Counseling Program and Services
The Hill School Counseling team is committed to promoting the psychological health and well-being of the Hill community through counseling, consultation, and crisis intervention. Our goal is to help our students enhance their inherent sources of strength and resilience, overcome obstacles big and small, and move towards living lives that are rich in meaning and in tune with deeply held values. We encourage you to utilize this site to find answers to your questions about our services and to make use of the tools we offer which support healthy habits.
Welcome from the Counseling Team!
- What is Counseling?
- Prevention Education Programming
- Frequently Asked Questions for Students
- I-Care and Counseling
- Student and Parent Resources
- Eudemonia and Eudemonia Health+
What is counseling?
Thank you for choosing counseling at The Hill School! If you have any further questions or concerns after reading this, please do not hesitate to ask!
All Hill School Clinicians have professional licenses or are working towards licensure under supervision. Our School Clinicians are highly trained and experienced in the field and will do the best possible job to address your concerns and to work together with you to address needs. In counseling, you will work with a School Clinician to build skills and insight and find solutions to
problems through conversation and practice. What exactly happens in any given session will depend on your goals, how you present any problem(s), your comfort with communication, your current life circumstances, and the general approach you’ve agreed to with your counselor.
Benefits and Risks
Counseling can include discussion of challenging or previously undisclosed aspects of life and may therefore be uncomfortable at times. On the other hand, counseling has demonstrable benefits in leading to better relationships, solving specific problems, and reducing feelings of distress. The goal of counseling is to make a positive impact in the lives of the students who take
part. At the same time, anyone who believes that counseling is not working may discontinue at any point or may request a change in the School Clinician that is working with the individual. We will do our best to accommodate any requests to change Clinicians.
Checking In/Out for Appointments
Check in with Ms. Gracie before all counseling appointments. She will let your counselor know you are here. Once finished with your appointment, she will also give you a pass back to class if needed. All passes indicate you are at the Wellness Center, it does not specify counseling.
The Counseling Process
Typically, the first session is a screening session that allows you a place to talk about what is going on and if you think counseling would be helpful. If you choose to move forward with counseling, the next session will include an evaluation of your needs. Our assessment process screens for anxiety, depression, eating issues, substance related issues, internet addiction concerns, trauma/abuse history, and school/academic challenges. By the end of this assessment, we will be able to offer you some first impressions of your situation as well as a rough outline of a plan for us to follow moving forward should you decide to continue with counseling.
Your School Clinician will schedule sessions Monday through Friday, 8:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m., and sessions are typically 45 minutes to an hour long. We ask that you do your best to provide at least 24 hours notice if you need to cancel an appointment (though we also understand that that is not always possible). School Clinicians are not able to provide services in the summer months when school is not in sessions.
The cost of all counseling sessions at The Hill School is fully covered by tuition and fees. We do not bill insurance. If we refer you to outside services for further assessment or specialized services, this will be a cost to you.
Each year, all Hill School parents/guardians with sole or joint legal custody provide Health Services with consent permitting their children to access Counseling Center services through the Wellness Center paperwork. We also seek to obtain each student’s informed verbal consent (a) by encouraging you to read this document prior to consenting to counseling; and (b) by discussing the limits of confidentiality and other related topics in your first session.
Occasionally disagreement arises among parent(s)/guardian(s) and the school clinician regarding the child’s treatment. If such disagreements occur, our school clinicians will strive to listen carefully so that we can understand all parties’ perspectives, and we will do our best to fully explain our own perspective as well. Whether we can resolve such disagreements, or we can agree to disagree, our utmost priority will always be the student’s progress in counseling. If a parent/guardian believes that the counseling of a student should end, we will honor that decision, in the absence of extraordinary circumstances In most cases, we will ask that parents/guardians allow us to have a few closing sessions with a child to end the treatment relationship appropriately.
