OSSM students will be able to resolve most of the difficulties our students experience at school by utilizing their current support system. However, there may be times when academic, social and emotional challenges interfere with their overall well-being. These issues may include: homesickness, anxiety, depression, inability to concentrate, family crises, stress, relationship difficulties, low self-esteem, unhealthy coping mechanisms or self-destructive behaviors. Many students just need to talk and frequently seek out our counselor without having any “identified problem.” In other words, it is okay just to talk with the personal counselor to get another perspective, talk about ideas, or simply build a relationship with another adult in our learning community.
The counselor provides mainly crisis intervention, consultation and individual counseling on a short-term basis. The OSSM counselor cannot be used for ongoing individual or family therapy since their time is divided among 150 students. If extended treatment is needed, a referral to an off-campus counselor will be made.
The OSSM counselor is available to talk to you about anything that is on your mind. We help students who are struggling with academics, problems at home, problems in relationships, feelings of depression or anxiety, or anything that you may want to discuss with another person.
We understand that OSSM students can be very independent people who often pride themselves on finding solutions to their own problems. A lot of students will talk to each other before seeking out a trusted adult or mental health professional. This informal helping network is an extremely important part of the residential life experience at OSSM, and we encourage our students to take full advantage of peer and adult relationships. Often times, the decision to see their counselor is made during a crisis situation or after an extended period of emotional pain, problems or confusion. This can be a humbling experience in which students sometimes feel embarrassed that they need help from an outside source. More often than not, mental health is a decision that is enhanced by admitting a need for assistance. The process of counseling is designed to meet that need.
Seeing the counselor for emotional/psychological reasons is a personal decision. Some students come to the counselor for a few meetings to help clarify their thinking, check in about specific issues in their lives, or just talk with someone who is willing to listen. Other students come in for one session just to see if talking about the issue or concern will help or to get a second opinion separate from their other resources. Sometimes they come in with a friend and sometimes a friend brings them in. Students often seek out the counselor when issues or concerns affect them personally or academically. A good rule of thumb is if you are thinking about talking with someone or another person suggests you talk to someone, then it is time to see a counselor. When the usual ways of handling a situation no longer seem productive, you feel like you’re in a vicious cycle, or things are just not getting better, then it is time to talk. Talking about a situation before it turns into a major crisis is a great way to enhance self-esteem and build effective coping mechanisms. It also makes you feel better!
The OSSM counselor is available to meet with you between 8 am and 5 pm, Monday through Friday. For after-hour issues that may arise, please contact the Resident Advisor who is on duty and they will contact the counselor. If students feel they need to see a counselor right away or are experiencing an “emergency situation” they may email the counselor at or call her at (405)410-6404 any time .
At other times, a concerned Resident Advisor, staff member, or parent may contact the counselor and ask that the student be seen. If you feel your student is struggling with any issue feel free to contact the counselor by phone or email.
Under most circumstances, the information a student shares with the counselor is confidential. The dates and times of counseling appointments and/or counseling session notes are not kept in the student’s school file or any documents that are sent to colleges. If any information is to be disclosed to a source outside of OSSM like a doctor or therapist, the student and parents must sign an authorization to release information form.
The need-to-know rule (FERPA) requires school counselors to reveal sensitive information only when the recipient of the information has a need to know and is in a position to benefit the student if they have the shared information. Without the assurance of confidentiality, many students would not seek our help. Breaching student confidentiality with teachers, parents and administrators requires continuously balancing the rights of students and parents against the criteria of need to know.
There are exceptions to confidentiality. If students are suspected of being a danger to themselves or others, the counselor will need to break confidentiality and reveal enough information to resolve the crisis and/or support the student’s needs. In addition, the counselor at OSSM is a state mandated reporter of suspected child abuse or neglect. If students are unsure if what they or a friend is thinking or experiencing will be kept confidential, they should feel free to ask the counselor before disclosing the information.
The OSSM counselor will contact a student’s parents if we are concerned for that student’s safety. If this needs to happen, we will let the student know first and will explain the process. Usually this comes up if a student is having suicidal thoughts or has engaged in behavior that the counselor has deemed to be unsafe. The OSSM counselor may call parents to recommend outside services be put in place or, in the case of an emergency situation, we will have the student’s parents take them to have an immediate evaluation to ensure the student will receive the proper level of care to keep him or her safe. Otherwise, what is shared with OSSM counselors is kept confidential.
Transportation is not provided to therapy appointments. The students are responsible for their own transportation. The parent needs to notify the counselor at least 24 hours in advance of the date and time of the appointment to notify the school that they student will be leaving campus with the parent. The counselor will then put the student on the excused list.
OSSM cares about the well being of every student. We work together as a team to determine the best way to serve the needs of each individual student. If you have any concerns or questions, contact the counselor by email or by phone at (405)410-6404.