Office of Student Care
Attending college is an exciting time of life-changing experiences. While it can be a time where some of the best memories are made, we also realize there are situations that can be difficult to navigate. Some of the symptoms students commonly experience include:
- Life changes
- Feeling homesick
- Anxiety and stress
- Relationship concerns
- Struggles with self-esteem
- Substance use
- Problems with eating and body image
- Grief and loss
Monday - Friday: 8 am - 5 pm
Student Life | Building 26, Second Floor
ULifeline.org: Self-help information with a Self e-Valuator (online assessment), drug database and mental health library.
Help Guide: General self-help organized by topic.
Psychology Topics and Help Center: Resources from the American Psychological Association.
Make an Appointment
The Office of Student Care is here to support students make the most of their GCU experience. Follow these simple steps to schedule an appointment in our office:
Step 1: Come to our offices in the Student Life building (Building 26, southeast corner of the second floor) to fill out paperwork. Or, click here to fill out your paperwork and bring it with you to make your first appointment.
Step 2: After your paperwork has been completed, a consultation will be scheduled with one of our providers to navigate which of our services best meet your needs.
Benefits of Student Care
The GCU Office of Student Care offers short-term, solution-focused counseling free of charge to traditional campus students.
Your initial visit is a 30-minute confidential conversation with a licensed professional counselor or graduate intern. During the appointment, the therapist will come to a better understanding of your concerns and how the GCU Office of Student Care may be of most help to you. At the end of this first appointment, a plan will be developed which best meets your needs, and may include individual counseling, group counseling or a referral to another professional in the Phoenix area.
Your individual counseling session is a one-on-one conversation between you and a licensed professional counselor or qualified graduate intern that lasts 45 to 55 minutes. This conversation is confidential for the purpose of support, personal growth and skills to help you cope with life's difficulties.
Group counseling is a 45 to 55 minute meeting with peers to discuss common struggles. This group session is facilitated by a licensed professional counselor or qualified graduate intern to offer support and learn new ways of coping.
In certain situations, individuals may require services outside the scope of the Office of Student Care. In these cases a list will be provided of professionals in the Phoenix area.
Individual and Group Counseling Scope of Practice
A short-term counseling model has been incorporated in order to meet the needs of the student body on campus and is provided by licensed mental health professionals and supervised graduate student trainees. As a general rule of practice, students will be seen on a bi-weekly or monthly basis - the specific frequency is determined by the provider of services. Services will be initiated with an initial consultation session with a primary emphasis on group or individual counseling as warranted by the needs of the student. Psychoeducation material will be provided for those students with milder stress management and resiliency needs.
The Office of Student Care services include:
- Crisis intervention, safety intervention and consultation
- Assessing and/or providing counseling for such concerns as anxiety, depression, loneliness, identity issues, mild alcohol/drug abuse, eating concerns, stress management, relationship needs, family stress, loss, homesickness, collegiate transition and phase of life stressors, personal growth and development, spirituality and improving academic performance
- Exploring career options for students who are ambivalent or need guidance with making the best choices for their lives which entails emotional support and guidance as opposed to aptitude assessment which is reserved for formal career counseling
- Supporting students who are recovering from sudden traumatic events such as sexual assault, harassment, stalking and Title IX issues
- Referred-based supports from Student Affairs or the Behavioral Intervention Team for issues including but not limited to, violations of the community standards, danger to self, danger to others and concerning or disruptive behaviors
- Assessing and making appropriate referrals for students who need more intensive therapeutic services with resources in the outside community
Limits to Services:
- Long-term counseling: The Office of Student Care does not provide services for chronic acute psychiatric needs that warrant intensive out-patient concerns and case management
- Legal and health assessments: The Office of Student Care does not provide services for legal compulsory recommendations with a court of law or criminal probation issues. The Office of Student Care does not sanction service animals or disability concerns that need clearance for issues such as medications or surgical needs
- Assessments for employment: The Office of Student Care does not provide assessment services such as suitability for employment for private or governmental bodies (CIA, FBI, military, etc.) or volunteer organizations (Peace Corps, etc.)
- Substance abuse assessments: The Office of Student Care does not provide assessment services for substance abuse
To get the most out of a short-term, solution-focused model, students are encouraged to think about their goals and about how they would like to foster change to better their lives. Students are also encouraged to be willing to engage in the work of therapy. With the support of their provider, students will be assisted in completing their established goals for treatment, which may also entail that the student work on appropriate therapy assignments between sessions.
There may be times when you need immediate help. Suicidal thoughts and actions are common among young adults. While not all suicidal thoughts lead to action, these symptoms should be taken seriously and addressed quickly. If you or a friend is struggling with thoughts of suicide, please use the following crisis resources:
- If you believe you are facing an immediate, life-threatening emergency, call 911 or Public Safety at 602-639-8100.
- If you are experiencing a crisis that is not immediately life-threatening, come to the Office of Student Care and request to see a crisis therapist.
- Crisis therapists are available Monday - Friday, 8 am - 5 pm.
- Outside of these hours, please call Public Safety at 602-639-8100.
- If you would like to utilize community resources, call the La Frontera-Empact Crisis Line at 480-784-1500 or the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 800-273-8255.
- EMPACT - Suicide Prevention Line: 480-736-4950
- Public Safety and these community crisis resources are available to you 24 hours per day, seven days per week.
Get to Know Our Staff
Chase Kerrey, MA, LPC
Chase is a Phoenix native. He has experience working with adults and adolescents suffering from anxiety, depression, mood disorders, addiction and family issues. He is currently pursuing his PhD at GCU and enjoys traveling, playing and watching sports and spending time with his wife and three children.
Kristan Farley, MA, LPC
Kristan is a pastor, teacher and counselor with a passion for the university population, serving at GCU since 2011. She specializes in helping students find tools to cope with stress, conflict, relationship concerns and the painful circumstances of life.
Claire Atenian MA, LAMFT
Claire has experience working with students with anxiety and depression. She also loves working with couples. Claire is a Phoenix native who loves fish tacos, Churn and working with college students.
Sarah Ells, MS, LAMFT
Sarah considers it a privilege to come alongside others in the difficult and joyous times in life. She is passionate about helping others find hope and healing in their journey. Born and raised in Tucson, AZ, Sarah is a huge fan of Arizona sunsets and loves a good bean and cheese burrito.
Christine Pemberton, MA, LPC
Christine has a deep love of relationships and values the times she spends with her family and friends. Christine is passionate about helping her clients achieve a stronger sense of self, reduce anxiety and develop healthy coping skills.
Lauren Dixon, MS, LAC
Lauren has great love for music, laughter and connecting with others on an authentic level. Lauren has had experience in the counseling field working with children, adolescents and adults and is passionate about coming alongside people in their journeys of growth and healing.
Mike Wallace, MA, LPC
Mike is a loving father of two children who loves sports, reading and working with people. He has a passion for learning new things. Mike is a firm believer in meeting clients where they are with their concerns by seeing the person first and their condition second. He has 22 years of counseling experience and has learned a lot from his clients.
Ema Grant, MS, LAC
Ema is passionate about partnering with young adults on their path of healing and restoration. She seeks to be a voice of hope, grace, and truth in the midst of difficult circumstances. Ema also loves curling up on the couch with a good book, a strong cup of coffee, and her four dogs.