As a parent, you may have concerns about your child while he or she is enrolled in college. You may notice changes in behaviors, attitudes, and academic performance that cause you concern. College-age young adults are at particular risk for significant emotional difficulties. In addition to normal developmental and adjustment struggles students may experience, the symptoms of many significant psychiatric disorders first appear in young adulthood. It may be difficult for you to provide the help and attention you feel your son or daughter may need.
Counselors are available at The Citadel Counseling Center to provide telephone consultations with parents concerned about their child. Whenever there is any doubt about whether or not a student could benefit from seeking assistance at the Citadel Counseling Center, please call and we will be glad to discuss the situation with you. Additional information about “Consultation” is located in the “Consultation & Education” section of our website.
How Can I Recognize If My Son or Daughter Is In Distress?
At one time or another, most students feel depressed or upset. Students may experience increased stress due to personal or family problems, academic difficulties, or crises such as the death of a loved one. As a result, their behavior may change or their academic performance may deteriorate. These students may benefit from counseling.
The following lists may help to identify some symptoms which, when present over a period of time, suggest that the problems with which the student is dealing are more serious than the “typical” concerns.
Marked Change in Academic Performance or Behavior
- Poor performance and preparation
- Excessive absences or tardiness
- Avoiding participation
- Disruptive behavior
- Exaggerated emotional response that is obviously inappropriate to the situation
- Isolation from friends and classmates
Unusual Behavior or Appearance
- Depressed or lethargic mood
- Irritable or angry mood
- Significant anxiety or excessive worry
- Hyperactivity or very rapid speech
- Deterioration in personal hygiene or dress
- Dramatic weight loss or gain
- Strange or bizarre behavior
References to Emotional or Life Stressors
- Problems with roommates, family, or romantic partners
- Experiencing a death of a significant other
- Experiencing a physical or sexual assault
- Experiencing legal difficulties
- Any other situation that is experienced as a loss or stressor
References to Suicide, Homicide or Death
- Feelings of helplessness or hopelessness
- Verbal or written references to suicide
- Verbal or written references to assault
What If I Am Not Sure Whether to Refer My Child or Not?
Counselors are available to provide telephone consultations with parents concerned about their son or daughter. Whenever there is any doubt about whether he or she could benefit from seeking assistance at The Counseling Center, please call and we will be glad to discuss the situation with you.
How Do I Approach My Son or Daughter Who May Be in Distress?
- Openly acknowledge to your son or daughter that you are aware of his or her distress or change in behavior.
- Express your sincere concern for his or her welfare and your willingness to help.
- Be direct and honest.
- Request to speak with the him or her in private, when both of you have the time and are not rushed or preoccupied.
- Express your concern in behavioral, nonjudgmental terms, explaining the specific behaviors you have observed that are concerns to you.
- Listen carefully and be empathic.
- Encourage him or her to make an appointment at The Citadel Counseling Center.
How Do I Refer My Son or Daughter for Counseling?
- Suggest that he or she call or come in to the Counseling Center to make an appointment. Give the Counseling Center phone number and location to him or her.
- Ideally he or she will make the appointment on his or her own. However, if you wish to be certain that he or she makes an appointment, call the receptionist at the Counseling Center while you are together and offer the phone to him or her to schedule the appointment.
- If you consider the situation to be an emergency, please convey this information when contacting the Counseling Center.
- Follow-up with him or her by inquiring as to whether or not the appointment was kept and how it went.
- If you are concerned about your son or daughter, but are uncertain of the appropriateness of the referral or if he or she resists a referral, feel free to call the Counseling Center for a consultation.
What Information Should I Give My Son or Daughter?
Before you refer your child to counseling, you should have the following information available:
- Citadel Counseling Center – 843-953-6799
- Citadel Public Safety – 843-953-5114
Services at the Citadel Counseling Center:
- Individual, short-term counseling
- Counseling is free
- Counseling is confidential
Special Urgent Needs:
- A student can call the Counseling Center, describe the urgent need, and request an immediate appointment. Parents may not schedule counseling appointments for their son or daughter.
Emergencies and Hospitalization:
- Call Public Safety at 843-953-5114 if there is a possible life threatening emergency and request transportation to the hospital
What if My Son or Daughter Refuses My Help?
Seeking therapy is a personal choice. No one can make the choice for another person. If your child is reluctant or refuses to visit The Counseling Center (and it is not an emergency):
- Don’t force the issue, simply restate your concerns and the available options.
- Suggest that confronting a problem is a positive sign of health and maturity.
- Acknowledge, validate, and discuss your son or daughter’s concerns about visiting The Counseling Center.
- Remind him or her that the staff at The Counseling Center complies with state laws and ethical principles which require them to maintain confidentiality.
- Remain open and available to help in the future.
- Suggest that he or she take some time to think it over.
What About Emergencies?
An emergency is defined as situation in which a person’s life is in immediate danger (i.e., suicide threat or threat of danger to self or others). Emergencies are more than you, alone, can be expected to help with. In emergency situations involving students who are unwilling or unable to seek help on their own, call The Counseling Center at 843-953-6799 and speak with one of the counselors. In the event of an emergency, the student can meet with a counselor immediately. If it is after hours, call the Infirmary at 843-953-6847, Public Safety at 843-953-5114, or dial 911.
What Can Your Child Expect From His or Her First Session?
At the first visit to The Counseling Center, he or she will be asked to fill out information forms before seeing a counselor. The first appointment with the counselor will typically be an intake interview in which your child and the counselor begin an assessment of his or her needs and the ways in which The Counseling Center or other services might be able to help.
What About Confidentiality?
All services at The Counseling Center will be kept confidential. When a student is referred to The Counseling Center, parents should not call the counselor and ask for updates on their son or daughter’s condition unless the student has signed an authorization to release information form. By law, counselors are not permitted to give parents any information unless the student has given him or her specific written permission. Parents are encouraged to ask the student directly about his or her appointment at The Counseling Center.
The only legal and ethical exceptions to confidentiality are the following:
- The student is in danger of injuring him- or herself or others and there is a clear and substantial risk of imminent serious harm.
- The student reveals information about abuse or neglect of a child and/or a vulnerable adult.
- A court order is issued for information from a counseling file.