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Family Member FAQs

This list is composed of the most Frequently Asked Questions we receive from Family Members who are concerned about the wellbeing of a student attending Trinity College Dublin. If you cannot find the information you are looking for below, please call (01) 8961407 or email student-counselling@tcd.ie

I have concerns about the welfare of my family member. What should I do?

If you are concerned about the welfare of your family member, you should encourage them to avail of support locally or with Student Support Services in College.

The College will do everything possible to help students in difficulty. It does not, however, assume to have parental responsibility and will offer support only if approached by the student, or if the situation is serious and staff become aware that a student may be at risk.

If you believe your family member could benefit from the free and confidential services that we provide at Student Counselling, you should talk to them about it and ask them to check out our website for further information.

College Health and the College Chaplaincy are two other very accessible support services where your family member will find help.

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How does my family member get an appointment?

If you are concerned your family member is upset and may need to talk to someone, they can contact the Counselling Service by calling (01) 8961407 or visiting us on the 3rd floor of 7-9 South Leinster Street. Our services are free of charge to all registered Students of Trinity College.

During term, students who have not used the service before can pop in to the Student Counselling Service over lunch to avail of a Brief Consultation Slot between 1.00 and 2.00pm. This enables them to get advice on what to do going forward and where to find additional support.

Students can also avail of the Peer Mentoring or Student 2 Student service, where a student who is familiar with College and trained in listening and support skills can meet with your family member to chat things out.

If your family member chooses to seek support at Student Counselling, it is confidential. This means that without a release of information agreed/signed by your family member, the service will not be able to reveal information to you about their appointments.

We do however encourage you to keep communication with your family member open and ask them if they have attended or plan to attend Student Counselling.

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Can I talk to a counsellor if I am concerned about my family member?

Staff at the Student Counselling Service are available to talk to concerned parents. But we will not be able to tell you if your family member is attending the Service if you do not already know this. Neither will we be able to divulge information about his/her wellbeing, since confidentiality is so important to our work and ensures students feel safe to speak freely. Usually however, we are able to advise you in general terms about possible courses of action.

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I am concerned that my family member really dislikes their course choice. What should I do?

Lots of students find adjusting to academic work in college a struggle initially. Encourage them to stick with it week by week. If after 6 - 8 weeks they seem very daunted or keen to consider changing, ask them to make contact with their tutor. Every undergrad student at Trinity is assigned a Tutor who can meet, support and tease out options with them. It is better to address problems earlier rather than later so if in doubt, get them to check it out.

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My family member is really struggling academically. What should I do?

Encourage them to seek support. They can meet with their tutor, a member of academic staff from their course, or a member of the Student Learning Development team, who work in close liaison with Student Counselling.

Student Learning Development offer both one to one consultations and group academic workshops throughout the year. Please visit their website at http://student-learning.tcd.ie for further information.

If there are concerns about other challenges such as dyslexia, attention deficit issues or physical / health challenges, Students can also make contact with Support Services such as College Health, the Disability Service and Unilink.

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What should my family member do if something happens, they become ill, have a family crisis or bereavement.

The first thing they should do is communicate by phone or email with their course director informing them they will be unable to attend college due to a personal matter. Encourage them to seek support/care locally or within the college support services. Information on Student Counselling can be found on our website. Other sources of help include College Health and the Students Union Welfare Officer. They may also wish to make contact with their personal tutor.

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I am worried about how my family member is settling in to college life but I don’t want to appear interfering. What can I do?

The key to managing this is to accept that in most cases, students do transition well to college. They settle in to become accomplished, well rounded educated adults with lots of career choices and decisions to make going forward. Be encouraging and supportive to them during their transition.

