The Bay Path University Counseling Center staff do not provide documentation or engage with the process of Bay Path University Students seeking accommodations, as this poses a potential conflict of interest. As outlined in the recent statement from the American Counseling Association (ACA) regarding Emotional Support Animals (ESAs), “It is the recommendation [...] that professional counselors do not engage in the practice of writing letters for their clients, unless the counselor has specialized training and experience [...] due to the potential risks involved,” for clients and the counselor. It is for this reason, along with the possibility of negative impact on the therapeutic alliance, and in accordance with various codes of ethical practice stating the boundaries of competence based on education, training, supervision, experience and credentials, that Campus Counselors do not provide documentation for on-campus accommodations.
In the case that a student has no other established provider to make such a request, they will be referred to off-campus providers to establish treatment as this may indicate that the level of need reported by the student exceeds the scope of care of the Counseling Center, and may be better served by off-campus providers. In the case that an off-campus provider cannot be established and a student has already been attending Counseling Center sessions, rare exceptions may be made after much consideration by Campus Counselors in consultation with AccessAbility Director pending students’ consent to provide release of information to do so. The only exception Counseling Center staff may provide is a written letter of support as additional information for their application for accommodation.
Students who have an established therapeutic relationship with the contracting psychiatrist are able to request accommodation documentation for other housing and academic accommodations as discussed with them directly in their ongoing appointments. The contracting psychiatrist does not provide documentation for ESAs for the same reasons as stated above regarding the Campus Counselors.
Contracting Psychiatrist position, procedure, and student expectations:
Any students seeking on-campus accommodations for mental health reasons are able to request documentation from the contracting psychiatrist (heretofore referred to as “the psychiatrist”) in the Counseling Center. The psychiatrist is available for treatment as outlined by their contract with Bay Path University to provide psychiatric evaluation and medication management, and is independently licensed to make clinical judgment pertaining to the risks and benefits of making such a recommendation. Students seeking accommodation recommendations can expect the psychiatrist to discuss with them their current concerns and challenges, as well as the intended outcomes to benefit the student’s academic and/or personal functioning at Bay Path University.
Academic and housing accommodation recommendations will be made in accordance with the procedure of the Office of AccessAbility in accordance with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), and releases for this office will be procured as needed to encourage more effective case management between these offices, per the students’ consent. The student seeking accommodation may expect the psychiatrist to inquire about their challenges and the impact on functioning that such an accommodation would reduce or alleviate. This process may take multiple meetings as it would require ample time to explore clinical necessity for such an accommodation. As such, any documentation from the psychiatrist may take up to 8 weeks to fulfill, as the psychiatrist must utilize on-contract hours to complete this request.
If the request for an accommodation is not indicated within clinical reason to be a necessary measure for therapeutic treatment for mental illness, regardless of diagnosis, the psychiatrist maintains the right to decline to recommend accommodation based on their clinical judgment. The student requesting accommodation may seek recommendation and required documentation from another licensed professional as needed, though the campus counselors on staff in the Counseling Center do not provide this service in thoughtful effort to reduce any conflict of interest such a request may yield, especially as pertains to the therapeutic alliance.
Any documentation provided for students must adhere to the timeline dictated by the Office of AccessAbility Services (see below).
- For incoming students: Requests for accommodation should be made 60 days before the move-in date, otherwise Bay Path cannot guarantee that it will be able to meet the individual’s accommodation needs during the first semester of occupancy.
- For students who are currently in University housing: If the need for an accommodation arises, the student should request the accommodation at least 30 days prior to the university’s lottery process for room selection begins.
Bay Path cannot guarantee that it will be able to meet the accommodation needs during the semester or term in which the request is received if students make their requests after housing selection for the fall has closed.