Professional Personal Counseling

Welcome to the Counseling Services at Graceland University! The Counseling Services welcomes all students, and in a warm atmosphere where all students belong. The Counseling Services encourages the individual, emotional and academic well-being of students and helps them reach their full ability by providing broad clinical counseling services.

The purpose of the Counseling Services is committed providing a safe, welcoming, affirming, building-connections, and supporting the students at Graceland University with their overall wellbeing. The Counseling Services is committed ongoing process of learning development, observance of our differences, and a commitment to challenge each other and others in the interest of social justice.

The Counseling Services at Graceland University concept is to approach each student as a whole and treat them in a holistic manner in a safe space that encompasses, inclusiveness, respectfulness, diversity, and culturally sensitive counseling services.

The Counseling Services tries to provide by offering services that are fully coherent to students in an atmosphere that is welcoming and approachable. Conscious of a holistic perspective, the Counseling Services is committed to providing individualized attention to students characterized by manners of, compassion, and a genuine desire to be helpful.

Services provided at the Professional Personal Counseling Services include:

  • Individual counseling: The first step is to Contact Polly Joseph at 641-784-5463 or email at with a Personal Counselor for an initial consultation appointment.  The appointment provides a chance for you to discuss your concerns with Personal Counselor and determine which service will best meet your needs. Built on this meeting, you and your Personal Counselor may agree that individual counseling or group counseling would best suit your needs. If this is the case, the Personal Counselor will gather the necessary information from you so that you can begin therapy.
  • Drop-Ins: Drop-ins is chat service offered by the Professional Personal Counseling Services. It provides you with an opportunity to have a casual, confidential, anonymous conversation with a Graceland University's personal counselor. You can share your mental health concerns, work on problem solving together, learn about useful campus and Graceland University offers an initial consultation appointment to discuss your concerns and determine how best to meet your needs. Community resources or ask questions about counseling and Graceland University.
  • Group counseling: In group therapy, the Personal Counselor will facilitate the group, and you can also get to know other students who are facing similar issues as you. Groups at the Graceland University are designed for students who want to understand themselves and others in greater depth. These may be students who have concerns about relationships with others; students who feel different from their peers because of the type of problem currently being experienced; and/or students who make choices based on what others want or expect instead of evaluating decisions for themselves. The personal Counselor is ethically committed to confidentiality and federal and state laws require it. That means that even your attendance in a group at Graceland University is kept private and confidential by the Personal Counselor. The issue of confidentiality is an important one which is always addressed in the group therapy immediately
  • Telehealth services: Telehealth therapy is an online virtual/platform (Zoom) to meet your Personal Counselor. At Graceland University we protect your privacy, confidentiality by making sure the Telehealth platform (Zoom) and is HIPAA secured video conference platform. Students often struggle with managing classes, social relationships, and multiple responsibilities every day. Whether you’re struggling with the transition into college, into the workforce after college, or figuring out your personal goals. The personal counselor can offer one-on-one counseling. The UCS offers an initial consultation appointment to discuss your concerns and determine how best to meet your needs.
  • Complex relationships: Many students enter an intimate relationship during college. As time goes on, however, ups and downs are going to happen. Maintaining a healthy relationship requires good communication and support between partners. The quality of the relationships we have affects our lives in many ways, including our self-esteem, our capability to handle stress, and our academic and work-related productivity. The professional Personal Counseling Services can facilitate healthy relationships allow for individuality and personal growth, all while bringing out the best in both people.
  • Recommendations and referrals: The Professional Personal Counseling Services offers an initial consultation appointment to discuss your concerns and determine how best to meet your needs. Due to special requirements for care, ineligibility for our services, or other reasons, you and the Personal Counselor may decide that a referral to another agency or service provider would be most beneficial.


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If you are feeling like life is not worth living and you are thinking suicide might be an answer, here are some contacts you might want to use:  You can always contact your HP or hall director or the personal counselor at or 641-784-5463. Below are two more options – a hotline call number for suicide or a crisis text number.  You don’t have to go through these thoughts alone.


