Counseling Services

Counseling Services, we’re here for you

Central Penn College offers FREE counseling services to all students presently enrolled at either the Summerdale campus or Lancaster center, regardless of whether they live on campus or commute, or if they are in a face-to-face or online program. Online students who reside outside of Pennsylvania are unable to receive counseling due to licensing restrictions, but Counseling Services helps connect those student to services in their community.

If you have a life-threatening emergency, contact 911!!

Counseling sessions can be scheduled for in person, or over the phone; your counselor will help you determine which option works best for you. You may seek counseling for a variety of reasons including, but not limited to anxiety, depression, anger issues, grief and loss, substance use, pregnancy, past or present trauma, difficulties with roommates, LGBTQIAA concerns, difficulties making academic progress, or family concerns. Couples and family counseling also may be recommended and can be provided in working with counseling staff. 

Counseling is confidential. Sessions and documentation are confidential. No information of any kind is given to anyone outside of the counseling staff unless you specifically request it in writing. There are limitations to confidentiality in order to protect the welfare of self and others as detailed in the confidentiality policy. Please review the confidentiality statement to understand your rights and limitations to the confidentiality.

Counseling is empowering. The goal of counseling is for you to recognize that you have the strengths within you to be able to conquer or manage the concern. The counselor will help you identify your strengths, define a plan to address the presenting concern, and build skills.

Counseling is connecting.  Part of counseling is trying new skills in the community around you. Counseling connects you to your community whether it is to continue counseling with an outside agency, to plug you into a community service organization, to connect you with a campus club or to recommend a new activity.

Counseling is embracing. The focus of counseling is maintaining an atmosphere of openness, respect and trust. Diversity is accepted and acceptance promoted. See the inclusion statement for more information.

Central Penn allocates a maximum of eleven (11) 45-60 minute long sessions for each student per term as stated in the business policy. Specific policies regarding counseling services are clarified in the counseling disclaimer. Please review both.

If long-term counseling is needed, the counselor will refer you to an outside agency. There are both local resources and self-help resources available.

Central Penn’s Counseling Center Staff

Tom Palmieri

Tom Palmieri, MS, NCC, LBS, LPC has been the Director of Counseling Services since July 2018. Tom has a bachelor’s degree in sociology, with minors in psychology and gender studies, from St. Joseph’s University in Philadelphia and a master’s degree in college counseling from Shippensburg University.

Tom is credentialed as a Nationally Certified Counselor (NCC) and hold licenses as a Licensed Behavior Specialist (LBS) and a Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC) in Pennsylvania. He is a member of the American Counseling Association and the American College Counseling Association and practices under their ethical guidelines.

Tom has worked with people as young as 4 and as old as 70 on managing symptoms related to anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, autism spectrum disorder, past/present trauma, being a survivor of abuse, LGBTQIAA concerns, grief and loss, anger and physical aggression, chronic health issues, wellness and weight management, self-harming behaviors, relationship difficulties, spirituality concerns, and recovery from substance abuse and dependence. Tom also has a background in providing couples, family, and parental counseling and has facilitated various forms of group counseling.

Graduate Level Interns

Graduate students working towards completion of a master’s degree in a counseling related field may provide counseling services as an intern under the clinical supervision of Counseling Services staff.  Students will be notified that they will be working with an intern when their first session is scheduled.

Counseling Services Business Policy

Central Penn College respects the need for individuals to have access to support services. The college offers counseling services to all students presently enrolled. Enrollment includes taking classes at the Summerdale or Lancaster locations, taking classes online, and/or completing an internship during a given term. Counseling Services will assist online students living OUTSIDE Pennsylvania procure services in their community as licensure restrictions preclude them from counseling through Central Penn College while living in another state. The college will assume payment for these services under most circumstances. Each student is eligible to receive up to 11 full-length sessions (45-60 minutes) per term, which translates to one session per week of every 11-week term. Sessions may occur in person and/or over the phone during scheduled sessions. Counseling Services has the discretionary power to provide addition sessions per term or during the breaks between terms, although the student MUST be enrolled in the following term to receive services during a break. Students will be referred to outside counseling resources if Counseling Services is unable to provide the appropriate level of care. Please contact Counseling Services at 717-728-2416 with any questions or concerns.

