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Counseling Services

Mona Ochoa-Horshok, a licensed professional counselor, provides confidential counseling services for all law school students. Beginning August 21st, 2023, she will be available during the Fall Semester on Mondays and Wednesdays from 1:00 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. in Office A241. Her spring availability will be updated when it is confirmed.

This counseling service is sponsored by the Law School and is free of charge.  Students with ongoing counseling needs are encouraged to take advantage of the University’s Counseling Center, which is open daily and also has 24/7 on-call services.

Ms. Ochoa-Horshok holds a Master’s Degree in Clinical Psychology and has over twenty years of experience in counseling. Ms. Ochoa-Horshok is available to meet via Zoom for those students who would prefer to meet virtually.

If you would like to schedule a meeting with Ms. Ochoa-Horshok, you may now do so through Lisa Drummond. Ms. Drummond’s email address is ldrummond@law.ua.edu and her telephone number is 205-348-5750. Also, you can reach Ms. Ochoa-Horshok by phone at 205-393-9029 or by e-mail at mochoahorshok@gmail.com. Walk-ins during her office hours are also welcome.

The University’s Counseling Center is open on Tuesdays from 9am – 5pm and on all other weekdays from 8am – 5pm. You can reach the Counseling Center during its operating hours by calling 205-348-3863. Counseling can be reached outside of these hours by calling UAPD at 205-348-5454 and asking to speak with the on-call counselor.

The Women and Gender Resource Center provides additional services to students who are victims/ survivors of interpersonal violence, as well as family and friends who have been impacted by abuse. The WGRC can be reached Monday through Friday from 8am – 5pm at 205-348-5040 and outside these hours by calling UAPD at 205-348-5454 and asking to speak with the on-call advocate for the WGRC.

Students struggling with challenges related to academics or personal life issues are encouraged to take advantage of these services.

Counseling FAQ

What is counseling?

Counseling is a safe space for individuals to talk with a trained, caring professional.

What will happen during my 30-minute counseling session?
In short, you will talk with the counselor. One of the things that makes talking with a counselor especially helpful is that counselors are objective, skilled listeners. In your conversation, a counselor can help you clarify issues, better understanding causes of concern in your life. Talking with a counselor can help you gain skills to effectively deal with feelings or problems and can provide an opportunity to learn and practice these skills so you can live a healthy and balanced lifestyle. A counselor can facilitate a process of personal growth allowing you to adapt to challenges and prevent further stresses by examining and learning practical ways to deal with behaviors, thoughts, and feelings.

Is what I say in a counseling session confidential?
Yes, counseling is confidential. Nothing is placed on your transcript or any other academic record to reflect that you attended a counseling session. Your attendance at a counseling session is not shared with other campus offices or your friends or family members without your consent.

There are exceptions, including when there is concern for your safety or the safety of others. By law, counselors must report child abuse and neglect, suspected child abuse and neglect, elder abuse, suspected elder abuse, abuse of adult in need of protective services, and suspected abuse of an adult in need of protective services to the Alabama Department of Human Resources. Counselors must comply with court orders to release mental health information.

Will I be asked about whether I have participated in a counseling session when I apply to take a bar exam?
Questions on bar exam applications vary among states. But questions related to mental health and counseling generally aim to learn only whether an applicant’s mental health would prevent them from practicing law within the rules of professional responsibility. Seeking counseling, alone, does not indicate that an applicant is unable to practice law. In its preamble to the character and fitness portion of its application, for example, the Alabama State Bar includes the following language:

ASB does not, by its questions, seek detailed information of treatment that is fairly characterized as counseling in response to a specific stressful event such as illness, death, or divorce, marriage or family counseling, counseling related to law school stress or work stress or counseling for eating or sleeping disorders. ASB encourages applicants who may benefit from treatment to seek it. Such behavior is considered to demonstrate personal responsibility and maturity.[1]

We encourage you to check the application of your own State Bar or discuss with our Career Services Office if you have concerns about similar questions on the bar application.

Can I be asked about whether I have participated in a counseling session when I apply for jobs?
Generally, employers will not ask about your mental health or current and past counseling during the interview process. The exception is for security clearances for government positions that deal with highly classified information. Through the clearance process, which typically takes place after you have received a job offer but before you start in the position, you may be asked about mental health counseling, but receiving counseling is not necessarily a disqualifying factor. The Career Services Office is happy to assist in preparing for any interview in which you are concerned about being asked about counseling and mental health.

What, more specifically, can I talk with a counselor about?
You can talk with a counselor about anything. Here are just a few examples:

  • Issues of adjusting to law school or the Tuscaloosa community
  • Academic stress
  • Feelings of anxiety related to the job search
  • Relationship stress and conflict
  • Family issues
  • Identity exploration
  • Difficulties related to illness or disability
  • Grief and loss about someone or something

How is talking with a counselor different than talking to my friends or family?
Talking with friends or family members is a wonderful way of finding support from individuals you trust. Probably unlike your friends or family, though, counselors have specialized education and training to counsel and help people. A counselor’s ability to be an objective, “third-party” conversant can provide you with a different perspective on your experiences and can help you explore and discover things about yourself. Talking with a counselor can help you learn about how to change unhelpful patterns of thought or behavior, process difficult experiences, or learn healthy coping tools.

A counselor won’t judge you or tell you what to do. Instead, a counselor will help you to clarify issues, discover more about your thoughts and feelings, and deal effectively with problems.

Can I schedule more than one session?
Though the Law School’s in-house counseling service is not intended to replace the services of a primary counselor that a student would see on a regular basis, students can schedule more than one session as the need arises. Also, students may visit the University’s Counseling Center for more regular counseling services. The Counseling Center is conveniently located very close to the Law School.

Will counselors prescribe medication that they want me to take?
Counselors do not prescribe medication. If a counselor thinks you may benefit from prescribed medication, they may discuss with you the process of seeing a psychiatrist or other medical doctor.

[1] You may read the full preamble here by clicking “browse forms” under “Bar Exam” and visiting Section G of the Character and Fitness Questionnaire.