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Parents & Loved Ones

The Important Role of Parents and Loved Ones

CAPS promotes the well-being of the diverse campus community by balancing high-quality mental health services and clinical training with accessibility to foster student success through self-discovery, learning, and interpersonal engagement. Parents and loved ones play an important role in helping us achieve this mission, as they often first notice changes in their student’s behavior or attitudes that may indicate a problem. Please talk with your student about these changes and discuss how CAPS can be a helpful resource.

Necessary steps a parent can take to foster student success at UH

Before They Start

  • Have an honest conversation about what your expectations are and have your student identify his/her goals and expectations for each semester. These days, University is a big financial commitment for any family; make it worth it! Having clear expectations and goals can help your student stay motivated.
  • Encourage your student to get involved in student organizations, recreational sports, and campus events that will promote alcohol-free activities. Being connected to activities on campus increases a student’s success!
  • If at all possible, come to campus during Family Weekend. This is a great opportunity to see your student’s classrooms, where they hang out on campus, meet friends and embrace the Cougar culture at the University of Houston.

During the Semester

  • Whether it is a phone call, text message or skype, contact your student often and show you’re interested in their success. It is best to decide how you will stay in contact ahead of time and expect your student might be stressed or moody – there are many new experiences they are adjusting to! Try not to jump to their rescue as they need to figure some of this out alone. Unsure when it is time to step in for help? For a list of warning signs that your student needs additional help, visit Helping Students of Concern.
  • Find out what classes your student is taking, and ask about each one. Ask questions about what they are learning, what they like about the class and what they do not like.
  • Encourage your student goes to class. Going to class is strongly associated with success. Have a late sleeper? Suggest taking later classes so there is no excuse that your student overslept.
  • Remember the first semester of college can be the most stressful. Check-in and see how your student is adjusting to college life and relieving stress. If they say they don’t feel stressed at all – ask why not. Remember to check back in throughout the year. Adjustment does not only occur in the first few weeks of college. There will many adjustments throughout their academic career, including balancing work and school, starting internships, getting new room-mates and changes in relationships.
  • Make sure your student knows that you’re interested in their grades and their success. Ask your student to share his/her grades and how they feel about his/her grades.
  • Talk about finances throughout the semester. Is he/she spending all the financial aid within the first few weeks? Credit card companies may target college students, and too many students feel stress because of financial responsibilities. Getting a credit card can be a great escape from immediate financial stress, and few students understand all the fine print involved. Make sure your student doesn’t get deeper in to debt because of credit cards.

My student is in college. What do I do now?

Whether this is your first student in college or you have been down this road before, a student leaving the nest can always present challenges for a family or loved one. The following are some suggestions to help both you and your student transition to the University of Houston.

  • Be a coach. Provide support and encouragement, for both the difficulties and successes.
  • Allow for mistakes. It can be extremely hard to stand back and watch your student struggle but know what they need help with and what they need to figure out alone. Stand back with academics, homework, developmental changes. Intervene with legal problems, significant financial commitments and signs of alcohol or illegal drug use.
  • Plan ways to stay in contact. You might expect a call every day, but your student wants to text you once per week. To sidestep disappointment, plan ahead the type of communication and how often you will contact each other.
  • Keep your student informed of changes at home. Did you decide to renovate the kitchen? Let your student know! Your student will still feel like part of the family and there will be no surprises when s/he comes home.
  • Most of all, take advantage of your student's independence. This is a great time for you to revisit or discover new hobbies.

My student is in college, but still living at home. Does anything change?

College students living at home can present some new variables within a household. This is not the 13th grade of high school, so expect a shift in the family dynamic.

  • Talk about his/her expectations of college and help your student recognize that although s/he is at home it still a big change.
  • Help s/he understand that letting go may be slower than if s/he were living on campus.
  • Discuss how the rules of the home may be different now/or the same.
  • Encourage involvement on campus. Living at home can make connecting to a college campus more difficult. By joining a student organization or working on campus, students can feel engaged which increases student success.

