by Dr. Doug DeMerchant, Director of the Wheaton College Counseling Center
Why do students seek counseling?
Students come to the Wheaton College Counseling Center (WCCC) for a variety of reasons. Some are looking for help in coping with the pressures associated with adjustment to college life. Others want to learn more effective ways of developing, negotiating, or maintaining relationships. Counseling can be beneficial for students who are feeling depressed or anxious, as well as those who want to examine their beliefs or explore their current life situation. The WCCC offers students the opportunity to look at themselves and their environment and to change the way they think, feel, and behave so that they can make the most of their time at Wheaton College, and beyond.
What can a parent do?
While many students seek our services on their own, a parent is often the first person to recognize that a student is not functioning at his or her best. Students who are struggling or facing new challenges may turn to you for help in figuring out what to do because they know and trust you. You may find it helpful in these situations to have some basic information about the resources available to your student at the WCCC, and to direct them to these. The WCCC is available to provide professional counseling services to students, and to consult with you when you have concerns about how to best help your student.
What is available for students at the WCCC?
Any enrolled full-time Wheaton College student is eligible for counseling services. All WCCC services are confidential and freely provided to each student. For those who may want or need longer-term services, off-campus counseling, medication evaluations or psychiatric services, we have many high quality community referrals available.
A student in crisis can come directly to the WCCC and an assessment will be done. The counselor will provide immediate care and work with the student to form a plan to help him or her through this difficult time. The Counseling Center staff are on-call and available for after-hours emergency situations. After hours we may be contacted by Residence Life, Public Safety or Student Health Services.
In addition to the individual counseling services, the WCCC offers group, pre-marital and couples counseling, as well as presentations, workshops, seminars and consultations.
The Counseling Center hours are Monday through Friday from 8AM to 5PM. There are fourteen on staff at the Counseling Center (two doctoral level clinical psychologists, three master’s level professional counselors, an office administrator and eight Wheaton College graduate students in clinical psychology with us twenty hours each week in the Practicum Training Program).
What is available for parents at the WCCC?
Most of our students would agree that, although this is a time of exploring new freedom and autonomy, parents still play a critical role in supporting and nurturing them through this stage of life. Your relationship with your son or daughter will continue to be one of the most important contributors to his or her success at Wheaton College. We encourage parents to communicate openly with students, providing support while at the same time honoring your child’s development into the unique individual God desires him or her to become.
The WCCC is available to assist you in the transition process and in facilitating a successful student experience. Consultation with the WCCC staff is offered to any parent by phone or in person. If you are worried about your student and are uncertain about what to do, you are welcome to call us, identify yourself as a parent of a current student, and ask to consult with a counselor. Usually this service is available immediately. Please note: Though legally we are bound by the limits of confidentiality, we will do our best to assist you with your concerns.
Parents and Confidentiality:
As a professional counseling service, our staff is required to restrict the sharing of counseling-related information. In accordance with professional ethics and Illinois state law, any information disclosed in the context of a professional counseling relationship is considered confidential. This means that what is shared by a student in counseling sessions is not discussed with any person outside of the WCCC, with the following exceptions: (1) the student gives written permission to share his or her counseling-related information with a third party; (2) a counselor believes that the student may harm himself/herself or another person; (3) a counselor suspects the abuse of a child, elder, or other dependent adult. Unless the counselor has obtained a signed release from the student, or perceives that a student may be in immediate danger, the WCCC will not be able to share any information related to the student being seen at the WCCC with a parent.
We understand that parents often feel they should be able to know about what their son or daughter may be discussing in counseling, and that confidentiality requirements are often a source of frustration. We encourage parents who desire to know more about their particular student’s counseling experience to talk with their son or daughter. On the whole, students tend to respond positively to open, honest communication. Though at times a student may choose to limit parental involvement, we find that the majority appreciate parental concern, acceptance, and guidance in the midst of the struggles that they may face while at Wheaton College.
* We invite you to learn more about the services of the Wheaton College Counseling Center by visiting their website.
* We also encourage you to get to know the whole range of services provided under the umbrella of Wheaton's Student Care. The Student Care and Services website is available for viewing here.