College years can be challenging for both students and families. It is a time for students to develop independence and individual identities, and can be fun, exciting, intimidating, and yet lonely. Your student may encounter challenges during their college years, and most of these will be predictable and usual. When challenges become overwhelming, the Psychological Counseling Center (PCC) can be a valuable resource for helping students to navigate their struggles. Please explore our web site to learn more about our services.
Commonly-asked questions and answers:
What kind of counseling services does the Psychological Counseling Center (PCC) provide for New Paltz students?
The PCC provides group and time-limited individual psychological counseling for registered New Paltz students when clinically appropriate and available. Our First Year and Transfer Student Initiative gives special recognition to the particular needs and challenges of these students' adjustment to the college community. Our after-hours "Emergency Contact" service links PCC staff with campus police, residence life staff, and students to provide 24-hour crisis intervention. PCC staff offer campus workshops, a drop-in program "Let's Talk," and also provide referrals to community providers. The volunteer, confidential, peer support programs, OASIS/HAVEN, operate under PCC supervision, and provide crisis intervention telephone hotline and walk-in services. There is no fee for PCC services.
What are the credentials and standards of the PCC?
The PCC interdisciplinary professional staff may include licensed social workers, licensed psychologists, licensed mental health counselors, and a consulting psychiatrist. Our consulting psychiatrist has a M.D. in adolescent and young adult psychiatric services.
The PCC is the college's primary training site for the graduate-level mental health counseling program. Additionally, graduate trainees in mental health counseling, social work, and psychology doctoral candidates from other schools, may intern at the PCC as well. All trainees at the PCC provide counseling only under the clinical supervision of PCC senior staff.
The PCC adheres to the ethical, professional, and confidentiality guidelines of the psychology and social work professions.
What might I expect during my student's transition to college?
Every student responds to the challenges of college differently. If this is the first time your student has left home for any period of time, the transition may include periods of feeling lonely, isolated, apprehensive, and insecure. It is important to listen to your student's feelings and reinforce personal strengths. Encourage your student's involvement with their peers in campus activities, and remember the personality of your student. Family members and students can work together to develop a new more adult relationship of mutual respect, sharing stories, and enjoying the college years. Family still represents important guidelines for decision making, even as your student matures towards adult independence.
What is homesickness?
Homesickness is a longing for home, familiarity and security, and may be experienced as physical symptoms of nausea and sleeplessness, and psychological symptoms such as anxiety and depression. Speaking directly to your student about losses and sadness may decrease feelings of homesickness. It is also important to encourage your student to establish a sense of security in the new environment, by developing new friendships, connecting with faculty members, or speaking with the Resident Assistants (RAs), Orientation Leaders (OLs), or peer mentors. Homesickness, regarded as a typical part of the transition to college, may occur within the first six weeks, or as late as the second semester of the first year. Referral to the PCC is suggested if the symptoms begin to interfere with the student's functioning.
What is the best way to arrange for counseling services for my student?
If your student already has a therapist, we recommend that this topic be discussed as a part of therapy, with the knowledge that services at PCC are short term in nature. If your student's therapist advises that open-ended counseling is appropriate, suggest that your student contact the PCC just prior to, or soon after arriving at college, and we will facilitate a referral to a local private practitioner. There are many counselors within walking distance of campus who routinely work with college students.
If your student wants to begin short-term psychotherapy when in residence at New Paltz, encourage your student to contact the PCC to schedule an Intake appointment. PCC staff can assess if group therapy, short-term individual therapy, or referral to a local practitioner would be most helpful for your student's transition to college.
Although college is an exciting time, it is also very new and therefore may be stressful. This is NOT a good time to stop therapy or to stop medication! While some students do well with "phone therapy," we have found that face-to-face therapy sessions seem to prevent the development of crises, thus, we recommend continuing face-to-face sessions or establishing a therapeutic relationship with a local therapist in the New Paltz area.
May I speak to my student's therapist at the PCC?
If you are worried about your student, we welcome your call. We will listen to your concerns and provide suggestions about how to help your student.
Federal law and ethical standards on confidentiality prohibit us from acknowledging, without the student's consent, whether or not your student has been a client of the PCC. Also, we are prohibited from revealing whether a student has scheduled an appointment at the PCC.
If your concern is that your student may be suicidal or in imminent danger, PCC staff may liaison with residence life staff, other involved parties, and/or the student directly, to provide immediate support.
What if my student is hospitalized for psychological reasons?
The PCC has a collaborative relationship with the psychiatric emergency departments of the area hospitals. When the PCC is involved with a student's transport to hospital, we encourage the student to inform a family member about the transport. PCC staff will make every effort to obtain consent to include family support during this time. Once at the hospital, the student will be asked by hospital staff to inform family member(s) about the hospitalization or emergency room visit. If the student is admitted to the hospital, the hospital's clinical social worker works to facilitate the student's contact with family.
When a student is hospitalized for mental health reasons, there is a protocol established through the Office of the Vice President of Student Affairs to inform professors of a student's absence from classes. PCC staff typically initiates this process.
What if there is a family crisis while my student is away at college?
The PCC encourages family members to contact us at 845-257-2920, to discuss these concerns. Frequently, PCC staff will coordinate with the Resident Director (if the student lives on campus) to facilitate support for your student. If your student lives off campus, specific supportive strategies will be discussed with the family, including contact with their professors.
ALSO SEE: Untying the Apron String, a program presented by Dr. Gweneth Lloyd, Director of the Psychological Counseling Center.