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College Dorm

Dear Parent,

(Or loved one of a college student)

I know you're here because you care about your student. You're probably feeling worried about them and landed on this page searching for how to help. Maybe they are calling you often to vent about their stress; your heart aches listening to them tearfully tell you about their anxiety. Maybe their words are telling you that they are "fine", but you can sense how overwhelmed and stressed they really are. Maybe you have concerns that they may be struggling with an eating disorder. As a mom myself, I know how hard it can be to feel worried about your child. 

Sometimes parents can struggle with not knowing if therapy is right for their student or not. Are they experiencing normal college stress, or is it something more? How can you know when therapy is the right solution? 

Here are a few signs that therapy could be helpful for your college student:

1) They have expressed interest in seeking therapy to you. Gen Z tends to prioritize their mental health and often they recognize that they need the help of a therapist before others do. If your student has shared with you that they want to begin therapy it's a good idea to check in with them by asking if they're comfortable sharing with you some of their struggles and exploring some of their goals for therapy. Discussing how you are willing and able to support them in their mental health journey is also important. 

2) They have tried therapy in the past and found it to be helpful - it's very normal to experience a recurrence of symptoms during times of transition. Therapy can help them adapt their coping tools to their new circumstances and help them get back on track to feeling their best.

3) They are experiencing symptoms that keep them from living the life they want to live. Many of my clients contacted me because they were struggling with anxious thoughts that they had trouble controlling, issues with setting boundaries in relationships with peers and significant others, trouble giving themselves permission to relax, confidence issues that prevent them from trying new opportunities that they are interested in. Therapy can help college students develop tools to help them work though all of these challenges.

Helpful tips to remember:

  • You don't need to be in a crisis to seek therapy. Therapy can help people adopt and apply healthy coping skills that support strong mental health into adulthood.

  • Each generation experiences unique challenges and difficulties and it's not helpful to compare. It's important to listen and be supportive when someone from a different generation expresses difficulty.

  • The length of time in therapy is unique to each individual. As a therapist, I provide tools and skills that my clients can choose to apply to their life, however it's up to my clients to use what's learned in therapy. Some people need time to establish trust with their therapist before they can begin to open up and make changes, while other people can feel more comfortable moving more quickly. My goal as a therapist is to help my clients meet their own therapeutic goals and to help them graduate from therapy when they feel ready. Some clients need only a few months, and some clients prefer to utilize therapy throughout their entire college experience to help navigate different challenges that can emerge during this stressful time.

  • Get support for yourself if you need it. It's not easy to have someone that you raised and deeply love move away from you; especially when you know they are struggling. If you feel yourself becoming overwhelmed with worry and concern, consider finding your own support to help you cope and adjust.

  • Your student needs your support, but also needs you to respect their privacy. In order for therapy to be the most effective, clients need three things:

    1. To feel comfortable with their therapist (fit is so important)

    2. To be invested enough to schedule their own appointments and communicate with their therapist on their own

    3. To know that whatever they share in therapy is completely confidential

This means that you can help them search for and get connected with a therapist, but once they are set up with a therapist you leave it completely up to your student to schedule appointments and communicate with their therapist. You can ask them how therapy is going, but respect that they may not want to share all of the details. This can be hard, I know. As a parent, I completely understand the feeling of concern and wishing that I could know everything that my kids are experiencing and sharing in therapy; as a therapist I know that when students are fully invested in their own therapy and feel a sense of confidentiality and privacy that they are more successful in therapy. All of us need a healthy space to share things that we don't share with our parents, it certainly does not mean that they don't love you or feel close to you. It means that they are human!

How to support your college student in their search to find a therapist:

  1. Encourage them to meet with a physician to rule out any potential medical reasons for their symptoms. College campuses often have wonderful physicians available to students. While a referral to therapy from a doctor is not required, many doctors have great relationships with local therapists and may be able to give you a referral. 

  2. Decide if you want to use insurance benefits or not. There are many pros and many cons to using insurance to help pay for mental health services. It's important to consider what is going to work best for your student. I no longer accept insurance and here's a link if you'd like to read about why. I do provide documentation necessary to seek reimbursement from insurance providers.

  3. Consider therapy services at your student's college or university. Many campuses have highly trained and skilled licensed mental health professionals available to students at free or discounted rates. These services are often limited to only a few sessions, but can be a great resource for accessing mental health support.

  4. Browse online directories for a licensed mental health professional (it's so important to work with a licensed professional. Active licensure ensures that they have received the proper education and training to provide therapy, and greatly reduces the risk of causing unintended harm). Directories that I recommend are:

  5. Encourage your student to identify 2-5 therapists whose information (website, blog posts, directory info, social media, etc.) really speaks to them. Then encourage your student to contact them, usually via email or phone. You can certainly contact the therapist first, however remember that it's important for your student to end up in contact with their therapist to schedule their own appointments and complete their paperwork. When first reaching out to a therapist, it's helpful to provide a short description of what's going on, goals for therapy, and contact information- this allows the therapist to return the call/email, and ensure that they are able to help with your student's specific needs. 

  6. Keep in mind that fit is important. If your student is not happy with their therapist after a few sessions, it's okay to try someone else. There are many different personalities, therapeutic styles, and approaches to therapy. Not every therapist is a perfect fit for everyone, but there is the perfect therapist out there for everyone! 


If you'd like to learn more about me, you can do so here. If you ever have any questions about the therapy that I provide, or my practice, please feel welcome to contact me a

I deeply care for my clients the way that I would want my child's therapist to care for them. Thank you for trusting me with your student's mental health. - Sarah









Please seek help immediately if your student, yourself, or someone you know is in crisis. Call 988 on any phone to get connected with mental health support in a mental health emergency. 

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