Empty college library because covid 19 trauma students going to counseling with Empower Counseling

The trauma of Covid 19: Counseling for college students with Empower Counseling.

Samsa (Substance Abuse & Mental Health Services Administration ) defines trauma as “an event, series of events, or set of circumstances that is experienced by an individual as physi­cally or emotionally harmful or threatening and that has lasting adverse effects on the in­dividual’s functioning and physical, social, emotional, or spiritual well-being.”

Trauma does not have to be sudden, violent, or even abusive to have an effect on us. 

There are clear reasons why college students are on the verge of a mental health crises.

In is staggering to realize that even before the pandemic, 1 in 3 college freshman dealt with mental illness before going off to college, according to a 2018 World Health Organization survey of 14,000 students.

In 2018, students who participated in this survey reported anxiety and depression as the biggest obstacles affecting their academic performance. 

In fact, 42% of students admitted to being so depressed, that they could not function. 

Then there was Covid-19.

When the brain is suffering from the stress of trauma, it actually goes into survival mode, conserving energy to keep us alive.  What does this mean for performance in academics? It becomes much more difficult to learn because it becomes physiologically less of a priority to our brains. 

How can we move away from trauma and toward restoring the safety and mental wellbeing of our college students?

The Trauma of Covid-19: Counseling for College Students with Empower Counseling offers 5 suggestions.

1. Address your student’s psychological, emotional, and physical safety:

Ask your son or daughter about his or concerns. What is he worried about? What would make him feel safe? Think about what makes you feel safe and keep the lines of communication open to revisit the topic. 

2. Don’t just focus on the results of the past year.

Chances are your student did not achieve the same type of results she is used to in school last year. Have a conversation about how the trauma affected her- what worked well and what did not worked well. The key here is to do this analysis in a non-judgmental, non-critical way. It is important to avoid phrases like, “Why couldn’t you do better?”. Just talk through how the year unfolded and what you both can do differently in the future and treat the last year as a learning experience.


Explain how important finding ways to connect with others is to all humans, but especially to his age group. Isolation fosters depression, so if you see yours student spending more and more time alone, it is time to seek help.

4. Help your student gain clarity about what is most important to her.

In times like a pandemic it is easy to feel helpless and like we have no control over the situation. We don’t have control over the larger situation but we do have control over our own words and actions. Having conversations about what we can do to help ourselves and others instead of focusing on what we cannot do can bring peace.

5. Talk with your student about his strengths.

Once again, a pandemic can leave us feeling out of control, like there is nothing we can do to make things better. By focusing on our strengths, it is easier to find ways to use these strengths to get through difficult times-and to use our strengths to help others which fosters the connection we so deeply need. 

The pandemic has been such a difficult time for so many. However, teens and young adults, as a whole, have had the hardest time navigating the pandemic.

If you see your college student is suffering or having trouble returning to her pre-pandemic self, contact Empower Counseling for help. 

Empower counseling is here to help teens, college students, young adults and professionals struggling due to trauma and loss from the pandemic. Kathryn at Empower use ACT, Acceptance Commitment Therapy, for anxiety, depression, and difficult life transitions.

Share This:

Contact Empower