Community Resource List

Crisis Intervention

Drug/Alcohol Counseling

  • Alanon 717-257-1033
  • Alcoholics Anonymous 717-234-5390
  • Gaudenzia House of Harrisburg 717-238-7455
  • New Insights 717-303-2035
  • Narcotics Anonymous 717-848-9900
  • White Deer Run 717-221-8712

Rape/Dating Violence Counseling

  • Domestic Violence Services 800-852-2102
  • Pennsylvania Coalition Against Domestic Violence Legal 717-671-4767
  • Pennsylvania Coalition Against Rape 717-728-9740
  • YWCA Rape Crisis Services 717-238-7273

Birth Control/Pregnancy Organizations

  • Birth Right of Carlisle 717-243-1918
  • Capital Area Pregnancy Center – free pregnancy testing and counseling 717-761-4411 or 717-241-5510
  • Catholic Charities 717-233-7978
  • Planned Parenthood -birth control, pregnancy testing 717-234-2479 or 717-243-3024
  • Womancare 717-782-2140

Sexually Transmitted Diseases Information

  • Commonwealth of Pennsylvania Bureau of HIV AIDS 717-783-0479

Suicide Prevention Information

  • CONTACT HELPLINE – phone counseling, referral 717-652-4987
  • Crisis Intervention 717-763-2222
  • Diakon Self Help Support Group 717-795-0330
  • Four Points 717-561-2800
  • ULifeline: Ulifeline.org

Counseling and Support Services

  • Catholic Charities, Capital Area 717-233-7978
  • Holy Spirit Behavioral Health Services 717-763-2219
  • Tressler Lutheran Services 717-545-5011
  • YWCA of Greater Harrisburg 717-234-7931

Additional Counseling Services Resources

Abuse

Addiction & Recovery

Depression & Suicide

Eating Disorders

Inclusion Statement

I am a counselor who ethically abides by five core principles designated under the American Counseling Association

  • Autonomy: A person’s right to freely decide on their choices and actions.
  • Justice: Treating people in proportion to their relevant differences.
  • Beneficence: Doing good for others, being proactive, and preventing harm when possible.
  • Nonmaleficence: Not causing harm, regardless of intention, to others.
  • Fidelity: Loyally and faithfully honoring one’s commitments and being honest when unable to do so.

I will never assume to be the expert on your life and my goal is to support you in achieving your goals. I will monitor the conversation in groups for intentional and unintentional discrimination due to race, color, national origin, ethnicity, sex, age, religious affiliation, sexual orientation, gender identity, disability, or any other characteristic. Disrespect is never tolerated, but it is confronted with the goal of promoting change. 

I am an ally and a member of the LGBTQIAA community. Counseling Services and the counseling relationship is a safe space for all those who self-identify on the LGBTQIAA rainbow and their allies. I am also a first generation American from an immigrant family, and I especially enjoy working with international students and anyone who has a goal of promoting their culture. Counseling Services works very closely with other campus offices on including all students regardless of perceived or inherent differences into the Central Penn College community.

Central Penn College has protocols in place for providing support to students with disabilities. I would strongly encourage you to contact Megan Peterson, the ADA Coordinator, for additional assistance if you are a student with a disability.

I am continually assessing my clinical practice and programming to foster an environment where everyone can be safe, healthy, and happy.  I will ask all clients for feedback over the course of treatment and will send out an anonymous survey at the end of every term.  I will also request feedback from anyone that attends a Counseling Services campus program. Students are also welcome to reach out to me directly at any time with suggestions for programs, campus concerns, or questions about starting treatment.

Confidentiality Statement

Policy Statement: Due to the nature of the counseling relationship, confidentiality and privacy are highly valued. However, there are limitations of confidentiality imposed by regulations.

