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Counseling and Psychological Services

Counseling and Psychological Services

Frequently Asked Questions for Parents


 Parents! - if you are interested in viewing Dr. Brunner's presentation to parents at orientation, please follow this link to a posting of the video on YouTube.


The Counseling Center staff welcomes any comments or questions parents may have about our services. However, parents should be aware that the Counseling Center is ordinarily prevented by confidentiality laws of the State of Florida from disclosing any information about the students that have been counseled. Although we may not be able to reveal any information about students who use our services, we are willing to receive input from parents about their concerns.

Please Note: No disclosure about students in counseling is ordinarily possible.


Where is the counseling center located?

The counseling center (CAPS) is located in room 228 the second floor of Howard Hall on the plaza.

What is counseling?

Counseling is the application of mental health, psychological or human development principles, through cognitive, affective, behavioral or systemic intervention strategies, that address wellness, personal growth, or career development, as well as pathology.

Do I need to have a mental health illness to see a counselor?

No, it is possible to discuss/consult with a counselor about general life issues, relationships and careers.

What kinds of services doe the CAPS provide?

The following services are provided at no charge to the student:

  • Individual counseling (both personal and career)
  • Group counseling (determined by student needs)
  • Couple's counseling
  • Crisis intervention
  • Consultation
  • Biofeedback (in conjunction with individual counseling)
  • Online treatment (TAO)
  • Referrals
  • Psychiatric consultation
  • LD/ADHD testing (**there are fees for this service**)
  • Workshops and presentations

Who is eligible to use the counseling center?

Our services are provided for those students currently enrolled in the academic session during which the counseling takes place.  In the case of couple's counseling, both individuals in the couple must be currently enrolled students.

What will my counseling cost?

Our services are provided free for those students currently enrolled in the academic session during which the counseling takes place. A minimal fee may be required only for assessment inventories used in the counseling process. Formal testing services (i.e., ADHD, Learning Disabilities) require a more substantial fee. If a student is not currently enrolled, a Health Bridge Fee of $54 is required for students to be seen for one semester following the last semester in which they were enrolled (e.g. during the summer following the Spring Semester in which they were enrolled).

Are there time limits as to how long I can meet with my counselor?

The number of times you meet with your counselor will be determined by your progress and in collaboration with your counselor. Many students are able to resolve their issues in 6-7 visits.

What are the hours of the counseling center?

During the Fall and Spring semesters the center is open from 8 a.m. – 5:30 p.m. Monday-Thursday and 8 a.m. – 5 p.m. on Friday. During the summer the center is open from 8:30 a.m. – 5 p.m. Monday – Friday. There is a counselor on call 24/7.

How long will I have to wait for an appointment?

Students are seen as soon as possible based on triage of their presenting issues. Students in crisis will be seen within 24 hours or sooner. During extremely busy times of the semester, you may be put on a wait list and will be notified as soon as a counselor is available during a time that is convenient to each person's schedule.

How long will the appointment take?

Initially the student will fill complete the triage process, which will take about 60-90 minutes. This involves filling out information on a computer, signing consent forms, and meeting briefly with a counselor to determine the most appropriate services. 

The first session (i.e., intake) and subsequent appointments will last about 50 minutes.

What about confidentiality in counseling?

Counseling is confidential with the exceptions noted in state statute, which will be explained to you during your initial visit. Confidentiality is extremely important and we take very seriously the role of maintaining confidentiality for any and all students that come to see us.

Will my sessions go on my official student record?

No, counseling records are maintained independent of academic records.

What will happen in my first appointment?

During your first appointment you will meet with an assigned counselor in a pleasant, comfortable environment where you will get an opportunity to share with your counselor the issues that are distressing you. The counselor will obtain background information and both of you will develop goals and a treatment plan for addressing those issues.

Why do I have to complete the computerized intake to schedule an appointment?

The information you share during this computerized intake will help determine how soon you will need to be seen by a counselor, and also provide the counselor a glimpse of your concerns and important background information that will facilitate your progress.

What if someone just needs information about a referral?

Referral information about various community services are available by calling or visiting the counseling center and speaking with a counselor.

If I’m worried about someone other than myself, what should I do?

Faculty, staff, parents, friends and roommates can help students in need of counseling by calling to get information about our services and appointment times; as well as picking up literature available at our office on campus. As much as possible, the individual in need of counseling should come in to make his/her own appointment. Although the counseling sessions are private and confidential, you may accompany the individual to the appointment to give support and encouragement. You can also contact the Dean of Students' Office Care Team and submit a person of concern form if you believe the person is not in need of immediate psychological help.

What if I feel that I am not a good match or I’m not comfortable with my counselor?

We encourage every student to be open and honest with their counselor, and if a change is needed, please tell the counselor and a change to a different counselor will be made as soon as it can be accommodated with scheduling.

What if I need assistance after hours?