Although we always strive for consent and transparency with parents, we also will need to adhere to Pennsylvania law, which allows a child who has attained the age of 14 and is able to give informed consent to enter and/or remain in counseling without parental awareness or consent. (PA ACT 147)
If a parent or guardian contacts the Counseling Center, we will acknowledge whether their child is being seen by a School Clinician. We may also describe how the student is doing in general terms, but the specific details and content of the counseling conversations will be kept private (unless disclosure is specifically agreed upon by the student). This includes counselors' knowledge of activities and behaviors that may upset, or may not meet with the approval of, a parent or guardian, but that do not put the student at risk of serious or immediate harm.
However, if we determine that a student’s behavior is putting their own or others’ well-being at significant risk or is substantially impacting their functioning, then we will communicate this information to parents/guardians and make every effort to incorporate the student’s involvement in this disclosure.
The Hill School Counseling Center believes strongly that confidentiality is critical to providing good treatment. To engage in counseling, individuals need to share thoughts, feelings, and experiences without worrying that such information will be shared with others. For this reason, we do our absolute best to safeguard the privacy of the students we meet with.
If a dean, adviser, or other concerned faculty member asks us whether or not a student is being seen by a School Clinician, we will acknowledge the student’s status if we determine that faculty member has a need to know, while ensuring that all specific health-related information about the student will be kept confidential.
Additionally, the School Clinicians work closely with Wellness Center staff, including the Medical Director, Nurse Practitioner, and Nurses, and will occasionally exchange information about students on a need-to-know basis for the sake of providing appropriate and comprehensive medical care. In all instances like this, the School Clinician will make every effort to inform the student.
Students Receiving ICARE Services
Students receiving counseling services through The Hill School Counseling Center for ICARE are required by the School to sign a release of information that allows the Counseling team to report if the student has completed the recommendations from the assessment process. No other information is given, other than completion or non-completion of counseling requirements.
Exceptions to Confidentiality:
If a student’s functioning or the student’s or others’ well-being may be compromised, a counselor may decide that a parent/guardian needs to be informed. This is not a decision to be made lightly, and in such instances, we will do everything within our power to notify the student in advance and to work with the student on how best to approach the situation.
Confidentiality/privacy cannot be maintained, and we must make an immediate disclosure without discussion with the student, in the following circumstances:
1. A student reveals a plan to cause serious harm or death to the student himself/herself, and we believe that the student has the intent and ability to carry out this threat within a proximate time frame. In this instance we are required by law to take steps to inform a parent or guardian as well as individuals at The Hill School with a need to know of what the student has told us and how serious we believe this threat to be and to try to prevent the occurrence of such harm.
2. A student reveals a credible plan to cause serious harm or death to someone else, and we believe that the student has the intent and ability to carry out this threat in the very near future. In this situation, we are required by law to inform a parent or guardian and individuals at The Hill School with a need to know. We are also required to inform the police and potentially the person who is the target of the threatened harm.
3. A student is actively engaging in behaviors that could cause serious harm to the student or someone else, even if the student does not intend to harm themselves or another person. In these situations, we will consult as a team of health providers in order to use our professional judgment to determine whether a parent or guardian and/or individuals at The Hill School with a need to know must be informed.
4. It is revealed or apparent that a child is being neglected or abused – physically, sexually or emotionally – or has been neglected or abused in the past. We are required by law to report the alleged abuse to the appropriate state child-protective agency.
5. If a student reveals that they have been a victim of sexual assault, we are required by law to report that information to authorities (Pennsylvania Child-Line) and the Dean of Students.
6. We are ordered by a court to disclose information.
If you have concerns about the limits of confidentiality, you can always ask your School Clinician about types of information we would need to disclose. You could ask in the form of “hypothetical situations,” such as: “If someone told you that he or she were doing , would you tell the parents?”
Getting in Contact with Your Counselor
Email is typically the best way to contact your School Clinician; our commitment is for a Counselor to reach out within 48 hours of receiving the email. To schedule a first appointment, you can either reach out to a specific counselor directly or email email@example.com.
In Cases of Emergency
If you are experiencing a mental health emergency (meaning you are not feeling safe) , please DO NOT use email to relay your situation; instead, please contact Hill Security at 610-327-3060, or walk directly to the Wellness Center and speak with a nurse. We have School Clinicians on call 24/7 for emergencies.
For more information on Counselors and counseling services, please visit our website at https://www.thehill.org/families/counseling-program.