Counseling services staff regards inquiries and counseling discussions as private and confidential. This scope of confidentiality begins at age 14 for mental health services per Pennsylvania Mental Health Procedures Act. In alignment with HIPAA, state licensure, and professional code of ethics no information of any kind is given to anyone outside of the counseling staff unless it is specifically requested in writing. Counseling Services staff, however, are legally and ethically required to break confidentiality under the following circumstances:

  • Procuring crisis services when a client expresses a plan and intent to take one’s own life
  • Procuring crisis services when a client expresses a plan and intent to take the life of one or more individuals other than the client
  • Reporting knowledge or suspicion of child abuse (any child under age 18) to PA ChildLine
  • Reporting knowledge or suspicion of elder abuse (any adult age 60 or older) to the PA Department of Aging
  • Reporting knowledge or suspicion of abuse of any individual (regardless of age) with a physical and/or intellectual disability to PA Adult Protective Services
  • Providing any requested information by first responders (EMS, Central Penn Public Safety, the Police, etc.) to provide medical treatment when a client experiences a medical emergency while receiving counseling services
  • Responding to a compelling (meaning the counselor is unable to dispute it) request from a court of law
  • Receiving clinical consultation and supervision from another member of the Counseling Services staff to provide a client with ethical and competent care.

HIPAA allows for exception of the release of records rule for the following reasons: training purposes, to defend oneself in legal proceedings brought by the client, to Health and Human Services to investigate or determine the entity’s compliance with the Privacy Rules, to avert a serious and imminent threat to public health or safety; to a health oversight agency for lawful oversight of the originator of the psychotherapy notes; and for the lawful activities of a coroner or medical examiner or as required by law.

A release of information MUST be signed by the student to release information to another person or office at Central Penn College in the case that counseling is mandated, such as in response to a judiciary sanction. The counselor will work with the student on the appropriateness of determining which information to release, although attendance and whether treatment has been completed are the most common.

No one outside counseling services may have access to the student’s records or given information without the student’s written release of information other than the exceptions previously noted. Access to records by counseling services staff is limited to those who have a legitimate need to know. Information solicited by the counselor is for the student’s benefit and treatment as specified by regulating bodies and legislation. The counselor will make all efforts to protect the confidentiality of the student’s written and electronic records and other sensitive information. As a result, Counseling Services will not provide therapeutic intervention over email as confidentiality cannot be guaranteed.  Email will ONLY be used for the purposes of scheduling and attendance, providing information to parties as requested by releases of information, and providing non-clinical information as requested.

A student MUST sign a release of information if he or she desires to have counseling services information released to an external party. This includes, but is not limited to, parents, primary care physicians, probation/parole officers, case managers, or other providers.. Without the release of information, counseling information may not be released outside of stated exceptions above.

Counseling records are available for the student’s review with the counselor. Information conveyed to Counseling Services by someone other than the student is not considered confidential and may be shared by the outside party, although Counseling Services will not acknowledge whether the student is receiving services unless a release of information has been signed or one of the aforementioned exceptions to confidentiality has occurred.. All efforts are made to respect confidentiality in all types of interactions. You may revoke permission for Counseling Services to contact you via phone or email at any time.

FERPA protects students’ academic work. Faculty or staff members may disclose a student concern stemming from academic work completed or class presentation to Counseling Services. FERPA allows for disclosure of personal observations. Counseling Services, however, may not reveal the student’s involvement in counseling to staff or faculty members unless one of the limitations of confidentiality applies or a release of information has been signed.

Students may discuss concerns about confidentiality with Counseling Services staff at any time.

Counseling Services Disclaimer

This form has been prepared to provide you with information regarding services rendered by the Campus Counselor at Central Penn College. You are encouraged to read and understand this material. The counselor will answer any questions you may have on this or any related material.

In order to make progress in treatment, your active participation in counseling services is crucial. This details your rights and responsibilities.

Know your rights

Prompt service

Counseling services makes all attempts to schedule a student within two weeks of initial contact with the office. Walk-in hours may be made available as more immediate needs may arise. At some points in the term, there may be a waiting list due to the limitations of the services.

