A Guide for Parents
The William & Mary Counseling Center offers a range of psychological and counseling services. For example, we provide professional help in the following areas:
- Assessment of developmental and clinical issues
- Individual, couples, or group counseling
- Crisis intervention
- Psycho-educational presentations
- Consultations regarding friends, roommates, family
A Parent's Role
The staff of the Counseling Center know how valuable a resource and support parents and other caregivers are to college students. Researchers have found that close relationships and open communication with one’s parents help a student to adjust to college life, make effective career and relationship choices, and develop self-confidence and a sense of personal autonomy.
Parents probably know their son or daughter better than anyone else. It is likely that a parent may notice changes in mood or behavior that may be an early indication of emotional or psychological distress. Students tend to turn to their parents when making important decisions. A parent’s suggestion may help a student make the decision to seek counseling.
How parents can help:
- Know the signs that may indicate psychological or emotional distress
- Respond with care and concern
- Get familiar with campus resources
- Encourage and support healthy choices, such as help-seeking
Recognizing Troubled Students
- Changes in academic performance: motivation, concentration, grades, or class attendance
- Changes in behavior: energy, personal hygiene, speech, mood, sleep or appetite
- Changes in relationships: death of a family member or close friend, difficulties in romantic relationships, conflict in close relationships, social isolation
- References to suicide: direct statements about suicide, statements about hopelessness or helplessness, or pessimism about the future
How Parents Can Help
- Speak to your son or daughter when you notice something unusual; don’t ignore disturbing behavior.
- Communicate directly in a caring manner describing the behaviors that are cause for concern.
- Use “I” language which focuses on what you notice or what you feel.
- Avoid being critical or judgmental.
- Don’t bring up concerns in the midst of an argument or in front of others.
- Be willing to listen to what your son or daughter has to say.
- Ask directly how you can best be of help.
- Encourage responsibility by helping your son or daughter to define the problem and identify possible solutions.
- Recommend counseling as an objective, outside resource.
How to Help Your Student Consider Counseling
- Tell your son or daughter why you are recommending counseling.
- Review information about the Counseling Center.
- Suggest that your son or daughter attend one session before deciding whether counseling would or would not be helpful.
- Except in the case of imminent danger to self or others, allow your son or daughter to refuse counseling. Your suggestion might still be under consideration for a later time or as a decision to be made privately.
- Call the Counseling Center yourself to get information about services and how to make an appointment, for consultation about how to discuss the referral with your son or daughter, or for outside referral sources.
The Counseling Center is required by law and professional ethics to protect the confidentiality of all contacts with students. Moreover, many students would not come to talk with us if they believed the nature of their discussions was shared with others. Therefore, we take our obligation to protect the confidentiality of our students very seriously. We are unable to communication with parents, faculty, or others about a student's counseling relationship unless they give us express written permission to do so, or unless they are under the age of 18.
Virginia law and professional ethics do allow or require us to communicate with others in some instances. If it becomes necessary to do so to ensure the student's, or someone else's safety we will make appropriate contact with parents and authorities. We will act in accordance with the law in all cases.
Appointments at the Counseling Center
Students may make an appointment or find out further information about our services by calling (757) 221-3620 or by stopping by the Counseling Center at Blow Memorial Hall, Suite 240. Office hours are Monday through Friday 8:00 AM – 12 Noon and 1:00 PM – 5 PM. In the event of an emergency during regular working hours, a student can either come to the office or call the office. During the academic year, the on-call counselor may be reached after hours and on weekends by calling the W&M Police at (757) 221-4596.