Information for Parents
College can be a challenging time of transition, not only for students themselves, but also for parents. Student’s concerns or difficulties can become a source of worry for parents, especially when students are living away from home. The move away from the familiar school environment to third level education and the growing independence of the still young students can be hard to deal with for both students and their parents – in particular if parents fear that their sons or daughter are struggling for personal or academic reasons.
It can be useful and reassuring for parents to know that DIT offers a wide range of support for students, like for instance the student counselling service.
What does the DIT Student Counselling Services Offer?
We offer a free and confidential psychological counselling all DIT registered students. We offer both individual and group counselling. Currently we do not offer family therapy.
After an initial assessment of a student's concerns, the student counselling staff will determine if an individual's needs may best be met by the service or are beyond the scope of our services. In the latter case, students will receive a referral to other sources of assistance. These sources may be on-campus or off-campus in the extended community.
How Do I Know If My Son or Daughter Needs Counselling?
There is no litmus test for knowing for certain that a student should seek help, however, we encourage students and parents to err on the side of utilizing services rather than waiting for a problem or issue to resolve itself. Frequently, the initial session is treated as a consultation, not a commitment to ongoing contact with SCS.
People seek counselling for many reasons. It may include long-standing mental health issues that they have already sought treatment for prior to coming to the Dublin Institute, a desire to enhance their personal growth, or address normal developmental concerns.
Common issues that students come to SCS to discuss include:
- Significant changes in mood (depression)
- Anxiety and stress management
- Relationship issues (break-ups, isolation or difficulty forming relationships, conflicts, etc.)
- Alcohol and substance abuse
- Eating issues and body image
- Family issues (divorce, financial stressors, etc.)
- References to suicide
- Anger management
- Academic concerns (contemplating dropping out of college, worrying about meeting academic deadlines/demands, etc)
What can parents do if they feel their son or daughter needs counselling?
Counselling only works if students wish to come themselves. We therefore only offer appointments made with the student, not with their parents.
If you feel your son or daughter might benefit from counselling, tell them openly that you are concerned about them, and that support is available for them at DIT. You can tell them that they can come to see a counsellor in DIT to talk without committing themselves for further sessions. You can also refer them to this website for more information about the service. If they don’t want to speak to a counsellor, try to explore alternative sources of help with them, like for instance the DIT Career’s service, the Disability Service, Chaplaincy or the college GP. Alternatively, they may wish to speak to a lecturer they can trust (for instance if struggling academically). All the DIT services work very closely together, and other services as well as lecturers will refer students on to a counsellor if they feel the students would benefit from counselling.
If you are very worried about your son or daughter (for instance severe self harming behaviour, potential suicide risk), and they refuse to speak to a counsellor, you may ring the counselling service to alert them that the student is at risk, and to ask them advice on what action can be taken.
Consulting the counselling service if the student is already in counselling at DIT
It can be disconcerting for parents when students are upset and in counselling, and it can be difficult for parents to accept that they may not know what is going on during their children’s counselling sessions.
Unfortunately, the DIT student counselling service is not in the position to offer consultation or even counselling for concerned parents. Furthermore, the counselling service is confidential and is determined by a professional code of ethics. Confidentiality has long been regarded as a “cornerstone of the helping relationship” and is a core value of psychologists and their profession. In as much as the counselling staff is eager to help you with your concerns or questions about your son or daughter, they cannot reveal nor confirm the identity of students seeking student counselling services, their participation in those services, nor the content of communications with those students without the student’s knowledge and written consent. Information about a student’s use of counselling services is kept separately from their academic record.
We understand that these limitations due to confidentiality can be frustrating for concerned parents. But it may reassure you that the DIT student counsellors are trained to assess any immediate risk (suicidal risk, severe self harming, danger to others). If the counsellor determines that a student is at immediate risk, they will contact parents and to their utmost to keep the student safe. If you feel that your son or daughter is at immediate risk, do contact the counselling service and discuss your concerns with the student’s counsellor.
What is the role of the counselling service secretary?
Often, the first person to whom a parent who rings our service may speak is the service’s secretary. If you are concerned about your son/daughter, the secretary’s role is to take down some contact details and then arrange for a counsellor to speak with you directly. The secretary can not offer telephone counselling or advise you on the best course of action to be taken.
We regret that we cannot offer consultative support to parents whose sons or daughters are not registered students within the Institute.