Counseling process

The counseling process contains three main phases – intake, treatment, and preparation for discharge. At the first session, the counselor will review your history, policies, and procedures for counseling services and decide with you the direction of care. The next session(s) will focus on interventions based on goals established for treatment. These interventions are to be evidenced-based and researched by the counselor. Then the counselor will prepare you for discharge with self-help tools and/or community referrals. 

Limitations of counseling services

The ability to receive counseling at Central Penn College is contingent on enrollment and there are regular breaks built into the college schedule.  Referrals to outside providers will occur if counseling under these circumstances is not considered to be the most ethical and appropriate level of care.

Effect of Counseling 

The positive effects of counseling on overall functioning are well documented and researched, although it is important to understand that processing certain events, thoughts, and feelings can create discomfort and that may cause someone to discontinue counseling.  This is particularly important considering that counseling at Central Penn College occurs while participating in a rigorous academic schedule.  Most people who participate in counseling notice positive benefits by the end of the first month of treatment (4 sessions assuming weekly attendance). Your counselor will work with you on determining if other forms of treatment and support will be more helpful should progress not occur within that timeframe.

COUNSELING STAFF RESPONSIBILITIES

Ethical practice

The counseling staff is held to federal and state regulations and a professional code of ethics. Services are to be rendered in compliance with regulations and ethically.

Respect

The counseling staff believes in respecting the dignity of each person. This respect is demonstrated through keeping appointments, informing you of any change in time necessary, minimizing session interruptions, and giving full attention during sessions. Counseling staff is not often readily available for contact due to sessions. In respect to you, efforts will be made to contact you back within 72 hours. Counseling services’ office hours will be posted each term and are subject to change.

The counselor will participate in the therapeutic relationship with respect towards you and encourage you to educate the counselor on your experience. In group settings, the counselor will monitor the conversation for any intentional and unintentional discrimination towards a person due to race, color, national origin, ethnicity, sex, age, religious orientation, sexual orientation, or disability. Disrespect is never tolerated.

CLIENT RESPONSIBILITIES

Emergencies 

If you are experiencing emotional distress and/or considering harm to self or others, immediately contact Central Penn Public Safety at 717-728-2364. The responding officer will contact counseling staff for mental health concerns after hours and a plan will be formulated to best help you. If it is life-threatening, contact 9-1-1 immediately.

Cessation of treatment

Clients can discontinue counseling as they notice improvement and your counselor will work with you towards that goal.  This is usually done by staggering sessions from weekly, to every other week, to monthly until stopping entirely. Clients are also able to resume treatment later if they are still enrolled at Central Penn College.

Mandated counseling

Students can be mandated by other Central Penn departments to attend counseling. It is the student’s responsibility to contact Counseling Services to begin counseling. The Confidentiality Statement explains how confidentiality applies under those circumstances. Students who are mandated by outside agencies, such as probation/parole, may be referred to community providers after initial intake if it is determined that counseling at Central Penn College is not the appropriate or ethical clinical level of care.

Session Attendance

Counseling sessions are typically 45-60 minutes long. Please arrive promptly to allow benefit of session. If you are going to be late or will be unable to make it, it is your responsibility to contact your counselor via e-mail or phone. At least 24 hours’ notice is required so that any cancelled times can be offered to other students. If you are more than 15 minutes late, your appointment may be rescheduled. If a client cancels with less than 24 hours’ notice and/or “no shows” 3 times within the same term they will be unable to resume counseling for the duration of that term. The client will be eligible to resume counseling in the following term that they are enrolled.

Excuses from class 

Counseling services will not issue students notes or excuses from class. This policy is established because doing so creates an undesirable climate for the counseling staff and disempowers students. It is the student’s responsibility to ensure counseling sessions are scheduled outside of class times. Additionally, the student bears the responsibility to complete assignments and directly communicate with faculty if experiencing an academic issue.

ADA Statement 

For students with a disability, Megan Peterson, ADA Coordinator is the contact for verification of disability and establishment of accommodations. Psychological testing is outside the realm of counseling services at Central Penn. The counseling staff may provide external referrals to qualified individuals for psychological testing.

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