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FAQ for Parents and Concerned Others

Frequently Asked Questions

Counseling Services welcomes calls from parents. Our staff understands that parents may have concerns about their students that they wish to express to us or consult with us about.

If a parent wishes to receive information from the student’s therapist, however, their student must first consent to this through completing an information release form. Without this permission, counselors can receive information, yet will not be able to confirm or deny that a student is on their roster nor share any information about the student.

Counseling Services has a strong commitment to the laws and ethics that maintain the confidentiality of those being seen. The only exceptions are to report current child abuse or in imminent risk to a person’s life and safety.

Who are the Counselors?

The Counseling Services team consists of three full-time clinically licensed social workers with a combined total of 60 years of experience serving across multiple populations and settings. 

Counseling Services Staff

Where are the Counseling Offices?

The offices are located on the ground floor of Gardiner Hall and accessed through the Health Center. The waiting room in the Health Center allows for comfort and confidentiality as the student waits for an appointment. The Counselor will greet each new student and escort them to their specific office. The students exit via the back door of Gardiner Hall.

Campus Map

How does my student make an appointment?

Appointments are made by completing a request form through Ram Pulse. 

Online Request Form for Counseling Appointment

When are the Counselors available?

Licensed mental health counselors are available  8:00 a.m. to 4:30 P.M., Monday – Friday. Should a student be in distress and need support outside of business hours,  students or parents can contact either Residence Assistance staff in their respective residence halls or Campus Police at 304-876-5202. Counseling Services is available through an on-call process and will be contacted by staff if necessary. In addition, our website provides links to 24 hour talk and text hotlines for mental health distress.

What issues do students bring to Counseling Services?

Students come for many reasons but the most common presenting concerns are anxiety and depression. Sometimes these are pre-existing conditions or can be related to chronic stress, early childhood or current exposure to trauma, or resulting from challenges in relationships.

Counselors utilize evidence-based treatment approaches and supportive services to teach relaxation skills, stress management, time management, communication skills, goal setting, and coping strategies for many struggles and/or mental health conditions. Our focus is short-term counseling, yet there is not a limit to the number of sessions per student. If longer term treatment or psychiatric evaluation is necessary, referral lists to community professionals are available.

When I Am Concerned What Can I Do?

There are occasionally times you may notice a change in your student or they share with you that they are having a difficult time. It doesn’t matter if you are six hours away or if they live at home; you may need to turn to someone.

Please remember that FERPA (The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act) is a federal law that serves to protect your student’s educational records. While it may prevent us from sharing specific information with you, we can still listen, follow up on concerns, and offer you general suggestions about resources or options. Although the specific concern may determine the appropriate person to call, below are a few places that can help.

Student Affairs 304-876-5030 This office links to all parts of the Student Affairs Division. By calling the Student Affairs Office you can access many more resources.
Health Center

Counseling Services

304-876-5161 Health Center staff can assist you directly or connect you with Counseling Services staff. We can listen to your concerns, help identify the appropriate person to call if it is not one of us, or just offer general information about dealing with college situations. If your student is willing to sign a release of information on a specific subject, we can talk more freely.
Residence Life 304-876-5172 This is the place to call if you need to get a message to a Residence Assistant or Hall Manager. They can help with homesickness and other concerns.

The University website is a great place to search for your needs, look up phone numbers or email addresses, and read about our policies, procedures, and expectations. You can see the Student Code of Conduct and some of the consequences for violations.

How do I help my student who is homesick?

First, let your student know that is a very natural and common response for students who leave home.

  • Explain that many other students are sharing similar feelings, even though they may not talk about it.
  • Encourage them to talk with an R.A., friend, or older student who has gone away from home.
  • Suggest a Bulletin Board or collage of some photos of home, family and friends. Mix the photos with photos of your favorite campus buildings, activities, or events and new friends you have made at Shepherd.
  • Suggest that they take a new friend and explore interesting things to do and places to see in the surrounding community. When they call home they can share what you have learned.
  • Remind them to get enough food and sleep. Proper rest and nutrition are important to emotional as well as physical well being.
  • Suggest some exercise using the Student Wellness Center or signing up for intramural activities.
  • Encourage involvement in a student organization or activity.
  • Place a limit on telephone calls home so they get more involved on campus.
  • Have them write you about their activities and experiences.
  • Set a date to visit at Shepherd or for them to come home. This helps to curtail impulsive home visits and helps ease the adjustment process.
  • Give them time to adjust. Overcoming homesickness is a gradual process for most. If their homesickness persists or interferes with the academic performance or social relationships, suggest they consider talking with a counselor in the Counseling Center.