Students in immediate distress outside of normal business hours (evenings, weekends, and holidays) can call CAPS (239) 590-7950, to speak with a mental helath professional.

Parents concerned about a student in immediate distress outside of normal business hours (evenings, weekends, and holidays) can call our help line (239-745-3277) for a brief consult.

For emergency situations, if the student lives on campus, please call (239) 590-1900; off-campus, call 911.

Can someone request a particular counselor?

Particular counselors may be requested, however, there may be a delay in being seen due to scheduling. Also, not all counselors are qualified to treat all issues, especially when it involves specialized testing.

Can someone come in to talk about someone else (friend, roommate, family member etc.) that they’re worried about?

It is possible to discuss concerns you have about other individuals, but those individuals need to make the decision to change as they see appropriate. If you are concerned about their safety, or intervention needs to be done, a counselor can help you determine how to address the individual(s), but cannot directly intervene for you.

Can someone receive counseling by email, instant messaging, Face Book, etc?

Although with modern technology there is counseling taking place utilizing various electronic means, CAPS does not currently participate in this form of counseling.

We do offer however, an online treatment specifically for anxiety (i.e., TAO) that involves completing online modules and speaking briefly (e.g., 15 mins.) with a counselor via videoconference. 

Where can someone get help with study skills like note-taking or doing better on exams?

From time to time there are min-workshops presented to assist students with these issues and are offered through CAPS and the Office of Adaptive Services: 590-7956. Other tutoring and help can be obtained through the Center for Academic Achievement: 590-7906.

Where can someone get help with career-related questions?

Students can obtain career counseling through CAPS, and also arrange for resume building, arrange for mock interviewing and other services through the Career Development Services: 590-7946.

Where can someone ask health-related questions or get help for medical problems?

Medical-related/health questions are better handled through the Student Health Services located in the Wellness Center: 590-7966.

Which office can help with disability questions or requests for accommodations due to LD’s?

The office which can best assist you is the Office of Adaptive Services located in the first floor of Howard Hall on the plaza: 590-7956

Can faculty and staff go to the Counseling Center?

The counseling center is intended for student use only, however, referral information can be obtained by faculty and staff. Faculty and staff need to use the counseling services provided according benefits provided through their benefits package and can be explained to them by Human Resources: 590-1400

When my child arrives, I want him/her to see a counselor. What is the procedure?

Individual students will need to come in person to the counseling center, fill out the electronic intake, have their situation triaged, and then be scheduled with a counselor based on schedule availability.

My child is not adjusting well and refuses help. What can I do?

This can be a very difficult and trying situation for parents. For some very helpful tips, please reference the section in College Central by clicking on this site:

My child is concerned about what goes on his/her school record.

Counseling records are maintained separately from academic records and will not show up on any transcripts or related areas unless there is specific written permission from your child. Also protecting your child’s information is FERPA. The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act is a federal law designed to protect the privacy of a student’s educational records. It applies to schools receiving funds through a U. S. Department of Education program. Once a student enters college, information from his student record cannot be shared with others - including parents - unless the student gives written permission. The law does allow an institution to disclose records without consent in some special cases. These include health and safety emergencies. All schools are required to post an annual FERPA notification. Information regarding FERPA can be obtained by clicking here.

Is there anything we can do to facilitate continuing psychological and psychiatric treatment when my son or daughter enters FGCU?

You could have prior treatment records or a treatment summary mailed to the Director of the Counseling Center, Dr. Judi Gibbons,10501FGCU Blvd. South, Fort Myers, FL 33965. We will then have that information when your son or daughter arrives at the Counseling Center.

Whom do I call concerning my child's safety or an emergency concerning my child?

University Police can be called at 239-590-1900 or 239-590-1911.

What can I do to protect my child's mental health?

The Jed Foundation provides some excellent tips. Click here for information.

How can I communicate with someone at the Counseling Center if I have a concern about my son or daughter?

Remember that unless we have written permission from your child to share information with you, we cannot acknowledge that your child is receiving services, nor communicate any particular information, although we can always receive information that you would like to share. 

The most efficient way to communicate with CAPS is during business hours by calling 590-7950. CAPS can be called after hours to leave a confidential voice mail, or you may email CAPS, but realize that emails are not subject to confidentiality rules. We do not send email responses to inquiries about students.

Florida has a very broad public records law. As a result, any written communication created or received by Florida Gulf Coast University employees is subject to disclosure to the public and the media, upon request, unless otherwise exempt. Under Florida law, e-mail addresses are public records. If you do not want your email address released in response to a public records request, do not send electronic mail to this entity. Instead, contact this office by phone or in writing.

When my son or daughter arrives, I would like my son or daughter to meet with a counselor. Should I come also to provide you with information?

If the student requests the parent to join a session, we will honor that request and we do enjoy meeting parents. We have found, however, that self-initiation is more likely to foster a more positive college adjustment.

