Story last updated on September 19, 2023 at 9:37 a.m.

College is hard, and life is harder. Whether you are overwhelmed by courses, dealing with personal matters, or just feeling feelings, Franklin & Marshall College provides counseling services to alleviate student mental health struggles—or at the very least, validate that they’re real.

With a team of seven licensed counselors, plus an annual graduate student intern, counseling services are available in person for appointments from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m, Monday through Friday. For crises, the Student Wellness Center (SWC) offers walk-in hours from 1:00 p.m. to 2:00 p.m. every weekday—no appointment required.

Appointments: tips, cost and more

To make an appointment, students should call the SWC. For those with phone anxiety, students can email the SWC to request an appointment, but this action will almost always result in a call back anyway. Currently, the wait time to get on the books is only a few days.

A 24-hour crisis line, staffed by on-call counselors, is also available to students, free of charge.

Every student on campus receives six free counseling sessions, and all thereafter will be billed to their respective health insurance. Students on the college’s insurance plan are fully covered for counseling and avoid copayments. Those with insurance deductibles and co-insurance may run into additional charges.

The six-session limit was implemented last academic year, changed from eight. Head of Counseling Services Meagan Howell-Brogan explained that a joint-operating committee, a collective uniting the college with LGH/Penn Medicine, made the decision “based on many factors.” This committee oversees F&M’s counseling program and how it operates.

Appointments have a typical runtime of 50 minutes, but as one counselor joked, “Time doesn’t exist in my office.” A typical visit goes as follows: students check in with the front desk and wait in the counseling waiting room (which is just beyond the SWC waiting area) to be retrieved by their counselor, before starting their session with a therapist in a private room.

Anonymity: mandated reporters?

Counselors are not mandated reporters, unlike professors, administration and House Advisors. Unless a student expresses imminent danger to themselves or others, confidentiality will not be broken. Students can discuss sexual assault, drugs and other potentially triggering topics without concern, according to the team.

“Students don’t have to share anything that they don’t feel comfortable sharing,” said Howell-Brogan.

If a student doesn’t mesh with their counselor, they can schedule their next appointment with someone new.

“Can you be in a room with your therapist and feel okay? That’s what’s most important to us. If you don’t feel that way, try meeting with someone else,” said Howell-Brogan. “It really speaks to self-advocacy and self-knowing.”

If a student doesn’t feel at home with any of F&M’s counselors, the college offers a list of off-campus counseling referrals on its website. Despite the website’s current dysfunction, the list is now active here.

Counseling groups and events: expanding, advertising support

If working with a counselor is too expensive, isolating, or vulnerable, the SWC offers exploration groups, spaces where students can express their feelings together. Groups are typically advertised internally so that only students familiar with therapy protocols—like confidentiality and active listening—are recruited.

Some groups, like F&M’s Invisible Illness Support Group, are publicly disclosed in student emails and in progress for returning to campus. Counselors are open to pitches for ideas, whether for processing, educational, or supportive purposes. They can be student-led or moderated by a professional, and participation is free and does not dip into students’ free sessions. Past examples have included Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and women’s support groups.

In the near future, counseling is hoping to partner with various on-campus organizations for educational events and services. Counselors frequently meet with Student Accessibility Services through Amy Faust to identify student needs, and private meetings are on the books with the Joseph International Center, the DEI Office, and Posse in upcoming weeks.

Counselor Susan Schultheis recently collaborated with Faust on a public ADHD forum during Uncommon Hour on Tuesday, September 12th. Part Two of the event is not currently scheduled but will be hosted by Dr. Dawnielle Simmons, who is a licensed clinical counselor for the college and on temporary leave.

Forced changes: construction breaks confidentiality

The ongoing construction of the Lombardo Welcome Center within and outside of College Square will soon interfere with the current layout of counseling services in the SWC.

Large windows in private counseling rooms, which would normally be a calming agent in therapy, will cause problems for anonymity when contracted workers start building a large, blue ampersand facing Harrisburg Avenue in October. A lack of privacy, along with noise, forced the SWC to plan ahead and change course.

Some counseling spaces will move internally, away from the noise and windows. The remainder of appointments will take place via Telehealth, moving online. For those with roommates, students will be able to rent out a private room in the Patricia E. Harris Center. A sign-up form will soon be available to reserve a space.

Although the medical side of the SWC will remain unaffected, its entrance will change according to the flow of construction. Howell-Brogan recommends looking for posted signs around the building for clarification and promises that while it may be confusing, counseling services will never completely close due to construction.

To make an appointment, call (717) 544-9051.

Sarah Nicell is the Editor-in-Chief of The College Reporter. Their email is

By Sarah Nicell