Good Ideas for Your Mental Health

  • Set a Media Diet- it is nice to have social media, TV, movies and such available to help us feel connected to others. Some people say it actually makes them feel worse! So, we cannot use social media alone and we cannot be on it all day. Try some of these other ways to take care of ourselves listed below.
  • Stay connected- social distancing is necessary to stop the spread of the virus. However, emotional distancing is not what we need as people.  Stay connected by actually talking to others by phone, facetime, Skype or Zoom. Check in with parents, grandparents and those who might also be alone.
  • Dealing with Loneliness or Depression – COVID-19 fatigue is real. It is especially difficult when you add in having to social distance from others. Graceland’s personal counselor may provide services for students. Contact Dee at 641-784-5463 or email at to make an appointment. 
  • Crisis text line-this is a free and anonymous 24/7 hotline available to people who are struggling emotionally.  Text “START” to 741-741 to be connected with a trained crisis counselor.
  • Suicide Prevention Lifeline, 1-800-273-TALK (8255). If you are having suicidal thoughts, they will talk to you and assess whether a other steps might be necessary. Do not just go to the hospital ER without calling ahead due to the virus.

    Check out these interactive helpful sites:

  • Care for Your Coronavirus Anxiety
  • Take Care of Your Spirit   (while some of these involve contact with others, most can be practiced in solitude)


57 Ideas for Self-Care

1. Listen to your favorite music

2. Enjoy a long, warm shower or bubble bath (if available)

3. Go for a walk in

4. Facetime or zoom/connect with a loved one

5. Relax outside

6. Exercise (of your choice)

7. Spiritual prayer time

8. Practice deep breathing

9. Do “stretching” exercises

10. Reflect on your positive qualities:  “I am…”

11. Watch the sunrise/sunset

12. Laugh

13. Concentrate/visualize a relaxing scene in your mind 

14. Create a collage representing “The Real Me”

15. Reflect on: “I appreciate…”

16. Write your thoughts and feelings in a personal journal

17. Read a special book or magazine

18. Sing/hum/whistle a happy tune

19. Play a musical instrument

20. Practice meditation

21. Work with plants (gardening)

22. Learn a new skill

23. See a special play or concert on social media

24. Workout at home with weights/equipment

25. Take a bike ride

26. Make yourself a nutritious snack

27. Draw/paint a picture

28. Do aerobics/dance

29. Smile/say: “I love myself” or other positive compliments

30. Imagine or visualize yourself achieving your goals and dreams

31. Reflect on: “my most enjoyable memories”

32. Enjoy a relaxing nap

33. Practice Yoga

34. Enjoy a cool, refreshing glass of water or fruit juice.

35. Enjoy the beauty of nature... even if only from a window view

36. Count your blessings: “I am Thankful for…”

37. Star gaze

38. Daydream

39. Tell yourself the loving words you want to hear from others

40. Attend a special workshop/class online

41. Create with clay/pottery

42. Practice positive affirmations

43. Pet an animal

44. Watch your favorite TV show or movie

45. Reflect on your successes: “I can…”

46. Write a poem expressing your feelings

47. Relax by watching the clouds

48. Create something nice for yourself

49. Read positive, motivational literature or listen to TED talks

50. Reflect on: “What I value most in life!”

51. Phone or text a a friend

52. Go on a picnic

53. Enjoy a gourmet cup of herbal tea/ coffee

54. Practice a relaxation exercise

55. Practice the art of forgiveness

56. Participate in a hobby

57. Create your own unique list of things that work for you




High School ended. You packed up your stuff. You headed off to college for the first time. Or, maybe you changed colleges and are new to yet another college campus.   Your room is set up and classes have started.  You have made some friends and gone to some activities.  You have settled in. Half of the semester is over already. You might think your adjustment to college life is done.  But, making the transition to college life may take long than you think.  

There are two tasks involved in beginning college:

  • leaving familiar things, people and places
  • adapting to new things, people and places

Making life changes can affect each student differently.  All students need to know ways of coping with new situations. But, what makes these transitions so hard? In a familiar place, people generally feel accepted and secure.  Students are away from what is familiar to them, without their usual support, their methods of coping and working things out are challenged.  Failure looms large and self-esteem and confidence drops. Tasks, which would normally have been taken in one's stride, can suddenly seem quite a challenge, or even feel impossible. (Adapted from U of Cambridge Counseling Webpage;p:pcounseling)


Here is a list of some of the changes you may be dealing with:

  • Experimenting with new-found freedoms
  • Becoming familiar with campus
  • Homesickness and loneliness
  • Anxiety about classes, professors, roommates
  • Students ask themselves, “Do I fit in here?”
  • First assignments/test grades returned
  • Experiencing the consequences of decision-making
  • Roommate problems may arise
  • Soon will come your first midterm exams and grades

(Adapted from:  Helping your First-Year College Student Succeed, Richard Mullendore and Cathie M. Hatch, National Resource Center for the First-Year Experience and Students in Transition at the University of South Carolina, Columbia)

Take care of yourself

By developing a support system with students in your Hall, House, classes, Campus Ministries, Residence Life, Coworkers, faculty and other staff, Teammates and coaches Career, academic and personal counselors, you will have others to confide in and talk about your issues with.