As a parent you can help by:

  • Asking how they are getting on but avoid interrogation. Gentle open ended questions such as ‘How are things going so far?’ or ‘How are you managing the academic side of things?’ can be good openers (Dont be put off if you don’t hear too much or are told ‘fine’).
  • Reassuring them that it is normal to feel anxious at the start of College life. If they seem sad, upset or irritable, check in with them by just acknowledging ‘you seem quieter is everything ok in college?’ You may be able to support/encourage them to talk to someone in College.
  • Checking the college website so you become familiar with the campus and what supports are there for students.
  • Helping your family member to reduce any unrealistic expectations of themselves, so they don't feel that they have to be such a high achiever that it becomes too stressful.
  • Encouraging them to step back from their situation, which may help them to feel less overwhelmed and to find their own solutions.

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I am worried about my family member living away from home. What should I do?

Make sure you keep in good contact, checking in with them and encouraging them, especially while they are acclimatising to new surroundings.

Technology like e-mail, text, skype and social media makes communication with loved ones who leave home or travel a lot easier.

Be prepared for an odd call when they may be upset or feel they are not settling in and making friends. This will more often than not pass, so try to be reassuring.

If you feel your family member is upset and needs to talk to someone, you should encourage them to avail of the Student Services that are there to help them at college. Ask them to check out the Student Counselling Website.

If you become seriously worried about the welfare of your family member while they are away from home, you may like to consider talking on the telephone to the student's personal tutor or a member of staff in the International Students Office.

If you have serious concerns and your family member is not willing or able to take any action, one option may be for you to visit your family member to help him/her obtain appropriate support. A second option may be to consult a local G.P. for advice.

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I am concerned my family member is making mistakes and not involving me in their life?

College is a rich and diverse place. Students will meet and engage with a variety of people and experiences. They may begin to challenge the old traditional viewpoints and should be encouraged to explore their own views and perceptions even if they differ from yours in some way.

Do raise concerns and express your viewpoint, but keep the lines of communication open in a respectful and open way as much as possible.

The trick for parents is to balance their involvement with their family member enough to help them develop into a confident, autonomous, self-sufficient young adult.

As a parent, it is natural you do not want your family member to make mistakes. However many of us do sometimes make mistakes and learn something through this.

To assist in finding the right parental balance, take an interest in what your family member is doing, while allowing some space for them to try out new things and stand on their own two feet.

If they ask for your advice, explore what their thoughts and ideas are about a subject and move towards a joint collaborative view, encouraging their decision making skills.

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My family member can get really stressed at exam time. Is there anything I can do to help?

Parents can encourage students to take a balanced approach to revision, taking short breaks and some exercise. Even a short walk in the middle of a study session can be helpful in managing stress. Students often fall into the trap of thinking they have ‘no time’ for breaks leaving them tired and exhausted and less well able to perform.

Offer reassurance and practical help such as a cup of tea if they are at home, and expect they may be tired and irritable at times. Just give them as much support as they need. Suggest they make contact with the Student Learning Development team if they are struggling with study/revision skills.

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My family member has had some problems with mental health issues and/or gets panic attacks from time to time?

Many college students experience a range of mental health and stress related problems such as panic attacks. The support services in college are experienced in helping students that have such challenges. Encourage your Son/Daughter to consult the Student Counselling Service website for more information.

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My family member has concerns that counselling might not be suitable for them.  How can I persuade them to attend the service?

It’s common to feel a little nervous when considering seeking support.  It may help if you can remind your family member that SCS strives to provide a confidential, supportive and non-judgmental service, and show them our inclusivity statement on our home page http://www.tcd.ie/Student_Counselling/
The SCS meets students from a whole range of backgrounds and experiences, who attend the service for many diverse reasons which may include: stress, anxiety, depression, relationship problems, family difficulties, bereavement, homesickness, loneliness, lack of motivation, assault, abuse, loneliness, bullying, financial concerns, personal, gender, or sexual identity, panic, unplanned pregnancy, eating disorders, alcohol, drugs and academic concerns.

For more information on our services and how your family member can access support (including drop-in brief consultations, where no appointment is necessary) see the Considering Counselling? section of our website here: http://www.tcd.ie/Student_Counselling/counselling/considering/

Last updated 22 December 2015 student-counselling@tcd.ie.