16 05, 2017

Tips for Emerging Adults: Navigating Life after Graduation

By |May 16th, 2017|Blog, Counseling|0 Comments|

Written by Hannah Trible

Did you know there is a life stage called Emerging Adulthood? Well, as a UVA student or recent graduate, you’re right in the middle of it! It’s an exciting and uncertain time, full of opportunity and change. Read on for tips on how to enjoy and master this important phase of life.

The Five Defining Characteristics of Emerging Adulthood are:

  • Identity Exploration
  • Instability
  • Self-Focus
  • Feeling in-Between
  • Possibility

TIP: This is a time for exploring who you want to be, in love, work, and worldview. It’s a time when almost nothing is certain, because most of your major life decisions are still ahead of you. Watch this Ted Talk by Jeffrey Jensen Arnett, who coined the term emerging adulthood, and conducts extensive research on the topic. (And guess what – he got his PhD from UVa!)

Self-Focus is not Selfishness You may have heard some bad press about twentysomethings: that they are disinclined to work hard, afraid of commitment, or too idealistic. Try not to let these critiques get into your head! Looking through the lens of emerging adulthood, your twenties are a time when one of your main obligations is to yourself. Of course, you may still have responsibilities to others, but don’t forget that you’re an important part of the equation. This can be a time to begin learning what brings your life meaning, what you are curious about knowing and doing, and who you prefer to spend your time with. You can try things now that might be harder in the future when you have long-term commitments.

11 04, 2017

Tips for Partners of Survivors

By |April 11th, 2017|Blog, Counseling|0 Comments|

When you are in a relationship with someone who has been harmed, it is difficult to know how to help your partner while also managing your own reactions. Some of the reactions you may have are:

  • Anger
  • Sleep disturbances
  • Guilt or shame
  • Fearfulness
  • Denial
  • Frustration
  • Depression
  • Wanting to take action

Because of these reactions, it is sometimes helpful for you to seek support for yourself, in addition to your partner seeking help to recover from the violence. All of these reactions are normal responses to trauma – even when you did not experience a traumatic event directly yourself. Managing these reactions in a healthy way is key to being able to support your partner.

28 02, 2017

Tips for a fun and healthy spring break

By |February 28th, 2017|Blog, Counseling|1 Comment|

Spring break and vacations are a time to relax, rejuvenate, travel, and enjoy time with family and friends. Being safe during this time will ensure that you do have fun and that you bring back good memories of your experience. Here are some tips to make sure that your travel experience is great!

Travel Safety Tips

  • Travel with someone you know and trust, and preferably with a group.
  • Even if you are with a group, you do not have to go along with something if it does not feel safe to you. Follow your own instincts. Listen to your gut.
  • Part of the fun of traveling is to meet new people. At the same time, this can be done in a way that does not cause problems. Don’t go off alone with someone you have just met. Also don’t allow a member of your group to leave alone with someone they do not know.
  • Don’t give out information about your hotel room or let someone you just met into your room. Agree to meet people in public places like restaurants and not isolated locations.
  • Lock your hotel/motel room door (keep your keycard in a safe place) and when someone knocks, always look through the peephole before opening the door.

These may sound like common sense ideas, but it is easy to forget when you’re caught up in the excitement of travel, new experiences, and you are out of your familiar environment.

4 01, 2017

Tips for Making & Keeping Your New Year’s Resolution

By |January 4th, 2017|Blog, Counseling|0 Comments|

“Eat healthier.”
“Get more organized.”
“Exercise more.”

These may sound familiar as resolutions we have all made many times. And then…the change doesn’t last. Changing habits is hard work but it can be done.

Here are some TIPS that can help you make your resolution and stick with it!

1. Get specific
Make the change into a specific, reasonable goal. Eating healthier is too big a goal and too vague. Pick one thing you would like to change about your eating and focus on that for one month. Then once that change is successful, choose the next goal. For example, I will eat a healthy breakfast three times a week. This is a reasonable and manageable goal.

2. Don’t do it alone
Get support for your change. Change will last longer if important people in your life or community are a part of the process. For example, if your goal is to exercise, you can find someone to walk with you or take a class with you. Some people even use their dogs as motivators to get walking!