CAPS Services

CAPS offers individual, couples, and group psychotherapy, crisis intervention, preventative and developmental outreach programming and services, consultation, training, and supervision. CAPS staff is available to all students, faculty, and staff seeking assistance. CAPS staff consists of licensed psychologists, doctoral and masters level mental health professionals and advanced graduate trainees in counseling and clinical psychology. Our staff offers a wide variety of clinical interests and expertise. Psychology ethics and state law require that these services be confidential except under unusual, well-defined circumstances. Students must be currently enrolled at the University of Houston in order to receive services at CAPS.

CAPS is located on the UH campus and on the UH at Sugar Land Instructional Site


In order to ensure a safe environment for students to explore their personal concerns, all counseling services are confidential. This means that our staff will not reveal the identity of students who seek our services, will not confirm or deny a student's participation in counseling, and will not provide any details about what has been discussed in counseling without the student's written consent. We do not give information to parents, loved ones or other offices or departments within the university without a student's written consent. Students may request to have information shared with the person(s) of their choice and can sign a release granting us permission to share confidential counseling information.

Crisis Information

If you are experiencing a crisis situation and need to speak with someone immediately, please contact CAPS at 713.743.5454 and you will be connected to the consultant on duty. If it is after business hours and you are in imminent crisis, please call 911 or CAPS at 713.743.5454 and you will be connected to the after-hours counselor.

How to Discuss CAPS Services with your student

Seeking CAPS services is a personal choice and at times students are either unaware of the counseling process or associate stigma with seeking the help of a therapist. If your student is reluctant to seek services, here are a few ways to help your student familiarize themselves with CAPS services and ultimately seek services at CAPS.

  • As a parent or loved one, it is important for you to become familiar with CAPS by browsing our website to review services, staff, resources, and programs so that you can share information with students. If you are confident and familiar with our services, your student will feel assured that you are sending them to the right place.
  • Reassure your student that counseling services are available for anyone needing assistance in coping with and resolving emotional and/or interpersonal concerns.
  • Inform your student that initial appointments are free and available by walk-in. This is an opportunity to share their concerns and to hear how CAPS can help.
  • Remind your student that any information shared during counseling sessions is confidential and will not be disclosed to anyone without her/his written permission. Not even you!
  • Acknowledge, validate, and discuss the student's real concerns about seeking therapy. Some students may feel that counseling is an admission of weakness or failure; it takes courage to admit the desire or need for help. Even if you don’t understand their concern or you think it is not a big deal.
  • With your student, browse our web site as a way to become familiar with the services we offer. It can be helpful for you to become familiar with the website before exploring it with your student.
  • If your student is reluctant to start at CAPS, suggest the "Let’s Talk" Program. CAPS therapists hold walk-in hours at sites around campus during the week. There is no appointment or fee necessary.
  • Consult with CAPS staff by calling and asking to speak to a staff therapist about any questions or concerns that you have about CAPS services.

Information Resources for Parents

  • What Parents Need to Know About College Drinking
  • Parent & Family Programs
  • College Parents of America
  • The College of the Overwhelmed: The Campus Mental Health Crisis and What to Do About It by Richard Kadison and Theresa Foy DiGeronimo
  • Don't Tell Me What To Do, Just Send Money by Helen E. Johnson and Christine Schelhas-Miller
  • Empty Nest ... Full Heart: The Journey from Home to College by Andrea Van Steenhouse
  • The Launching Years: Strategies for Parenting from Senior to College Life by Laura Kastner and Jennifer Fugett Wyatt
  • Letting Go: A Parents' Guide to Understanding the College Years, Third Edition by Karen Levin Coburn and Madge Lawrence Treeger
  • How To Survive And Thrive In An Empty Nest: Reclaiming Your Life When Your Children Have Grown by Robert H. Lauer, 1999
  • When Your Kid Goes To College: A Parent’s Survival Guide by Carol Barkin, 1999
  • Almost Grown: Launching Your Child From High School To College by Patrick Pasick, 1998