Presenting concerns in counseling centers: The view from clinicians on the ground

Andrés E. Pérez-Rojas, Allison J. Lockard, Theodore T. Bartholomew, Rebecca A. Janis, Dever M. Carney, Henry Xiao, Soo Jeong Youn, Brett E. Scofield, Benjamin D. Locke, Louis G. Castonguay, Jeffrey A. Hayes

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

46 Scopus citations


Despite growing evidence that a greater number of students are seeking counseling in college and university counseling centers throughout the United States, there is a dearth of empirical information about (a) the presenting concerns for which students seek treatment and (b) how these concerns differ according to client demographic factors. The purpose of this descriptive and exploratory study was to explore how counseling center clinicians categorize client presenting concerns, and how these concerns vary according to client demographics. Given the importance of client suicide within the field of college counseling, the frequency of suicidality as an identified presenting concern was also explored. A sample of 1,308 clinicians from 84 counseling centers rated the presenting concerns of 53,194 clients using the Clinician Index of Client Concerns (CLICC) after an initial consultation. Results of descriptive and nonparametric analyses indicated that the most prevalent concerns were anxiety, depression, stress, family, and academic performance, and that clients who belong to different demographic groups frequently present to counseling with broadly similar types of concerns. Furthermore, suicidality represented an area of concern for 8.4% of all clients, and it ranked 20 of 44 as a clinician-rated concern. Comparable rates emerged across the range of client demographic groups examined, although rates were notably higher for a handful of groups. The findings offer one of the largest and most generalizable descriptions of why college students seek counseling services, as determined by clinicians' evaluations of presenting concerns. Implications for research and clinical applications of the findings are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)416-427
Number of pages12
JournalPsychological Services
Issue number4
StatePublished - Nov 2017

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Clinical Psychology
  • Applied Psychology


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