If I am concerned that my son or daughter is not adjusting well and refuses to seek help, what should I do?

One course of action may be to contact Residence Life at (239) 590-1700, and through having a Resident Director contact your son or daughter. Assistance could be provided in helping your son or daughter with the adjusting to the new environment. In case you believe the situation is serious to the point of endangering your son or daughter's safety, you should phone the Dean of Students at (239) 590-7900 or with University Police at (239) 590-1900. In those circumstances, you are also advised to follow up your phone call with a visit to your son or daughter to see for yourself and arrange help.

My son or daughter is concerned about making an appointment at the Counseling Center due to concerns that the information about the visit will appear on the school record? Is this correct?

No, counseling is confidential except in unusual circumstances involving protection of life or required by law. Counseling records are professional records and are not part of any university record.

What type of counseling services are provided by CAPS?

See a list of services provided for more details. Although counseling at CAPS is free and confidential, we are also happy to make referrals off campus for more extensive or specialized psychotherapy if necessary.

My son or daughter was taking a psychotropic medication before entering college. Can medication monitoring be continued under the care of a Counseling Center psychiatrist?

Yes, students can obtain psychiatric services through CAPS provided the student also attends regular counseling or case management with a CAPS counselor. In order to be seen for psychiatric services, students must be seen for an intake in CAPS and be assigned a CAPS counselor individual counseling or case management. We believe that most students can learn new strategies through counseling to help them cope more effectively with their problems.  If your son/daughter is taking stimulant medication, we may require formalized testing for ADHD that is up-to-date.

My son or daughter has been diagnosed with ADHD and is taking medication. Will my son or daughter be able to get refills for the medication?

There is a protocol that CAPS uses to provide services for students diagnosed with ADHD. Please click here for information. Additional questions may be directed to Dr. Ghali at 239-590-7950.

I am worried that I will miss my son or daughter terribly when leaving home. Do you have any suggestions?

Often overlooked is the fact that the college experience is a significant transition for the parents of college students. As parents, you may experience feelings of happiness, excitement, and pride when your son or daughter leaves for college. At the same time, you may feel a sense of sadness and pain and have many understandable fears and concerns about your son or daughter's future and well-being. You may worry about your son or daughter's safety and ability to care effectively for themselves. You may fear “losing” your son or daughter as they begin to function more independently and forms deep attachments with peers. You may be concerned about how your son or daughter will deal with alcohol, drugs, and sexual relationships. You may also wonder how your son or daughter's performance in college will reflect on you as the parent

Recognize that it is normal to have mixed feelings when your son or daughter leaves home. Feelings of pain and loss often accompany separation from loved ones. It is also normal to feel a sense of relief when your son or daughter leaves for college, and to look forward to some time alone, or with your significant other, or with your younger son or daughter.

Do your best to maintain your own sense of well-being. This may involve eating and sleeping well, exercising, and setting new and creative goals for yourself. Perhaps this is a good time to do some of things you put off while your son or daughter was growing up; taking on a project or hobby can be an excellent way to channel your energy and feelings.

What are some resources to help me understand the transitions for both me and my son or daughter?

The following websites provide some rather helpful information and insight for this transition:

How can I support my son or daughter during this transitional period going off to college?

Although your son or daughter may want and need to become more autonomous during this period, it is important for them to know you are still available. Maintaining a supportive relationship with them can be critical, particularly during their first year of college. If you and your son or daughter were not particularly close prior to their leaving home, it is still important for you to convey your support. You may be surprised to find that some space and distance from your son or daughter can help improve your relationship with them.

It is important to maintain regular contact with your son or daughter, but also to allow space for your son or daughter to approach you and set the agenda for some of your conversations. Let your son or daughter know that you respect and support their right to make independent decisions and that you will serve as an advocate and an advisor when asked. Finally, recognize that is normal for your son or daughter to seek your help one day and reject it the next. Such behavior can be confusing and exhausting for parents, so make sure to take care of yourself by talking about your feelings with your own support system.

Be realistic and specific with your son or daughter about financial issues, including what you will and will not pay for, as well as your expectations for how they will spend money.

It is also important to be realistic about your son or daughter's academic performance, recognizing that not every straight-A student in high school will be a straight-A student in college. Help your son or daughter set reasonable academic goals; and encourage them to seek academic assistance when needed.

The fact that your son or daughter has left home does not necessarily prevent family problems from arising or continuing. Refrain from burdening your son or daughter with problems from home over which they have no control and about which they can do nothing. Sharing these problems with your son or daughter may cause them to worry excessively and even feel guilty that they are away from home and unable to help

Do you need special permission for treatment if my son or daughter is under 18?

Yes, for any session beyond initial assessment or crisis counseling, we will need a parent or guardian's written authorization. We have forms for that purpose which we can give to your son or daughter, or that you may sign during student orientation.