18 11, 2016

Tips for a mentally healthy holiday

By |November 18th, 2016|Blog, Counseling|0 Comments|

Expectations and Relationships

More often than not, we find that our holidays don’t turn out to be quite as easy-going and fun as we expect them to be. Many problems that occur during the holidays are a result of unrealistic expectations we set. One expectation could be that it should be a magical time (and often it can be). We also hope that everyone will “act their best” because of the holiday and that everyone will forgive and forget. We expect our family to look like the ones on the Hallmark commercials even though the media and advertisements can set unrealistic expectations. If you have family conflicts, do not expect them to go away because it is the holiday season.

If you have moved away from your family or been away for your first semester at college, you may be surprised at how home has changed. You may even realize the ways that you have changed because of your new experiences. Give yourself some time to adjust to these changes upon returning “home.” Trying to accept that you can only control yourself and not others is an important part of this adjustment period.

We suggest focusing on what makes the holiday meaningful for you! Make plans to prevent over-extending, over-eating, over-spending and over-drinking so you can have a healthier experience. Feeling stressed can lead to more relationship conflicts.

Especially with the recent election and the intense reactions many are having, it is helpful to think ahead of time about visiting with family members who may have diverse opinions.


  • Set limits for how long at a time you will talk or think about subjects that you know will increase your stress.
  • Be compassionate with yourself and others. Everyone responds differently at stressful times.
  • Be as open and honest as possible with family and friends about what you need from them. It’s okay to ask for what you need. It’s okay to ask them to let you take the lead on both bringing things up and on changing the subject when it feels like it is enough or too much.
  • You can send an email or make a phone call to let them know ahead of time that you want to set boundaries about certain topics. Or agree to discuss opinions respectfully, which means no name -calling, threats or yelling.
  • If you have family members who you know may make biased remarks about a particular group of people, “you can practice possible responses beforehand. Figure out what works best for you, what feels the most comfortable. Become confident in your responses, and use them.” (Taken from Responding to Everyday Bigotry, Southern Poverty Law Center)
6 10, 2016

Tips For Making Housing Decisions

By |October 6th, 2016|Blog, Counseling|0 Comments|

Having just arrived six weeks ago on Grounds, you start to hear it everywhere: you need to start signing leases for the next year, or you will be left out.

In the rush to find that perfect spot, or perhaps out of fear of being left without choices, many students –especially first and second years—sign leases with people they do not know well, for apartments that may not be nearly as great as they sounded when their friends first told them about them.

Yes, renting off Grounds can be an opportunity to make new friends, learn adult skills, and explore Charlottesville.

For some, however, it turns into a very stressful experience that can negatively affect grades, mental health and social life. That friend of a friend doesn’t always make for a compatible roommate. Leases come with legal and financial strings that don’t care whether you change your mind or want to study abroad in January. Locations that sound great on the surface may not be, depending on whether you have a car, for example, or whether you like a lot of noise (or quiet).

All these things take time to figure out. It can make the difference between a fun, productive year and a stressful, expensive, drama-filled one. So before you sign that lease for next year. You might take time to ask yourself:

1. Who do I know who would be compatible with me?
It’s more than about being friends: Sleep schedules, noise expectations, kitchen cleanliness, clear understanding about shared responsibility for the space, and differences in how everyone conducts their social lives all matter if you want your college home to be a refuge rather than a source of stress.

2. How many people do I really want to live with?
For extroverts raised in a big noisy family it may not be a big deal to share an apartment with 6 or 10 other people. Others might need something a little less complicated.

8 08, 2016

Tips for a Healthy Start to the Academic Year

By |August 8th, 2016|Blog, Counseling|0 Comments|

Any change in life can cause stress, even a positive change. Whether you’re coming to U.Va. for the first time or returning to Grounds for your second, third, or fourth year, change can be stressful. Relationships are new or different, and you may find yourself in the middle of unfamiliar experiences and living spaces, all of which contribute to the excitement and challenge of adjusting to a new year. But any change presents a good opportunity for growth.

Amidst all the changes, taking the time to sit down with a friend or counselor can help you take full advantage of this opportunity to grow.

13 06, 2016

Resources for Healthy Processing of Violence in the News

By |June 13th, 2016|Blog, Counseling|0 Comments|

This weekend’s tragic attack on Pulse, an LGBTQ nightclub in Orlando, reminds us of how far-reaching the impact of violent events can be. News of violent events can have a significant impact on all of us whether or not a particular instance of violence has affected us directly. Understanding a bit about how we, as humans, process extremely troubling information can be helpful.

