Information for Parents

Why Do Students Seek Counseling?

The college years are often referred to as the best years in one's life. It is a time when students engage their intellect, forge their individual identities, and explore future life paths. Ideally, this can be an opportunity for growth, challenge, and self-discovery. It is also common for students to experience heightened stress while adjusting to these life changes, particularly within the context of a competitive academic environment. Students come to the University Counseling Center (UCC) for a variety of reasons. Some are looking for help in coping with the pressures associated with adjustment to college life. Others want to learn more effective ways of developing, negotiating, or maintaining relationships. Counseling can be beneficial for students who are feeling depressed or anxious, as well as those who want to examine their beliefs or explore their current life situation. The UCC offers students the opportunity to look at themselves and their environment, and to change the way they think, feel, and behave so that they can make the most of their time at APU and beyond.

What Can a Parent Do?

While many students seek our services on their own, a parent is often the first person to recognize that a student is not functioning at their best. Students who are struggling or facing new challenges may turn to you for help in figuring out what to do because they know and trust you. You may find it helpful in these situations to have some basic information about the resources available to your student at APU, and to direct them to these. The UCC is available to provide professional counseling services to students, and to consult with you when you have concerns about how to best help your student.

What Is Available for Students at the UCC?

Any enrolled APU student is eligible for counseling services. All UCC services are confidential. Students are typically seen first during a scheduled intake session. At this time, their problems are explored and the intake counselor helps them decide what services might be most helpful to best meet their needs. The UCC employs a brief counseling model, which has been shown to be effective for many of the issues faced by college students and is, on average, four to six sessions in duration. For those who want or need longer-term services, we have many high-quality community referrals available.

A student in crisis can come directly to the UCC and an assessment will be done as soon as possible. The counselor will provide immediate care and work with the student to form a plan to help him or her through this difficult time.

In addition to individual counseling services, the UCC offers group and couples counseling, as well as information and training resources including outreach presentations, educational workshops, pamphlets, and our UCC website.

What Is Available for Parents at the UCC?

We understand that a child leaving for college can also be a difficult adjustment for parents. You can expect to experience a mixture of emotions, ranging from pride in what your child has accomplished, to concern over how they will handle the transition to a more independent stage of life, to anxiety or frustration regarding personal choices and decisions being made with what seems to be decreasing parental input. We encourage parents to be realistic about their reactions to a son or daughter moving away, and to be patient with the process of negotiating this new phase of relationship with your child.

Most of our students would agree that, although this is a time of exploring new freedom and autonomy, parents still play a critical role in supporting and nurturing them through this stage of life. Your relationship with your child will continue to be one of the most important contributors to their success at APU. We encourage parents to communicate openly with students, providing support while at the same time honoring your child’s development into the unique individual God desires them to become.

The UCC is available to assist you in the transition process and in facilitating a successful student experience. Consultation with UCC staff is offered to any parent by phone or in person. If you are worried about your student and are uncertain about what to do, you are welcome to call us, identify yourself as a parent of a current student, and ask to consult with a counselor. Usually this service is available immediately. Please note: Though legally we are bound by the limits of confidentiality, we will do our best to assist you with your concerns.

Parents and Confidentiality

As a professional counseling service, our staff is required to restrict the sharing of counseling-related information. In accordance with professional ethics and California state law, any information disclosed in the context of a professional counseling relationship is considered confidential. This means that what is shared by a student in counseling sessions is not discussed with any person outside of the UCC, with the following exceptions: (1) the student gives written permission to share his or her counseling-related information with a third party; (2) a counselor believes that the student may harm himself/herself or another person; (3) a counselor suspects the abuse of a child, elder, or other dependent adult. Unless the counselor has obtained a signed release from a student, or perceives that a student may be in immediate danger, the UCC will not be able to share any information with a parent related to the student's sessions.

We understand that parents often think they should be able to know about what their son or daughter may be discussing in counseling, and that confidentiality requirements are often a source of frustration. We encourage parents who desire to know more about their particular student’s counseling experience to talk with their student. On the whole, students tend to respond positively to open, honest communication. Though at times a student may choose to limit parental involvement, we find that the majority appreciate parental concern, acceptance, and guidance in the midst of the struggles they may face while at APU.

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