Mental Health

Where can I go to talk to a counselor?

The staff at Student Counseling Services (SCS) are committed to being an affirming place for trans and gender non-conforming students. They know that trans people face many challenges and barriers in society, and the transitioning process can be a time of excitement, difficulty, and stress. Many of their counselors have experience providing support and counseling to trans and transitioning students. Their services are confidential and free for all Iowa State students.

Can I get letters for starting hormones and other kinds of medical transition from SCS?

SCS counselors have provided letters to begin medical transition many times. Their counselors are familiar with the WPATH Standards of Care guidelines on this process. Student clients work with their counselor over a period of time to provide information that allows the counselor to write a letter reflecting their professional assessment as well as the client’s goals. This process will be a little different for everyone, as it is something the student client and the counselor work on together.

Is counseling at SCS confidential?

Yes. SCS professionals are bound to confidentially by state and federal law and professional codes of ethics. They do not share any information with others (e.g. university offices, parents, family members) without your written permission. Extremely rare exceptions include if there is imminent risk of harm to self or others or court orders for information.

How do I get started at SCS?

Come on in to Student Counseling Service during walk-in hours (see website for details: Please save 90 minutes for the entire process. Go to the reception desk located on the third floor of the Student Services building and tell the receptionist you would like a first appointment. You will be asked to give your legal name, birthdate, ISU student ID number, email address, and phone number and then you will be asked to complete some electronic paperwork that will include a broad range of questions about your experiences and concerns. On the electronic paperwork, you are welcome to mention your trans identity and/or transitioning needs or concerns in the “presenting concerns” comment box. The paperwork usually takes about 15 minutes.

Then a counselor will meet with you to discuss your needs and concerns. Together, you will create a plan for which services will be best for you. If individual counseling at SCS is recommended, a counselor will be assigned to you for ongoing counseling.

How can I communicate my gender identity, my pronouns, and/or my name (other than a legal name) to SCS staff?

If you feel comfortable doing so, you are welcome to note the pronouns you use and a preferred first name either in the first section of the electronic paperwork and/or when you meet with a counselor.

There is also a question on the electronic paperwork which asks you to choose your gender from a dropdown menu from which you can select woman, man, transgender, or self-identify.  You may write in an answer next to the self-identify option if you choose.  

All information you share on SCS paperwork is confidential.

What if I have concerns about telling my legal name to the SCS front desk staff or having my legal name called in the waiting room?

You do not need to say your legal name out loud to front desk staff, you may present them with your student ID and they will get you started with the paperwork process.

Although you will need to include your legal name when filling out the electronic paperwork, there is a spot for students to type in their preferred name and pronouns. The counselor meeting with you will use the preferred name you have entered when calling for you in the waiting room.  

Are there any options for trans-affirming mental health care outside of the university?

 If you would prefer to see a counselor in the local community rather than at Student Counseling Services, we still recommend that you start with an initial appointment with SCS. Their staff is the most knowledgeable about therapists in the area, and they will be able to help refer you.

To learn more about mental health providers in the local area, please see SCS’s Tips for Scheduling an Appointment with a Community Provider and the Community Therapy Referral Guide.