At the Maxine Platzer Lynn Women’s Center, as at so many other organizations around the country and the world, our first thoughts are for the families and friends of the victims killed and injured in this weekend’s shooting.

As a provider of counseling services for the University community, our attention turns next to UVA students in need of support at this difficult time as well as to UVA staff, faculty and members of the Charlottesville community who need to locate appropriate support services. If you feel counseling might be helpful, please call our counseling line at (434) 982-2252, Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and we will try to assist you with either consultation, counseling, or referrals for other appropriate help. If you feel you are in crisis, however, please do not leave a message as it is important to seek immediate help. Instead please call 911, walk in to the UVA Emergency Room, or call Region Ten Crisis at (434) 972-1800. UVA students can also walk in to CAPS, or call (434) 243-5150 (after hours, (434) 972-7004).

Even when shaken by terrible news, not everyone needs counseling services. That said, information about how you might be processing can be helpful, as can some reminders about self-care.

News of a violent event challenges our fundamental expectations of the world in which we carry out our day-to-day routines. Many people are sometimes surprised by the degree to which such news can affect them, even when the news is about people elsewhere that they do not know. To help, the Women’s Center’s counseling staff have created a short fact sheet about trauma to help you understand how your brain is struggling with what you are seeing and hearing.

11 02, 2016

Mental wellness screenings set for February 18 and 19

By |February 11th, 2016|Blog, Counseling|0 Comments|

In collaboration with UVA Student Health CAPS and the Office of Health Promotion, the Maxine Platzer Lynn Women’s Center will be one of two sites for mental wellness screenings, as part of Mental Wellness Screening Day. Last year, the Women’s Center counseling team saw a record number of students for screenings and are hopeful another successful turn out this year. This opportunity for a “mental health check-up” gives students a free, fast, and anonymous way to learn more about how to improve their mental wellness. The screenings includes depression, anxiety, eating disorders, post-traumatic stress disorder and bi-polar disorder.

Join CAPS on Thursday, February 18, from 11:00am to 3:00pm in Newcomb Hall, room 360 for your screening and a slice of pizza.

Join the Maxine Platzer Lynn Women’s Center Counseling staff on Friday, February 19, from 10:00am to 3:00pm at the Women’s Center. Join us from 10:00am-12:00pm for bagels and coffee.

5 02, 2016

Creating a New Path

By |February 5th, 2016|Blog, Counseling|0 Comments|

In college and in life we face stressful events each day, some small, some big. Did you know that the way you react to these events creates a “path” that your brain seeks and follows and strengthens with each experience? Imagine being a child walking to and from school through a field of wildflowers. Very quickly a path becomes established, as the tendency is to follow the cues that are familiar. Similarly, your brain creates pathways. If you have the tendency to react emotionally to cues of stress, this is the path your brain will take and it will become more ingrained with each experience or repetition. Individuals who typically respond to stress with a logical, problem solving approach create a different path. But, you say, “I already have a path of emotional reaction the size of the Grand Canyon…I’m hopeless.” (Now that’s an emotional reaction if I ever heard one.)

You are not hopeless and here’s why. Your brain has this amazing ability called plasticity. That means you can change the “path” your brain typically travels. Accomplishing this takes practice but think how productive you can be if you engage your thinking brain vs your emotional brain in response to stressful events. Here’s a simple exercise to help you get started:

Imagine your brain in 2 parts: a thinking side and an emotional side. As you go through your day, try to consciously observe and identify what “side” of your brain you are using. By the very act of identifying and labeling how you are reacting you are beginning to use your thinking side. Next, try to purposefully engage your thinking side BEFORE you face a stressful experience rather than letting your emotional side take the reins. Checking your breathing and taking slow, deep breaths can also help to send a signal to your brain that there is no real danger and together you and your brain can work through this.

Come on, give it a try!

Each time you engage the thinking side of your brain you are creating a new path that your brain will eventually seek and follow. Oh, the other path, the emotional one? That’s now a field of wildflowers for you to wander through as you choose.

Carol Gullo-Jenne is an LCSW who recently retired to the Charlottesville area after many years in practice in Virginia Beach. She is also the parent of a UVA almnus and is happy to contribute to the well-being of the University community by sharing her expertise here on our site.