Be more involved in your classes or join a group activity by keeping up on your assignments and having fun. 

Use coping strategies such as listening to music, deep breathing, going for a walk, talking to a friend or other self-nurturing activities.

So, don’t be too hard on yourself.  Adjustment doesn’t happen in a day or a week.  Give it time. Seek out others when you feel you cannot do it alone.  Remind yourself that it is okay to ask for help.  As your Personal Counselor on campus, I am available to assist you. Call 641-784-5463 or email me at to make an appointment.  

Why do I need to set boundaries on how I want people to treat me? Why can’t I just be nice and everyone will like me and treat me with respect? Why can’t I find someone to date who treats me right? How do others attract healthy people into their life? Can’t we all just get along with one another without having to follow guidelines? 

If you have ever felt uncomfortable with how others treat you, if your boundaries have been violated in the past by someone you thought cared about you, you know that it is important to set up boundaries and limits to keep yourselves safe and healthy. The reality is that life without healthy boundaries can be messy.  

Establishing boundaries is essential to creating balance in your spiritual, emotional, physical, and mental health.  Boundaries strengthen your relationships with others and yourself. There are negative effects when we neglect to set limits on how we want others to treat us. Setting your boundaries allow you to heal from past violations and bring order back to your life.  There are several benefits to protecting our personal boundaries.  Our feelings of being valued and respected increase immediately.  Below is a poster with some of the positive statements that confirms needed steps to establishing and following through with creating healthy boundaries.

You will start attracting healthy people in your life when you set healthy boundaries.

Maybe you were raised in a dysfunctional family that was so enmeshed in one another’s lives that there were no clear lines between where they ended and you began. There were no personal boundaries ever established.  It may be uncomfortable for you to speak up at first and tell others “It is not okay for you to treat me this way”.  But, keep practicing being assertive! There is hope that you can begin right now and decide how you want others to treat you.  First, take time to list what your core values are.  What do you want to stand for and what do you believe in? Next, make a list of statements on how you want to be treated by others.  For example, “I want to be around people who treat me as an equal” or "I want my partner to respect my choice if I do not want to have casual sex” or “I value honesty and want to be around people who tell the truth”, etc.  Start attracting healthy people in your life today! Some of the statements below might help you get started. If you need more assistance, call or email me to set up an appointment at 641-784-5463 or


Though all your years of growing up, people may have asked you, “What do you want to be?”  Not everyone knows the answer to this question in elementary or even high school. Sometimes we give an answer and it changes over time as we learn more about what choices are available.  You may still be struggling with this question while you are here at Graceland.  Instead of focusing on the one profession you want to do for the rest of your life, try reframing the question.  Think of this instead:  “What problems do I want to solve in the world”?  It may help you discover more about yourself and what you want to do with your life.  And, who says you need to settle on just one choice.  Nothing is set in stone. You are free to change your mind at any age.  I like to say that my plans are set in “Jello” and that gives me a little “wiggle” room, if needed.

Becoming who you are meant to be is a process that includes more than just what career you may pursue. It is okay to try on new ideas and see how these ideals fit you.  There will be some things you will want to discard, because they just don’t fit with your values or style. There will be other ideas that you will want to keep because they bring out the best in you. It may take a lifetime to fully become your true self.  It can be confusing to sort it all out. 

While deciding the direction of your life path, taking classes, studying, dealing with friends, relationships, and having fun, there may be some problems you will encounter along the way. You may go through painful situations, losses, and people who betray you.  Life brings many challenges. There are times when events happen to us that are difficult to overcome without the help of trusted friends and/or a personal counselor. It can be difficult to keep striving to become your best self.  Seeking consultation through personal counseling can be helpful. Take action. Learning how to handle life problems and removing barriers in a positive healthy way, can get you back on track for future success.  A article explains a few ways to ‘find your authentic self’ , or click here to read another article that you may find helpful.

Call 641-784-5463 or email at for an appointment.