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For Parents


Welcome to the Utah State University Counseling and Psychological Services Parents web page. Our goal is to provide you with information about issues, concerns and other important information that will assist you in supporting our son or daughter while they are a student at Utah State University (USU).

Counseling and Psychological Services at Utah State University is part of the Division of Student Services. We offer a variety of services including personal counseling, crisis intervention, support and therapy groups, consultation services, and educational outreach programs to students and other members of the university community. Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) is accredited by the International Association of Counseling Services, Inc.


At USU CAPS we embrace a holistic approach to student development by removing psychological, emotional and behavioral barriers to learning and success, enhancing the university experience for students and promoting a healthy environment on campus and preparing students to be self-reliant contributors in the world.

Professional Staff

Our professional staff consists of 11 licensed psychologists, 4 doctoral interns, 2 doctoral graduate assistants and up to 4 doctoral graduate practicum therapists-in-training. The staff is comprised of people from diverse backgrounds, disciplines, theoretical orientations, and approaches to counseling.


Eligibility for our services extends to USU students currently enrolled in 6 or more credits on the Logan campus. Spouses or currently enrolled students may also be seen in couples counseling. All counseling services are free of charge.


As a parent, it is completely understandable that you would want to know specifics about the therapeutic content and/or services your student might be participating in at CAPS. However, confidentiality in the mental health arena is professionally and legally complex issue.

Treating information confidentially means not releasing it to anyone outside of CAPS without written consent, including parents. Our staff keenly recognize this may be difficult for some parents; however, we are legally and ethically required to maintain these standards of confidentiality.

Often, the best source of information for parents about the counseling process is the student themselves. We encourage you to talk to your student about your concerns. What may also be helpful to know is that in some instances, students are interested in signing a release of information form that would allow the therapist to discuss their situation or concerns with their parents. However, for any number of personal reasons, some students will not be interested in signing a release of information. In these cases, as difficult as it might be for parents to accept, the main exceptions to breaking confidentiality arise only if the student is in danger to self or others, in situations involving child or adult abuse or neglect, court orders or the subpoena of records by the court.

Psychoeducational Assessment

CAPS conducts psychoeducational assessments in conjunction with the Disability Resource Center (DRC). Students who believe they may need such an assessment should contact the DRC at 435-797-2444. The DRC is located in room 101 of the University Inn. The DRC charges a nominal fee for the extensive assessment. The basement will be conducted in CAPS.

Changes You Might Expect in Your College Student

Most parents report the experience of sending a son or daughter to college as one filled with anticipation, anxiety, confusion, and hope. By opening day of the freshman year, many changes have already begun to happen: The student becomes more independent, gains competence in new areas and learns to develop healthy peer relationships. The college years are a time for a student to continue maturing and learning how to manage oneself and life in general. What does that mean for you as a parent? Here are some of the messages you may hear:

"Help!"/"Don't help!" it is sometimes frustrating for parents to go through the growth process with their students, not knowing how to be helpful and receiving messages which are unclear or incomplete. Students may add to the uncertainty by changing rapidly-rejecting your help on Tuesday and actively seeking it on Wednesday. We've often heard about parents in great distress because their student predicted a poor outcome on an exam, but forgot to provide an update when the results were better than expected.

As a parent, it can be difficult to know when to help, when to step back, and/or how worried to get. Usually a parent's best guideline is to provide a steady, supportive home base while recognizing there will be ups and downs in a students' needs and expectations. Try to follow the leads of the student and encourage them to work through a problem with you acting as the coach or cheerleader. Help them balance their thoughts and emotions to make their best decisions. Let them know you respect their right to make decisions and you will serve as an advisor when asked. Remind yourself to notice and appreciate their new skills as they develop; students often want their families to recognize their progress toward becoming adults.

"So whose decision is it anyway?" Most parents have a high investment in their student's decisions. Problems arise, however, when parents are more invested than students. It can be hard to lessen involvement in a student's decisions out of fear the student won't assume responsibility. The irony is that students often don't step up to the task of being responsible until parents' step back.

Taking a step back as a parent can be uncomfortable, because there is no guarantee the student will assume responsibility or will make the same decision as you would. You don't have to walk away disinterested-consider providing a concerned voice and remind yourself you are helping by working with your student on developing his or her own decision-making skills.

"College is different than I thought it would be." For many students, their early college experience involves learning that academic expectations are more rigorous than in high school. They may have to work much harder to earn top grades in college, and the study skills they used in high school are not adequate for high academic achievement in college. Coming face-to-face with new challenges is common in college. Finding support in dealing with these challenges is equally important. The university has many resources to address students' needs. Parents can remind students that asking questions and using available resources reflects maturity. At the same time, parents and other family members can serve key roles in providing the support needed. Students tell us that it is important to know their parents will offer consistent support as they venture out to meet the world.

Common Signs of Distress

Students who are under distress often show outward signs. Here are some common symptoms of distress that may indicate a recommendation for counseling. If you are concerned your student is exhibiting One or more of these symptoms, talk to them about your concerns and recommend they speak with a professional at CAPS.

  • Significant changes in personal relationships, such as death of a family member or friend, divorce or separation, pregnancy, or abuse.
  • Significant changes in mood or behavior, such as withdrawal from others, asocial activity, spells of unexplained crying or outbursts of anger, or unusual agitation.
  • Increased irritability.
  • Uncharacteristic changes in academic behavior such as missing classes and tests.
  • Loss of motivation; lack of enjoyment in activities that were once enjoyable.
  • References to suicide or expression of intent to harm self or others.
  • Anxiety and depression.
  • Alcohol and drug abuse.
  • Eating and body image concerns.
  • Career choice concerns
  • Concern about academics.

Common Questions and Answers

My daughter/son is a first-year student at USU and already diagnosed with depression and needs medication monitoring. Where do they go?
Your Student can request an appointment with a counselor at CAPS to discuss referral sources for ongoing psychiatric support and medication monitoring. Appropriate referrals will be suggested given a variety of factors, i.e. insurance plans, financial needs, etc. It is important that your student does not run out of medication prior to being evaluated by a psychiatrist. We often recommend students participate in individual counseling while taking medication as well.

What can I do if I suspect my daughter/son could benefit from professional help and support?
We recommend you express your reasons for concern in a straightforward and supportive way. It might be helpful to say something line "I am worried about you. you just don't seem to be yourself lately. Have you thought about going to talk to someone about your concerns? I think it would be really good for you to talk with an objective person who can help you sort out whatever is bothering you. Will you make an appointment at the University Counseling and Psychological Services?"

Does CAPS provide walk-in services?
Generally, you will schedule an appointment to be seen. However, we reserve a few appointments daily for emergency/crisis consultation. If a student is dealing with an urgent situation or crisis during regular business hours, they can come into or call (435-797-1012) the office and request to be seen by a counselor as soon as possible.
For emergency help during evening or weekend hours, students should call Campus Police: 435-797-1939

If I have concerns about my student, can I talk to a counselor in CAPS?
Yes, you can call CAPS during regular business hours and request to speak with a counselor regarding our concerns about your daughter/son. However, if your student is a client of CAPS, please remember that a counselor can only talk with in general terms without the student's written consent.

How does my daughter/son make an appointment at CAPS?
How to Make an Appointment