. Yet most counseling centers operate with stagnant staff levels with limited budget to expand hours or hire more counselors. Beyond improving the efficiency of individual appointments and groups, explore larger opportunities, like outsourcing after-hours care or hiring contracted staff, to increase the efficiency your campus counseling center.

More Resources

Research Report

Preventing Campus Violence and Providing Mental Health Services at Rural Institutions

This report investigates the mental health services that administrators at rural community colleges offer faculty, staff, and students…
Strategic Advisory Services for Community Colleges
Research Report

Link BIT/CARE team outcomes to student success

Many BIT/CARE chairs highlighted a desire to focus on longer term outcomes for referred students—but currently only 42%…
Strategic Advisory Services

Establishing a Sustainable Scope of Service

Keep pace with students’ concerns and address expectations about availability of care through a scope of care statement.
Student Affairs Forum