To reiterate, we know counseling at The Hill School can be a valuable resource that is accessed by many students during their time at Hill. We hope that this document has helped to provide some basic information about counseling, and we look forward to following up with you in person as needed!
Prevention Education at the Hill School
Mr. Jones is The Hill School’s Prevention Education Specialist. He has a Certification in Applied Positive Psychology (CAPP) and is a Certified Open Focus and NeuroSynchrony Coach. The Hill School's Counseling Program offers prevention education across several settings. Students in all forms will receive evidence-based, age-appropriate lessons that help them develop the skills that focus on drug/alcohol use prevention, overall well-being, mental health, and social responsibility.
Prevention Education Programming
Mr. Jones works with performers at The Hill School in group setting to deliver mindfulness practice to improve performance and reduce anxiety. He teaches student focus and attention, body awareness, and ability to immerse themselves in the present moment. These are skills needed in both high level performance and mindfulness meditation.
Panaptic: Comprehensive Marijuana and Electronic Delivery Prevention Education:
During the fourth form year, students will participate in an online digital learning experience targeting marijuana and electronic delivery prevention education. Panaptic was created by two clinical psychologists with over 35 years of experience in research and addiction medicine.
Panaptic is an eight-session online course. The goal is to increasing students understanding of the short- and long-term risks on emotional/social health, physical health, as well as impacts on academic performance from marijuana and nicotine use. Panaptic programming includes parent education modules that explore the science of marijuana and vaping and how to have productive family conversations around marijuana/electronic delivery prevention. During the drug and alcohol prevention section of Eudemonia Health+, students will analyze the relationship between using alcohol and other drugs as it relates to other health risks, such as unintentional injuries, violence, suicide, and high-risk sexual behaviors.
What is counseling?
A common misconception about counseling is that it is only appropriate for people who are experiencing severe mental health illness. Most people can benefit from receiving support from a counselor at some point in their lives, and last year one out of every nine students met with a Hill School Clinician at least once. Counseling is an opportunity for students to speak individually with a trained licensed professional about a wide range of concerns and develop successful strategies for coping with or working through them.
How often will I meet with a counselor?
Some students meet with a counselor one or two times, while other may meet monthly, bi-weekly, or weekly with a counselor. The frequency and duration of counseling will be jointly determined by the student and his/her counselor and may vary according to the student’s needs.
What kinds of things do students talk with counselors?
The counselors recognize that being a student at The Hill School can be challenging at times. They are there to provide support to any student seeking help. Speaking with friends, family, and teachers can often be helpful for students, but sometimes students can benefit from speaking to a trained professional in a safe, confidential, and nonjudgmental environment. Any concern is appropriate to talk about with a counselor, including (but not limited to):
- Academic performance
- Body image or eating concerns
- Divorce or other family issues
- Feeling overwhelmed
- Gender identity
- Loss of a friend of loved one
- Race, ethnicity, nationality, or other cultural identity
- Relationship with family, friends or others
- Sexual orientation
- Sexual assault
- Sleep issues
- Stress management
- Substance use (alcohol, drugs, nicotine)
Who will know if I’m seeing a counselor?
In most cases, no one will be notified that you are meeting with a counselor. Counseling is most effective if students can share information in a confidential way, and the counselors are dedicated to honoring and protecting students’ privacy within the limits of safety and the law.
Parents/guardians are not contacted by counselors unless a counselor has significant concerns about a student’s well-being. Counselors are mandated reporters, and as such are required by law to contact the proper authorities if there are concerns about abuse and neglect. If a parent/guardian directly contacts the counseling office inquiring if their child is being seen by a counselor, the counselor will confirm that student is in contact with the office but will NOT provide details about what is being discussed in counseling without first discussing this with the student.
There are times when deans, teachers, or advisers’ express concerns about students to the counseling office. In such cases, the counseling office may acknowledge whether the student is in contact with the counseling office but will not divulge confidential information without the student’s permission.
The counselors do work closely with other members of the Wellness Center staff, including the Medical Director and nurses. Information that is shared within the Wellness Center is on a need-to-know basis in order to provide the best possible medical care.
