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Parent & Family Guide to Counseling Services


We understand and appreciate that parents often wish to be involved when their son/daughter seeks counseling; however, if a student is 18 years or older, confidentiality guidelines do not permit us to talk with parents about their student's participation in counseling without the student's written consent. However, you are always welcome to contact the Counseling Service and speak to a therapist to share your concerns. While we may not be able to acknowledge anything specific about your son/daughter, we will take your concerns seriously and treat them sensitively. It may be helpful, however, to share with your son/daughter the fact that you spoke with us. It is important for you and the therapist to be open and honest with your son/daughter if counseling is to be effective. You can also remain confident that the information you share with us will remain confidential within the counseling staff members unless there is an imminent threat to the safety of a student.

Students under 18 years of age

In the state of Maryland, students 17 years of age or younger are considered minors and are not subject to the same rules and regulations of confidentiality that students 18 or older are. Families in this situation can consult with us directly for more information.

Academic Records

Counseling records are separate from a student's academic record. No one at the college has access to a student's counseling record unless the student gives permission for that access.

Make An Appointment

If you are concerned about your son/daughter, you can encourage him/her to call the Counseling Service for an appointment, for free and confidential services. We can also consult with you about how to help your son/daughter. It is important to note, that while we know you are concerned about your son/daughter, our policy is that the student make the appointment. This both ensures confidentiality and encourages your son/daughter to take responsibility for himself/herself. When your son/daughter calls the Counseling and Health Center at 240-895-4289, the office coordinator will schedule the first available appointment.

The first appointment is approximately 75 minutes, 25 minutes for filling out the appropriate paper work and 50 minutes talking with the assigned therapist.

After completing paperwork, the therapist will meet with the student to assess his/her current situation. At that time, the therapist will determine whether further sessions will be necessary or if more specialized or longer term counseling would be beneficial. If the therapist feels a student needs more than the Counseling Service can offer, the therapist will discuss alternative counseling options that the student can pursue off campus. Any costs/fees of services outside of St. Mary's College Counseling Service are the responsibility of the student.

How can I get help for my son or daughter?

There may be times you are particularly concerned about your son/daughter. For example, he/she may call and are upset, tearful, or despondent. Despite your best efforts, he/she doesn't seem to be feeling or getting any better. Counseling is available on an urgent basis to talk to your son/daughter. We want to provide students with the help and support they need before a crisis occurs. Please encourage your son or daughter to call or stop by the Counseling Service and know that he/she can be evaluated that same day.

If your son/daughter is in an immediate crisis, for example, he/she is unable to function, has lost touch with reality, or are threatening to harm himself/herself, please see our Emergency Services link.


Counseling Services are included in your son/daughter's health fee if he/she is a full-time St. Mary's student. Please note, however, that should a referral outside our Counseling Service be necessary, students are responsible for all expenses incurred.

Emergency Protocol:

Counseling Services staff members are available Monday through Friday 8:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m. In the event that a crisis occurs after hours either Public Safety (240) 895-4911 or the Residence Life on-call professional should be contacted. In the event that immediate intervention is required by one of the mental health staff, the Public Safety officer or on-call professional will contact counseling services staff. In the instance that the student requires immediate psychiatric services, he/she will be transported directly to St. Mary's Hospital.

Resources for Parents:

Let the Journey Begin: A Parent's Monthly Guide to the College Experience by Jacqueline Kiernan MacKay and Wanda Johnson Ingram

Making the Most of College - Students Speak Their Minds by Richard J. Light

adapted from Syracuse University Counseling Center, Syracuse NY