COUNSELING AND TESTING
The Office of Counseling and Testing (OCT) helps students enhance their academic and personal well being. We support the educational mission of Francis Marion University (FMU) by helping students cope with college and life pressures that threaten persistence in college and enhance or learn skills that optimize personal effectiveness.
We also support the academic goals of FMU by coordinating testing services for the University (e.g., testing accommodations for students with disabilities, administering exams such as CLEP, MAT, and proctoring exams for those in distance education courses).
The Office of Counseling and Testing is located in the Education Foundation Building
adjacent to campus (the building faces U.S. Highway 76 and the street address is 121 S. Evander Drive).
Student Health Services is also located in this building.
What is counseling?
For most students, the college experience reflects a significant period of transition. Although transitions are often exciting, they also require change and adjustment (and this can be stressful). The Office of Counseling and Testing offers services for students who may be experiencing difficulties in their personal lives. The types of personal issues commonly addressed include depression, sexuality, stress management, depression, relationship issues and academic problems. You don’t need to have severe emotional problems to benefit from our services. Many students use counseling to expand their personal growth and development.
The counseling relationship differs from both social friendships and the patient-physician relationship. Unlike friends, therapists are able to be objective; they are not involved in your daily life. Unlike most physicians, therapists don’t give specific advice or tell you what to do. Instead, they serve as a skilled listeners who help you clarify issues and practice techniques to effectively cope with problems.
Make an appointment
Individual counseling services are generally offered to students on a short-term basis, ranging from a few weeks to a few months, depending on the nature of a student’s concerns. We usually schedule two 50-minute sessions per month – at a time that you agree upon with your counselor. Students who have problems that require long-term counseling are sometimes referred to other agencies or resources that can better meet their needs. To make an appointment, please call 843-661-1840.
Emergency counseling is available on a drop-in, first-come-first-served basis.
Counselors are typically available from 9 am to 5 pm, M-F. Our summer hours are 8 am to 5:15 pm, M-Thursday.
If you are experiencing an emergency situation and the office is closed, please contact FMU’s Campus Police (843-661-1109) or go to the emergency room of your nearest hospital.
You may also contact the crisis line for Pee Dee Mental Health at 1-800-808-4796 or use the text-based service, Crisis Text Line: https://www.crisistextline.org
Policy on Confidentiality
Our office maintains a strict policy of confidentiality. We don’t tell anyone that you’ve come for counseling unless you give us permission to do so. Our therapy notes are not part of your college record. There are some exceptions to confidentiality. These include:
- Threats of violence or suicide
- Suspected child abuse
- The need to share limited information with Student Health Services, Campus Police, or the Dean of Students Office during an emergency
When and Where to Test
The Testing Center is located in the Education Foundation Building at 121 South Evander Drive, Florence, SC 29506. The building is to the west of the main campus and faces Highway 76 (just in front of the athletic complex). Please call 843-661-1840 for more information.
All tests are scheduled by appointment. The earliest possible time available for a testing appointment is 9am and the latest possible testing appointment is 2:45pm, Mon –Fri (Mon-Thurs during the summer schedule).
ACT On-Campus – $50
CLEP – $85 (plus a $16 proctor fee)
DANTES – $85 (plus a $16 proctor fee)
Distance Education Proctoring – $16
MAT – $66
How to Pay
All proctoring fees for Francis Marion are to be paid in the Cashier’s Office, located in the Stokes Administration Building on the Francis Marion University campus. When examinees arrive to Counseling and Testing, a copy of their receipt will be needed before testing begins.
*The $85 for the CLEP will be prepaid with the testing company. Examinees will bring a registration ticket from CLEP on the day that they test. The $16 proctor fee is to be paid in the Cashier’s Office before testing.
*The $85 DANTES fee is to be paid with a certified check, money order, or with a credit card. The $16 proctor fee is to be paid in the Cashier’s Office before testing.
The Office of Counseling and Testing coordinates reasonable accommodations for qualified students with documented disabilities who are attending Francis Marion University.
Students with disabilities are encouraged to contact the office at least two weeks before starting classes at Francis Marion University.
