For Parents

Counseling Center services

The Counseling Center provides counseling for personal, academic or vocational problems. We also offer psychological assessment and psychiatric consultation. We primarily counsel students in the short term, referring them to other helping professionals or community agencies when appropriate. We assure strict confidentiality. Many services are free to currently enrolled students.

Common signs of distress

  • Significant changes in eating, sleeping, grooming, spending, or other daily activities
  • Significant changes in performance or involvement in academics, sports, extracurricular or social activities
  • Acting unusually withdrawn, volatile, tearful, or odd
  • Acting out of character or differently than usual
  • Talking explicitly about hopelessness or suicide
  • Difficulty concentrating or carrying on normal conversation
  • Excessive dependence on others for company or support
  • Feeling out of control of emotions, thoughts, or behaviors

If your child is distressed

If you worry about your child’s moods or behaviors, or if your child has experienced a trauma or a loss, your suggestion to consider counseling can be very influential. Quite often your daughter or son will be receptive to the idea of counseling, in which case you can suggest that she or he call for an appointment.

Protected Health Information (PHI)

According to federal law, without a student’s written authorization to release protected health information (PHI), Counseling Center staff cannot talk with parents about their sons’ or daughters’ participation in counseling. Confidentiality is essential to the counseling relationships we establish with students. We adhere strictly to the confidentiality guidelines set forth in North Carolina law as well as those established by our certification and licensing boards.

We understand that parents often feel they should be able to know what their son or daughter discusses 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 sons or daughters. In general, students tend to respond positively to open, honest communication. Though at times students may choose to limit parental involvement, we find many appreciate parental concern, acceptance, and guidance in the midst of the struggles they may face while at NC State.

Finding a therapist in the Raleigh area

The Counseling Center maintains professional contact with a number of mental health care professionals in the area. We work with students to identify therapists who both suit students’ concerns and accept students’ insurance. Students are welcome and encouraged to utilize our off-campus referral database and/or meet with our case management team to get started.

Making an appointment at the Counseling Center

If your child resists seeking help, it can make you feel helpless. You know your loved one needs help, and you desperately want to see him or her become less distressed. Continue to be supportive. Do not attempt to lighten the situation by saying, “It will likely get better anyway.” If you feel it is necessary to inform your son’s or daughter’s RA or RD, also communicate directly with your son or daughter.

Under exceptional circumstances where a licensed health care provider judges a student to be at risk, either because she or he refers repeatedly to suicide or death or because she or he neglects her or his basic needs, parents can facilitate mandated treatment through the court system. Counseling staff can help facilitate this. Thankfully, this is rarely needed as most students eventually understand they need help.

Options for suspended students or those who need to withdraw

Suspended students may seek readmission under the rules outlined in the NC State Policy on Readmission of Former and Academically Suspended Undergraduate Degree Students. There are five primary options for the student to be readmitted.

Letting go

You can still worry, but try and let your child make his or her own decisions. This means letting them suffer their own consequences. It will be hard to watch if you think your child is making a bad choice, but allowing him or her to fail will help teach him or her how to make good choices. The next time, the choice will probably be a better one. Support your child through the failure. That may not mean bailing him or her out, but instead may mean helping him or her do what it takes to help him or her resolve his or her own problems.

Helping your child adjust to college

College brings intellectual stimulation and growth, career exploration and development, increased autonomy, self-exploration and discovery, and social involvement to your son or daughter. Your child may forge a new identity or clarify values and beliefs. She or he may examine self, friends, and family carefully. As she or he explores and experiments, she or he may question or challenge the values you hold dear. The changes your son or daughter may experience can occur quickly, as she or he develops new peer relationships, gains competence in new areas, and learns to manage independently. It is important to recognize that every child will experience his or her own challenges and adjustments, just as every parent will have different expectations for and reactions to their sons’ or daughters’ college experiences.

Talk to him or her about adjustment to college as much as possible, but don’t belittle his or her feelings. Try to get to the root of the problem. She or her may have a conflict with a roommate, a heavy academic workload, miss a boyfriend or girlfriend, or feel she or he doesn’t fit in. Encourage him or her to get involved in activities, and to seek help from an RA, counselor or favorite professor.

Allowing him or her to come home often will remove him or her from the school routine, which will make it difficult for him or her to return to school. If possible, plan a visit about a month after he or she leaves home. If your child is still miserable after a full semester, a transfer may be in order. Consider all your options!

Helping your child avoid trouble

Alcohol abuse is a problem on many college campuses. Parents may sometimes feel out of touch with their children’s social habits in high school, but may feel even further removed when their children leave home. Talk to your child about the potential danger of alcohol abuse prior to his or her departure for college. Use the resources below to prepare yourself for a conversation about college drinking:

What to expect throughout the school year

We recommend that you read “A Year at College: Heads Up for Parents” (2014), an article from the Parents Handbook prepared by the Office of Residence Life at St. Mary’s College of Maryland, St. Mary’s City, Maryland. It describes in detail exactly what might be stressing your college student out during each part of the school year.

Ensuring smooth visits home

Both you and your son or daughter likely have mixed feelings about visits home. Excitement and trepidation are likely to top the list. Both you and your college student have changed since college began. Expecting house rules or interactions to remain unchanged during visits often results in conflict. We recommend that you read the articles “How to Keep the Holidays Happy” (2003) from the University of Kansas’ Office of the Vice Provost for Student Success, and “When college kids come home for the summer” (2011) from MSNBC.