Questions That Parents Often Have about Counseling

Why might counseling be suggested to a student?

People seek counseling for many reasons. Some people pursue assistance for problems that have been going on for a long time. Other persons seek help when they feel the time is right for significant personal growth. Because of our wish to be responsive to the widest possible range of student concerns, the Counseling Center offers group, couple, and individual counseling. Students have come to the center to talk about roommate conflicts, anxiety and stress management, intimate relationships, depression, eating disorders, career choices, and family concerns such as divorce and alcoholism.

A student might develop an interest in counseling for a number of reasons. Some students come to us because of concerns that they develop on their own. Other students are recommended by university faculty or staff or other persons with whom they have a significant association.

Here are some of the common instances when counseling might be recommended to a student:

  • Significant or traumatic changes in personal relationships—such as death of a family member or friend, divorce or separation in the family, pregnancy, etc.
  • Major changes in mood or behavior—such as withdrawal from others, asocial activity (e.g., lying, stealing), spells of unexplained crying or outbursts of anger, or unusual agitation.
  • References to suicide—since it is difficult to distinguish between serious threats or passing idle thoughts of suicide, judgment about the seriousness of a situation is best made in consultation with a psychologist or psychiatrist.
  • Anxiety and depression—these are two of the more common symptoms which can significantly impair a student's functioning.
  • Psychosomatic symptoms—concerns such as tension headaches, loss of appetite or excessive eating, insomnia or excessive sleeping, chronic stomach distress, etc.
  • Alcohol and drug abuse—evidence of excessive drinking, drug abuse, or drug dependence is almost always indicative of psychological problems.
  • Career choice concerns—often these concerns reflect the student's struggle to understand him/herself and the world of work. Sometimes it reflects a problem with decision-making in general.
  • Concern about success in school—such as contemplating dropping out of school, worrying about possible academic failure, or considering a transfer to another school.

As a parent, what if I already know that my son or daughter needs counseling?

It is not unusual for a student to come to the university having already received counseling. When the student or their family believes that further services might be important, it is useful to contact the center in advance to discuss the options available for the particular concerns of the student.

Other students may not have previous counseling experience, but might have a difficult time in making the transition to college. In this circumstance, students and parents are advised to use the consultative services of the Counseling Center to get information about the best options available to them.