Eligibility for Accommodations
To qualify for accommodations, a student must provide appropriate documentation from a qualified health services provider (i.e., physician, licensed psychologist). Psycho-educational evaluations for Learning Disabilities and for Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) should be current, usually within the last five years. If a student has a Summary of Performance (SOP) from high school, it should be included with the primary documentation.
Quality documentation should include a diagnosis, an explanation of the disability’s effect in an academic setting, and recommendations regarding accommodations. Quality documentation will also include the following:
- The credentials of the evaluator(s).
- A diagnostic statement identifying the disability.
- A description of the diagnostic methodology used.
For learning disabilities, methodology should include a test battery with standard scores and/or percentiles reported. The battery should include the following (no brief or screening tests):
Measure of intelligence (e.g., WAIS).
Measure of achievement (e.g., WJ-R-ACH).
For ADHD, methodology should include a continuous performance test (CPT) or set of norm-referenced behavior ratings from the student, and preferably a parent, spouse, teacher, or significant other.
- A description of the expected progression or stability of the disability.
- A description of current and past accommodations, services and/or medications.
- Recommendations for accommodations, adaptive devices, assistive services, compensatory strategies, and/or collateral support services.
Each student’s documentation is presented to the Director of Counseling and Testing. In most cases, the director will be able to approve the documentation. At times, the director may need to consult with other members of the campus community regarding a student’s specific requests or to determine whether a student’s documentation is sufficient for establishing a disability. If a student’s initial documentation is incomplete or inadequate to determine the extent of the disability, the director will notify the student as to what is missing. The cost of obtaining additional documentation is borne by the student. If a student’s documentation is approved, the student should make an appointment with the Director of Counseling and Testing to set up accommodations for the academic year. Accommodations will not occur until this meeting has taken place.
If a student disputes any aspect of the disability process, he or she may appeal to the ADA Compliance Coordinator (Dr. Charlene Wages, Vice-President for Administration, 843-661-1140).
Setting Up Accommodations
After a student’s eligibility has been approved, an appointment should be made with Dr. Rebecca Lawson, Director of Counseling and Testing. You can reach her at 843-661-1841.
Appropriate academic accommodations will be agreed upon at this meeting (based on the intake interview and a review of the documentation supplied by the student). The student will be asked to complete several forms, including:
- Academic Accommodations Agreement
- Consent to Release Information
- Authorization for Release of Accommodations Letter (student will decide the method of delivery for notifying professors of accommodations)
- Voter Registration (optional)
Notification of Professors
At the beginning of each semester, the Office of Counseling and Testing will write a faculty notification letter and will address it to each of the student’s professors. The letter verifies registration with the office and lists the accommodations a student is eligible to receive. The letters are confidential and do not reveal the nature of a student’s disability unless a student has given permission for specific information to be shared (e.g, a list of seizure precautions for a student with a seizure disorder). Letters are mailed to professors the day before classes begin. For students who choose to deliver the letters themselves, the letters can be picked-up on the first day of class (or earlier if the student gives advance notice).
In order to provide most accommodations, it is necessary for the Office of Counseling and Testing to notify professors that a student has registered with disability services. In most cases, this involves the sharing of a student’s name and disability-related needs, not the specifics of the disability.
A student’s qualifying documentation is housed in the Office of Counseling and Testing. It is rarely shared with other University staff, unless the student has given permission to do so. The documentation may be shared on a “need to know” basis in the case of an emergency or if a student complaint is being investigated.
Types of Accommodations
Accessible Residence Halls
Residence hall rooms with varying degrees of accessibility are available. Reasonable efforts are made to accommodate students with disabilities who wish to live on campus. Students with disabilities must follow the sign-up procedures established by the Housing Office.
Students must provide documentation from an appropriate professional indicating diagnosis and the need for housing accommodations. For further information, contact the:
Housing Office at 843-661-1330
Office of Counseling and Testing at 843-661-1841.
If accommodations are necessary (e.g., adaptive software in specific locations), students should submit their requests to the Director of Counseling and Testing.
