The primary objective of TJC Counseling Services is to help students with personal, emotional and adjustment problems so that they can be successful in college. We believe that you, the parents, play an extremely important role in helping meet that objective. Adjustment problems are a common and expected experience for most students, particularly for freshmen or transfer students. Parents are usually the first to notice changes in their student's behavior, attitudes, or emotional stability that might indicate a problem. Talk with your student about your concerns. Let your student know that emotional adjustment problems are common among college students and that Counseling Services may be able to help.
A lot of changes occur during the late teen and early adult years. Most are normal developmental challenges, such as identity formation, career decision making, relationships development, and lifestyle adjustment. These issues may respond well to short term counseling/therapy. On the other hand, students of this age group are at significant risk of developing a number of serious mental health problems, many of which require psychiatric care and long-term counseling/therapy. College may not be a safe or appropriate atmosphere for some when this occurs. College is a deceptively stressful environment with many demands and requires a great deal of autonomy.
Scope of Services
Counseling Center services are intended primarily to help students with short-term emotional/adjustment problems rather than long-term or intensive psychiatric problems. If your student has been previously hospitalized or has (or develops) a serious long-term mental illness or emotional problem where on-going psychotherapy treatment is recommended, our services will not be an appropriate substitute for those services. (Examples of problems that require services beyond what we can provide include schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, severe eating disorders, severe PTSD, severe depression, chronic suicidal ideation, chemical dependency, etc.) Also, there are specialty areas in which we may not be able to provide the best services.
We work from a short-term counseling/therapy model with a limited number of sessions (6 in a long semester for on-campus counseling). This type of counseling fits the vast majority of students we see. If longer term or specialty services are needed, we will be happy to help with referrals for private mental health care in the local area.
There is no cost to the student for counseling services on campus. Again, students must be enrolled at TJC during the time they are seeking services and the services must be related to personal barriers to academic success. Counseling Services does not provide court-ordered evaluations, mental health evaluations for disability, anger management or other rehabilitative counseling for probation or parole, and cannot serve as a counselor of record for divorce or custody mediation.
Referring a Student for Counseling
For students who would like to make an appointment for the on-campus counselor, please encourage them to fill out the appointment request at www.tjc.edu/counselingappointment. The form allows them to select days and times of their availability and they will be sent an appointment offer for the first opening that coincides with their choices. Students should not be physically walked over or sent to the counselor’s office since appointments are required. When students receive their appointment offer, they must confirm. The average time from request to initial service is 5 business days but this can vary at peak times and depending on how many options the student sends in their request form.
Family, friends, faculty and others are welcome to contact Counseling Services directly via email at firstname.lastname@example.org to give background information on a referral for students planning to see the on-campus counselor; however, the appointment can only be made directly by the student. During the initial consultation, the student will meet with a counselor to determine how Counseling Services can best meet the student's needs. Please be advised that Counseling Services does not typically "cold call” students of concern unless their behavior is considered a threat or a disruption of the learning or living environment on campus. We are happy to work with a member of the students’ support system, including faculty, on the best way to facilitate a referral. Having someone a student already has a relationship with may be the one to suggest or recommend counseling as this often leads to the best chance of follow-through.
If the student is a client of Counseling Services, federal and state law prohibits us from acknowledging that the student is a client or discussing his or her case in any way without specific written permission from the student. This law applies whether or not you have referred the student to us or have discussed the student's situation with us before he or she becomes a client. If you wish to follow-up with us after referring or discussing the student, please encourage the student to sign a written Release of Information form authorizing his or her counselor to release information to you when he or she comes for counseling.
Tips for Recognizing Students in Distress
At one time or another everyone feels upset or distressed. However, there are three levels of student distress which, when present over a period of time, suggest that the problems are more than the "normal" ones. (This is adapted from NaBITA threat assessment tool):
- Changes in academic performance in the classroom
- Significant drop in examination scores
- Change in pattern of interaction
- Changes in physical appearance
- Problems concentrating and remembering things or making decisions
- Repeated request for special consideration
- New or regularly occurring behavior which pushes the limits and may interfere with class
- Management or be disruptive to other students, faculty or staff
- Unusual or exaggerated emotional responses
- Persistent sadness or unexplained crying
- High levels of irritability or inappropriate excitement
- Highly disturbed behavior
- Outbursts of anger
- Inability to communicate clearly
- Irrational conversation or speech that seems disconnected
- Loss of contact with reality (seeing/hearing things that are not there, beliefs or actions at odds with reality)
- Suspiciousness, irrational feelings of persecution
- Statements related to death or dying or feelings of hopelessness
- Threats of harming self or harming others
Level I issues are often recommended to be discussed between you and the student of concern with the recommendation of counseling should you find that circumstances appear to be of the nature to benefit from counseling. Levels 2 and 3 will likely require a more direct intervention by assisting the student to get mental health assistance more immediately via community resources and/or calling Campus Police if there is a possibility of risk of harm to self or others.