How do I make an appointment?
To make an appointment to see a counselor, you can email firstname.lastname@example.org. If you have a specific counselor, you would like to see please mention that in the email. Also, please provide information about which days/periods would work best for you to meet. A counselor will contact you within 48 hours to schedule an appointment.
In the case of an emergency, go to or call the Wellness Center at 610-705-1111 and ask to speak to the counselor on call. If it is after curfew, please contact Hill Security at 610-327-3060 to escort you to the Wellness Center. We have a counselor on call for emergencies 24/7.
What is a Mental Health Medical Leave?
If it is determined that a student needs a higher level of care than what the Counseling Center can provide, a student may be placed on Medical Leave. During this leave of absence, a student’s academics are not compromised and upon return from medical leave, a student will work the Director of Studies and Instruction to make up work overtime. The primary focus is for the student to regain mental health and stability to return to Hill School academics and functions. The Medical Leave process is a formal process that goes through the Medical Leave Committee which is comprised of the following:
- The Medical Director
- The Director of Counseling
- The Dean of Academics
- The Dean of Students
- The Dean of Residence Life
Once the committee has made a recommendation, it is presented to The Head of School for approval. Medical leaves vary in time and reason and each case is considered in it’s own unique manner.
Eudemonia (Greek word used by Aristotle to denote happiness, or ‘the worthwhile life') is a well-being program for third, fourth, and sixth form students designed to educate them on how they might capitalize upon their human resources to make the most of their potential. Students learn about topics including empathy, managing conflict, resilience, and judgment.
Third and sixth form Eudemonia consists of 10 discussions that will cover a variety of topics. Lessons are grounded in the work of Dr. Martin Seligman (University of Pennsylvania) and based on his PERMA model (positive Emotion, Engagement, Positive Relationships, Meaning, and Accomplishments/Achievement.)
Fourth form students take Eudemonia Health+, an enhanced one term course consisting of thirty class sessions, offered in the winter and spring terms. This course will address aspects in three main areas: social/emotional health, sexual health, and drug and alcohol prevention.
Social and Emotional Health Education:
The HealthSmart curriculum meets National Health Education Standards (NHES) and gives students the functional knowledge and essential skills required to achieve social and emotional health literacy. This curriculum has lesson-based objectives and assessments that are based on the knowledge and skill expectations in the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC’s) Health Education Curriculum Analysis Tool. The content of social and emotional learning will focus on understanding healthy emotional regulation, conflict management skills, mindfulness practice, and suicide prevention education.
Sexual Health Education:
The Rights, Respect, and Responsibility curriculum is a sexual health education curriculum that fully meets the National Sexuality Education Standards (NSES). The NSES outlines the foundational knowledge and skills students need to navigate sexual development and grow into sexually healthy adults. The content during these sessions will address both the functional knowledge related to sexuality and the specific skills necessary to adopt healthy behaviors. Topics will include information on the following:
- Describing the human sexual response cycle, including the role hormones play.
- Analyzing how brain development has an impact on cognitive, social and emotional changes of adolescence and early adulthood.
- Differentiating between biological sex, sexual orientation, and gender identity and expression.
- Comparing and contrasting the advantages and disadvantages of abstinence and other contraceptive methods, including condoms as well as educating on emergency contraception and describing its mechanism of action.
- Describing common symptoms of and treatments for sexually transmitted infections, including HIV.
- Evaluating the potentially positive and negative roles of technology and social media in relationships.
- Describing characteristics of healthy and unhealthy romantic and/or sexual relationships as well as defining sexual consent and explaining its implications for sexual decision making.
- Explaining why a person who has been raped or sexually assaulted is not at fault.
Drug and Alcohol Prevention Education:
Fourth form students will be participating in a dynamic prevention program focused on marijuana and electronic delivery(vaping).
To set up an appointment with a counselor, please email:
Monday-Friday: 8:30 a.m. -4:30 p.m.
For mental health emergencies, outside of these hours, please go directly to the Wellness Center and speak with a nurse.
The Counseling Center is located on the West Side of Wellness Center (Upper School).