Handicapped Parking Permits
After the student’s vehicle has been registered, the handicapped parking placard can be obtained from the Office of Counseling and Testing. The placard must be displayed on the dashboard of the vehicle whenever parked on campus. Students must meet eligibility requirements and must get a new placard at the beginning of each semester.
To obtain a handicapped parking placard: 1) The student must present qualifying documentation. 2) The vehicle must be registered on campus and display an FMU resident or commuter student decal. Students needing special parking consideration, such as pick-up or drop-off at crosswalks in front of buildings, should present these needs to the Office of Counseling and Testing so that Campus Police can be notified. At no time should a crosswalk be blocked for periods longer than necessary to pick-up or drop-off a student with a disability.
Requests for interpreters should be submitted to the Office of Counseling and Testing as early as possible (e.g., right after pre-registration). Any schedule changes must be communicated to the Director immediately.
The Office of Counseling and Testing will help students in obtaining note takers, when this is an approved accommodation.
Suggestions for Obtaining a Note Taker:
Students may approach a peer in class and request him or her to be a notetaker. (Students will need to provide the name of the notetaker to the Office of Counseling and Testing). If a student does not feel comfortable approaching other students, the Office of Counseling and Testing will recruit a notetaker for the class. In order to receive a copy of a classmate’s notes, students must maintain reliable attendance. The notes are not a replacement for missing class. After the first week or two, students may want to approach the professor to see if the notes are adequate for the class. Any problems with the note taker must be addressed to the Office of Counseling and Testing immediately so we can fix the error or find a new note taker.
Personal Care Attendants
Personal care attendants assist individuals in completing daily living skills such as grooming, personal hygiene, meal preparation, medication monitoring, maintenance of personal living environment, lifting or turning pages, and transporting/escorting. The cost and maintenance of the services of a personal care attendant are the responsibility of the student. To determine if a personal care attendant (PCA) is needed, students will need to assess their skills and abilities with their medical provider, vocational rehabilitation counselor, or case manager.
The Office of Counseling and Testing is willing to advise students on the recruitment and hiring of PCAs. For example, the office can provide a location for students to interview prospective PCAs and can generate ideas on how to advertise the position on campus. Students with disabilities are the employers and set the wages, hours, job duties and conditions for employment. As such, students are expected to create their own fliers and applications for the position. For classroom and general campus assistance, some students will find it helpful to recruit and hire other students. For more involved personal care needs, students can make arrangements through agencies or private contacts.
When students demonstrate that they have met with their faculty adviser, the Director of Counseling and Testing will authorize priority registration on an as-needed basis.
Service Animals and Emotional Support Animals
Students with a service animal are strongly encouraged to voluntarily register with disability services by contacting the Office of Counseling and Testing. Service animals are working animals, not pets. The work or task a service animal has been trained to provide must be directly related to a student’s disability. Students who intend to live on campus are required to inform the Housing Office that they plan to have a service animal with them in housing.
Service Animal Requirements and Etiquette
- The animal should be on a leash, harness or other tether. It is recommended, but not required, that the animal wear some type of commonly recognized symbol, identifying that the animal is a working animal.
- The animal should respond to voice or hand commands and be in full control by the handler.
- To the extent possible, the animal should be unobtrusive to other individuals in the learning, living and working environment.
- The handler must adhere to and be aware of all applicable state and local laws regarding ownership of animals (e.g., leash law, proper identification, vaccinations, etc.)
- Cleaning up after the animal is the sole responsibility of the handler. In the event that the handler is not physically able to clean up after the animal, it is then the responsibility of the handler to hire someone capable of cleaning up after the animal.
Emotional Support Animal
Unlike a service animal, an emotional support animal does not assist a person with a disability with activities of daily living, nor does it accompany a person with a disability at all times. In order to receive permission to have an emotional support animal in housing, a student must provide documentation supporting the request. Preferably, the document will be submitted at least one month before the beginning of each semester. Documentation may be submitted through disability services, specifically the Director of the Office of Counseling and Testing, or may be submitted to the Housing Office. Required documentation includes:
- Verification of the student’s disability from a physician, psychiatrist, or other qualified mental health professional. This assessment must be conducted by a third party that is separate from the University.
