Parent Guide to Counseling Services: Supporting Your College Student
College is an exciting and challenging time for young adults and their parents. As students manage the transition to independence, the tasks of young adulthood can be stressful, at times resulting in emotional and behavioral concerns. Even though your student may be far from home, you can continue to play an important role in guiding them toward services that support their academic goals. The following is for parents of students who may require additional support through the office of Student Counseling Services.
Preparing your Student:
Prior to attending college it is vital for parents to understand the emotional and psychological needs of their student and help them plan for appropriate support and resources. When students have long-standing emotional concerns, parents are encouraged to take additional steps to prepare them for the demands of college life. Student Counseling Services at Hofstra University can assist in this regard by providing counseling support to individuals and groups. If your student has a history of emotional, psychological, or behavioral difficulties, or is managed on psychiatric medications, early planning to arrange for service providers in the area is highly recommended. In such instances, our staff will provide consultation to help students find appropriate off campus referral options and continue to offer supportive counseling services. Student Counseling Services utilizes a short-term treatment model and therefore individuals with long-standing concerns may be best served by off-campus treatment providers.
Understanding the Counseling Process:
A student may participate in counseling to discuss emotional difficulties or personal concerns related directly to academic or other matters. The collaborative counseling process is used to clarify problems, establish realistic goals, and develop active, short-term treatment solutions. During the initial visit, the student will be asked to provide some basic personal information and complete paperwork. This involves meeting with a counselor for approximately 50 minutes to assess their situation and presenting concerns. The student may be seen for individual counseling, recommended for a group, or referred to an off-campus provider based on the student’s needs. Should your student experience an emergency on campus and require counseling intervention, Student Counseling Services is available for crisis consultation. After regular business hours, students and concerned others are directed to contact the office of Public Safety at 516-463-6789 in order to speak with a crisis counselor.
Parents may feel concerned about their college student experiencing emotional or psychological difficulties that are causing distress or affecting day to day functioning. Student Counseling Services welcomes contact from parents who are seeking guidance or support for their student. However, such contact must adhere to the limits of confidentiality and therefore counselors may not be able to openly discuss concerns if prior permission has not been granted by the student.
Confidentiality is a key component of the counseling relationship in that it allows the client to freely express their concerns in a safe environment. Information is not shared with parties outside Student Counseling Services without the expressed written consent of the client, except where law, regulations or emergency situations allow. At times, parents have questions about the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) and the Family Education Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) as related to counseling. Under HIPAA all health related records are confidential. This is separate from FERPA, which a student may waive, allowing parents to view academic information. Therefore a FERPA waiver does not apply to confidential health related information.
Many students prefer to keep their counseling completely private. This can be an appropriate step in a young adult’s life as they begin to form their own identity and sense of self. Even if your student does not give permission for his or her counselor to provide information to you, you may choose to contact Student Counseling Services to express your concerns. Such contact may be critical especially if you are concerned about the safety of your student or others. Be aware, however, that the counselor may not be able to confirm knowledge of student clients and their contact with the office of Student Counseling Services. Working within the framework of confidentiality, Student Counseling Services understands the importance of collaborating with parents, as the process is helpful in determining when urgent outreach is needed.
When your student is reluctant to attend counseling:
At times, you as a parent may believe it is important for your student to attend counseling, however they are reluctant to go. If it seems clear that they are in need of counseling services, you might discuss any of the following with them:
- They may attend a consultation meeting to learn more about services.
- Visits will be kept confidential.
- Groups are offered if they’d prefer to attend with others.
- Staff at Student Counseling Services can help with a variety of presenting concerns.
- Students can call and speak with a staff member or see our website to learn more.
- If your student prefers to go elsewhere, counseling referrals to service providers in the community can be offered.
Information to consider:
- Provide your student with a copy of health insurance information
- Find appropriate treatment providers off campus, covered by your insurance
- Help your student arrange initial appointments with SCS staff and off-campus providers
- Plan for transportation needs
- Hofstra shuttle
- Learn about the optional and supplemental Tuition Refund insurance plan prior to the start of the academic year.
- Visit Hofstra’s Parent and Family Handbook for more information about the transition to college.