For Parents

How Can Parents Help Their Students?

The college years can be a time of both excitement and stress for students and their parents. Students face numerous challenges while at college, such as choosing and preparing for a career path, developing peer and romantic relationships, and learning about their own unique values and identities. Sometimes these challenges can lead to difficulties.

Problems that students sometimes experience while in college include difficulties with depression, anxiety, stress management, substance abuse, eating/body image issues, or relationship concerns. Learning or attention-related problems also occasionally arise during the college years. If these problems are not addressed, they may result in emotional, academic, or social difficulties for the student. Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) can often help students resolve their concerns so they can feel better and get "back on track" with their academic work.

Often, parents are among the first people to notice when their student is experiencing difficulties. If this happens, parents are encouraged to contact Counseling and Psychological Services to discuss strategies for helping their student. Such strategies may include encouraging the student to take advantage of on-campus resources such as CAPS.

Services Offered at the Counseling Center

CAPS is a confidential service available to Montclair State University students. We provide a variety of services to help students achieve their academic and personal goals while they are at MSU, including individual and group counseling, psychiatric services, drop-in hours at sites outside CAPS, and outreach programming. In order to meet the demand for our services, CAPS uses a short-term therapy model for individual counseling. We offer long-term groups that students may utilize for the duration of their MSU experience if they wish.

CAPS staff may also facilitate referrals to other on-campus or off-campus service providers when appropriate. Referrals are made when the student's concerns are better addressed elsewhere, or when the student's concerns are beyond the scope of the services we provide.

Intervention Tips

Here are some tips for concerned parents who believe their student may be experiencing difficulties.

  • Offer Supportive Feedback
    In a supportive manner, let your student know the reasons you are concerned. Be sure to be specific about what you have observed.

  • Normalize the Student's Experience
    It is not unusual for students to have their first encounter with depression or anxiety during this time of transition and life changes. In addition, sometimes students who have struggled with these issues before have a return of symptoms. It may help your student know that because college can be stressful, many students experience some temporary depression or anxiety while in college.

  • Clarify Expectations and Roles
    College is a time when students and their parents experience changes in their roles and expectations for each other. In most cases, students benefit when parents and students clarify their expectations as well as the consequences of not meeting these expectations.
  • Encourage the Student to Meet with a Counselor
    It might help your student to know that they may come to Counseling and Psychological Services for one session to see whether or not counseling is the right solution for them. In other words, coming to CAPS for a consultation meeting does not obligate the student to continue in counseling. Our staff are interested in helping students determine what interventions might work best for them. Sometimes counseling is a good strategy; at other times, non-counseling strategies are more helpful. Reluctant students might be more open to the idea of coming to one of our informal drop-in sites. We have "Let's Talk" hours at various times and locations around campus. More information and exact times and locations can be found by clicking here.

A word about confidentiality

All CAPS services are confidential. Although we understand parents' interest in knowing what is going on with their student, we are unable to disclose information without the student's written consent.

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