- Description of the type of animal requested.
- Statement on how the animal serves as an accommodation for the documented disability, e.g., alleviates one or more identified symptoms or effects of a person’s disability.
Emotional support animals are not allowed in other areas of campus (e.g., library, academic buildings, classrooms, labs, University Center, etc.), except on a case-by-case basis as an approved accommodation.
Once approval is granted for an emotional support animal, the student should contact the Housing Office to make arrangements to bring the animal to campus. The student’s roommate(s) and/or suitemate(s) will be notified (if applicable) to solicit their acknowledgement of the approval, and notify them that the approved animals will be residing in shared assigned living space. In the event that one or more roommates or suitemates do not want to reside with an emotional support animal, those individuals will be given the option to move to an alternate location. If roommates were assigned BEFORE the animal owner applied for housing, the original roommates will not be required to move; the animal owner will have to accept another housing office. The Housing Office will provide the student with specific requirements for having a support animal in the residence halls (e.g., waste disposal, pest control).
Responsibilities of Handlers
Handlers are responsible for any damage or injuries caused by the animals they are responsible for and must take appropriate precautions to prevent property damage or injury. The cost of care, arrangement and responsibilities for the well-being of a service animal are the sole responsibility of the handler at all times.
Removal of Service Animals/Emotional Support Animals
Service animals and emotional support animals may be ordered removed by the Housing Office or by Campus Police for the following reasons: disruptive or out-of-control animal; non-housebroken animal; perceived to be a substantial and direct threat to the health and safety of others. Animals may not be left alone for unreasonably extended periods in a student’s room or apartment. In the event that an animal is not being attended to as needed (food, left alone for longer than a reasonable time, creating a disturbance), the Housing Office may order immediate removal of the animal. If a student does not respond to this request, Florence County Animal Control may be contacted for assistance in removing the animal.
Any cost of removing a service animal, or emotional support animal, shall be the responsibility of the student.
Students eligible for test-taking accommodations should notify their instructors at least one week prior to a test. If a professor is unable to provide a requested test-taking accommodation, or if other services are needed such as the use of a reader or scribe, the Office of Counseling and Testing will work with students to provide necessary accommodations. Students found cheating on exams while using testing accommodations will be subject to the same disciplinary process and sanctions outlined in the Student Code of Conduct in Francis Marion’s Student Handbook. The Student Conduct Code applies to all FMU students; students with disabilities are no exception.
Free academic assistance is available from the Campus Tutoring Center (661-1675) and the University Writing Center (661-1528). Contact the Director of Counseling and Testing if you need assistance working with departments to secure a personal tutor.
The Office of Counseling and Testing offers services to students who are concerned about their use of alcohol or other drugs. The office offers free, confidential assessments to help students determine the nature and extent of their alcohol and other drug use, and the impact of this use on their well being.
While outpatient services can be of benefit to many students, some individuals will need more intensive treatment (i.e., intensive outpatient or inpatient treatment). The Office of Counseling and Testing will refer students to the appropriate level of care based upon the results of a clinical assessment. Students who are referred to services outside of this office will be responsible for any costs incurred.
The Prime-for-Life Group teaches students the difference between responsible use of alcohol and irresponsible or dangerous use. It is designed to help students make appropriate choices about alcohol or other drugs during their university experience. Issues such as abstinence, social use, driving while impaired, the harmful effects of alcohol and other drugs, and potential consequences of irresponsible behavior are explored and discussed.
The Prime-for-Life Group may be mandated for students who break the Francis Marion University Alcohol and Other Drug Policy. Students are charged for a workbook used in the group, but the group itself is free to students. The cost of the workbook is $15.00. The group is open to all FMU students and typically runs twice per semester.
For students who are convicted of a legal violation, i.e., Driving Under the Influence (DUI), the Prime-for-Life Group may be approved by the courts for Pre-Trial Intervention (PTI). Please contact the group coordinator, Kayla Duncan, for more information (843-661-1842).