Information for Parents

As a parent, you probably know your student best.  You can tell when something is wrong, and often, you are the person in whom he/she confides when struggling emotionally.  College is a challenging yet wonderful time in the lives of most students.  Certain struggles and difficulties are expected as they try to make it through the growth experiences and transitions that college life brings.  Some ups and downs are to be expected.  However, if you are noticing that your student is losing the ability to manage these struggles on their own, they may need professional assistance to do so.  If your student is having personal and emotional troubles, Counseling Services may be able to help.  There are also many other offices within the college setting which you may want to consider as you try to find help for your student including academic support services, Disability Services, faculty advising, Career Services, etc.

The Counseling Center provides services such as initial evaluation and consultation, individual therapy, group therapy, education and outreach as well as crisis consultation to enrolled students as appropriate.  There are a variety of concerns for which students seek our services.  Some common struggles students bring to the Counseling Center are:

  • Trouble adjusting to college life or issues that arise related to being a college student
  • Anxiety, depression, or confusion which may disturb everyday life in relation to oneself, others, or academic activity 
  • Difficulty in relationships with partner, family, friends, etc.
  • Uncertainty and inexperience relative to college life 
  • Struggles related to academic pursuits
  • Lack of motivation or direction that may inhibit successful pursuit of college studies 
  • Loneliness, fear, or isolation which may make daily living and existing in a “lonely crowd” a painful experience 
  • Conflicts between personal needs and values and the needs and values of others 
  • Grief and loss of close loved ones
  • Problems related to alcohol and/or drug use or abuse

Would a therapist in the Community be a good choice for my child?

Sometimes parents prefer to find treatment in the community instead of having their student seen at the Counseling Center.  We at the Counseling Center also refer students for treatment in the community when it is determined most beneficial.  Several different factors can affect this decision.  Our services are provided mostly by interns supervised by licensed Counselors and Psychologists.  Additionally, we do not offer psychiatric services.  In most cases, we also cannot offer long-term weekly therapy for chronic psychological difficulties.  If your child needs long-term weekly treatment that provides a high level of predictability and consistency in appointments, then a therapist in the community may be a better choice.  In order to maximize availability of our services to all students, we typically follow a shorter-term model of treatment and are able to be somewhat flexible with this limit. There are also a good number of students who would prefer to engage in treatment off campus because they desire the increased sense of privacy and flexibility that this offers.  If your student is considering a community referral and/or needs psychiatric care, see the Community Referrals and Local Treatment Agencies link on our website.  While our office does not specifically recommend any particular therapist or psychiatrist, we are happy to meet with your student to assist with the decision-making process.

If your student is experiencing a psychological emergency and needs immediate assistance during regular business hours, please call the Counseling Center at 609-896-5157 (For Westminster Choir College students, call 609-921-7100 x 8275).  For after-hour psychological emergencies, call Public Safety at 609-896-7777.  Refer to the guidelines below for help in determining what should be considered a psychological emergency.

Call Counseling Center or Public Safety immediately if:

  • You think your student is thinking about suicide.
  • Your student has physically harmed him/herself in some way. 
  • You think your student is thinking of harming someone else. 
  • Your student appears to be in an altered state in which they are having trouble perceiving reality.
  • Your student has recently been the victim of a trauma such as a sexual assault.

A word on confidentiality…

On occasion, a student’s parent or family member will contact the Counseling Center to help make an appointment for the student or with a concern about a student or treatment. While we welcome questions, it is important to mention that strict legal and ethical guidelines protect the privacy of all communications between a client and a therapist. In an effort to protect your student’s confidentiality, we cannot provide you with information about your student without his/her written permission. However, we can provide useful more general information, and if you contact us with concerns, we will make every effort to assist you in getting your student help.  Be assured that our focus is on the student.  When appropriate we work with the student to help him/her improve communication with his/her support system and empower students to take responsibility for his/her own well being and success.