Information for Parents

About Counseling Services

The goal of the two professional staff of Counseling Services is to assist currently-enrolled UNO students in addressing mental health concerns in a professional, unbiased, objective way. To that end, Counseling Services offers problem assessment, short-term personal counseling for concerns which can reasonably be addressed within a limited number of sessions, and career testing and counseling. All students seeking services at Counseling Services are scheduled for problem assessment so a counselor can determine the best course of action to address the student's concerns. Since not all mental health concerns can be addressed in short-term counseling, when a student's treatment needs are beyond the scope of services offered at Counseling Services and/or when a student desires ongoing counseling without session limits, Counseling Services staff will provide referrals for ongoing, longer-term or specialized treatment.

Confidentiality

All services provided by Counseling Services are confidential as defined by state and federal law and no information can be released, within or outside of the University, including to parents, without a client’s written consent. This means that Counseling Services staff cannot reveal the identity of students who seek our services, will not confirm or deny a student's participation in counseling, and will not provide any details about what has been discussed in counseling without the student's written consent.

Appointments and Initial Assessment

Apart from crisis situations (e.g., suicidal concerns, serious impairments in functioning), Counseling Services sees students by appointment. If your son or daughter is not in crisis but you believe he/she is in need of services, encourage him/her to contact Counseling Services (504-280-6683; 226 University Center) to schedule an intake/assessment appointment. Please note that the student must schedule the appointment him/herself. After assessment is completed, the student’s counselor will make treatment recommendations which may include short-term treatment through Counseling Services and/or referrals for longer-term, ongoing or specialized treatment.

Examples of situations and concerns which may warrant a referral:

  • when a student desires ongoing counseling without session limits
  • when psychiatric assessment and/or medication management is/are warranted/needed
  • when long-standing, chronic mental health concerns are present
  • when ADHD and/or other psychological testing is needed
  • when a student desires psychological testing and/or formal diagnosis to document a disability
  • when a student desires psychological testing and/or formal diagnosis for employment or legal purposes
  • when potentially problematic use of alcohol and/or other drugs is present
  • when alcohol and/or other drug use confounds diagnosis and/or decisions regarding treatment
  • when assessment and/or counseling is mandated by a court of law

Crisis Situations

If you believe your son or daughter is experiencing a mental health crisis (e.g., suicidal concerns, serious impairments in functioning), Counseling Services counselors are available for crisis assessments during Counseling Services regular office hours (M-F; 8:00 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.). For crisis situations occurring off-campus, outside of regular office hours, and/or during university holidays and closures, please call 911. Additional after hours mental health emergency resources include all hospital emergency rooms and the 24 hour ViaLink crisis counseling line which can be reached by dialing 800-749-2673.

Differences between Counseling in a K-12 Setting and Services at Counseling Services

The nature of services in a university counseling center such as UNO Counseling Services is quite different from services available from staff counselors or social workers in typical K-12 settings. Students in K-12 settings often are able to "drop-in" to speak to a school counselor or social worker "just to talk" or possibly to de-escalate when highly distressed. Additionally, if parents have concerns about their children in this setting, they may contact the school counselor or social worker and ask that they "check-in" with the student or possibly even pull the student from the classroom. This more "informal" form of counseling provided by many K-12 schools is provided under different parameters than those in place at a university counseling center.

Perhaps the most significant difference between counseling in a K-12 setting and in a university setting is that most university students are adults (as defined by law) who can consent to confidential mental health counseling. When a university student has mental health concerns, he/she can choose to seek services at a counseling center such as UNO Counseling Services. The codes of ethics of mental health professionals prohibit seeking-out (or soliciting) clients. As such, Counseling Services staff will not contact a student at the request of another party. When a student consents to receive mental health services, it is the counselor's role to assess the student's concerns and determine an appropriate course of treatment to address those concerns. This is not the "informal," "drop-in" counseling described above. Students seeking services at UNO Counseling Services are first scheduled for an assessment session at which time the counselor will conduct a thorough assessment of the student's presenting concerns and history. This information is used to make treatment recommendations. The primary goal of Counseling Services' staff is to assist students with identifying the appropriate resources and services needed to address their concerns. If the counselor believes the student's concerns can be addressed in short-term counseling such as is offered at UNO Counseling Services, the counselor will work with the student to develop treatment goals and a treatment plan specifically related to the student's concerns. If the counselor determines that the student's concerns are beyond the scope of services offered at UNO Counseling Services, referrals will be provided. It is also important to note that, if a student is receiving mental health services from another mental health professional, Counseling Services staff will not duplicate services and will refer the student to their current provider for counseling.

Psychiatric Care and Medication Management

If your son or daughter requires psychiatric services including management of psychotropic medication, we encourage you to work with your son or daughter to secure such services prior to starting at UNO. While Counseling Services does not have a psychiatrist (or other individual with prescribing privileges) on staff, Counseling Services staff can provide referral information for students desiring/needing medication or medication management. It is recommended that students with health insurance first consult their insurance policy’s schedule of benefits to determine level of coverage and the insurer's preferred provider list to identify an appropriate provider. 

A Word about Long-Standing Mental Health Concerns and Continuity of Care

As noted on this website, UNO Counseling Services offers short-term treatment for mental health concerns which can reasonably be addressed in a limited number of sessions. If your son or daughter has long-standing mental health concerns and/or desires or needs ongoing, longer-term mental health counseling, we encourage you to work with your son or daughter to secure such services prior to starting at UNO. Consulting with your health insurance preferred-provider list is a good place to start. For those without health insurance, Counseling Services staff can provide contact information for social service and "sliding-scale" agencies in the greater New Orleans area. Additionally, please note that for reasons related to professional ethics, if your son or daughter is currently receiving services from another mental health professional, UNO Counseling Services will not duplicate services.

What to Do if a Student is Reluctant to Seek Help

Remember, that the decision to seek counseling is a personal choice. Nevertheless, you can assist a student who is ambivalent about seeking counseling in a number of ways including:

  • Normalize the process of pursuing counseling.
  • Assure the student that counseling services are appropriate for anyone needing assistance in coping with and resolving emotional and/or interpersonal concerns.
  • Let the student know that no problem is too big or too small for counseling.
  • Inform the student that he/she can make an appointment to speak to a counselor without making a commitment to ongoing counseling.
  • Remind the student that any information shared during counseling sessions is kept confidential within the limits of the law and will not be disclosed to anyone without his/her written permission.
  • Acknowledge, validate, and discuss the student's real fears and concerns about seeking help. Some students may feel that counseling is an admission of weakness or failure. Tell students that it takes considerable courage and integrity to face oneself, acknowledge one's troubles or difficulties, and admit the desire or need for assistance.
  • Suggest that the student visit the Counseling Services website as a way to become familiar with the services offered.

Guidelines for Helpful Interactions

Discussing concerns you may have with your son or daughter can be unnerving and even uncomfortable at times, for everyone involved. Following are some guidelines that may assist you in that interaction:

  • Talk to her/him in private.
  • Explain what has aroused your concerns.
  • Express your concern for her/him in a direct, straightforward manner.
  • Listen carefully.
  • Show understanding and empathy for what he/she is experiencing.
  • Avoid criticizing and/or sounding judgmental.
  • Consider Counseling Services as a resource and discuss a possible referral.
  • Remember that the student has the right to accept, think over, or refuse your recommendations.
  • If your son or daughter resists help and you are still concerned, it may be helpful to consult with a member of the Counseling Services staff.
  • Remind that student that communication with counselors in Counseling Services is confidential as defined by state and federal law.