We're Here To Help

The Counseling and Life Development Staff are available to assist all current Webster University students, faculty, and staff. If you have any personal issues interfering with your success at Webster University or beyond, please know that we are here to help. If you have a particular counselor with whom you would like to meet, just let us know.

The first step is up to you. Stop by or call our office to make an appointment, or email us now to find out more. Just walk in to our office at 540 Garden Ave.; call the Counseling and Life Development office at 314-968-7030; or email counselingld@webster.edu (non-confidential).

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Common Reasons for Counseling

The Bullets of Abusive Relationships

  • Does your partner get angry when you talk on the phone?
  • Do they open your mail?
  • Is your partner angry when you are just a little late getting home?
  • Does your partner want you home when they are home?
  • Do they keep you from seeing friends or say bad things about the people you like?
  • Are you sometimes afraid of your partner?
  • Do you worry about what they will think about how you dress?
  • Do you ask your partner who you can see or whether you can go out?
  • Are you careful of what you say so that they won't get upset?
  • Do you feel like you are walking on eggshells?
  • Do they  call you names like "stupid, "bitch" or "bastard"?
  • Does your partner say no one else would want you?
  • Do they tell you what is "wrong" with you in front of other people?
  • Have they made you do things that make you feel ashamed?
  • Has your partner said they will go crazy or kill themselves if you leave?
  • Does your partner react to things by yelling, slamming doors or throwing things?
  • Does your partner refuse to let you go out unless you do as they say?
  • Does your partner threaten to hit you if you don't obey?
  • Do they force sex on you when you don't want it?
  • Do you work so hard to please them that you feel worn out?
  • Are you unable to do things you used to do easily?
  • After your partner has been mean, do they act sweet and loving?
  • After you partner has hit you, do they act remorseful and say they'll never do it again?
  • When you decide to leave, do they give you hope for change?
  • When you consider leaving, do you decide to stay because you think of the good times and hope they will happen again?

If any of these bullets apply to your relationship, it may be abusive

Abuse can be emotional, intellectual, physical, social, spiritual, and vocational. People in abusive relationships often feel very alone, embarrassed, and trapped. The important thing to know is that this is NOT your fault. You have the right to be treated with respect and kindness.

Call or come to Counseling/Life Development. We are located at 540 Garden Avenue, 314-968-7030.

The Signs of Addictive Relationships

  • Even though you know the relationship is bad for you (and perhaps others have told you this), you take no effective steps to end it.
  • You give yourself reasons for staying in the relationship that are not really accurate or that are not strong enough to counter-act the harmful aspects of the relationship.
  • When you think about ending the relationship, you feel terrible anxiety and fear which makes you cling to it even more.
  • When you take steps to end the relationship, you suffer painful withdrawal symptoms, including physical discomfort, that is only received by reestablishing contact.

If any of these signs apply to your relationships, it may be addictive

  • Make your "recovery" the first priority in your life.
  • Become "selfish," i.e. focus on getting your own needs met more effectively.
  • Courageously face your own problems and shortcomings.
  • Cultivate whatever needs to be developed in yourself, i.e. fill in gaps that have made you feel undeserving or bad about yourself.
  • Learn to stop managing and controlling others; by being more focused on your own needs, you will no longer need to seek security by trying to make theirs change.
  • Develop your "spiritual" side, i.e. find out what brings you peace and serenity and commit some time, at least half an hour daily to that endeavor.
  • Learn not to get "hooked" into the games of relationships: avoid dangerous roles you then to fall into e.g. "rescuer," "persecutor," "victim."
  • Find a support group of friends who understand.
  • Share with others what you have experienced.
  • Consider getting professional help.

When to seek professional help

  • When you are very unhappy in a relationship but are unsure of whether you should accept it as it is, make further efforts to improve it or get out of it.
  • When you have concluded that you should end a relationship, have tried to make yourself end it, but remain stuck.
  • When you suspect that you are staying in a relationship for the wrong reasons, such as feelings of guilt or fear of being alone, and you have been unable to over come the paralyzing effects of such feelings.
  • When you recognize that you have a pattern of staying in bad relationships and have not been able to change that pattern yourself.

Abstinence means waiting to have sex. And, a lot of young people are choosing abstinence. Why? Here are some of their top reasons:

  • I'm just not ready for sex.
  • I'd rather not have to think about birth control and safer sex.
  • I don't want to risk HIV or any other sexually transmitted disease.
  • I'm not ready to risk pregnancy.
  • I'm following my values.
  • I'm honoring my religious beliefs.
  • I want to wait for a committed relationship or marriage.
  • I'm not ready for the emotional stress of a sexual relationship.
  • It's my body, my decision!

The Domestic Abuse Intervention Project states that weapons of abuse include:


Yelling, screaming , belittling, raising fists, knocking down doors, "playing with" guns or weapons, threats, playing mind games....these are subtle messages that an abuser uses to tell his victim to "watch it."

Verbal Attacks

By attacking verbally the abuser keeps his hands clean but effectively degrades and intimidates his victim until her senses of perception is unstable, and her self-esteem is lowered until she believes what he says is true.


The abuser is better able to control their victim if they can isolate them from family, friends, and people who can help. Often the victim becomes a prisoner in their own home, unable to invite people over, and unable to go out, without their permission.

Minimizing, Denying and Blaming

The abuser needs someone else on which to place blame because their fragile ego cannot handle it. An abuser may become psychotic by denying that they hurt the victim followed by accusing them for hurting him and then minimizing the injuries. It is also common for an abuser to say to their victim, "you made me hit you."

Using Children

An abuser who wants to use children as weapons may take their ex-spouse to court when they withhold visitation because the children are sick. An abuser will also feel a great sense of control by keeping the children past the court-appointed time of visitation or refusing to provide their ex-spouse with travel information when they take them out of town.

Abusing Authority

Many abusers distort the Scriptures to validate their heavy handed control and to keep their spouse in line. Whenever he/she fails to meet their demands there is a reminder that he/she is head of this house and he/she must submit to whatever he/she said.

Economic Control

This type of abuse leaves the victim helplessly in the abuser's control as they have to beg for every penny and account for the pittance he/she is given. It often leaves them trapped without means to get help.

Coercion and Threats

An abuser uses threats to keep his victim in continuous fear so they will do whatever he/she demands. He may even coerce you into illegal acts by intimidation and belittling.

Physical Violence

When an abuser's power and control is threatened they will usually resort to physical violence to instill fear and regain control.

Types of Dysfunctional Families

The following are some examples of patterns that frequently occur in dysfunctional families.

  • One or both parents have addictions or compulsions (e.g. drugs, alcohol, promiscuity, gambling, overworking and/or overeating) that may have strong influence on family members.
  • One or both parents use the threat or application of physical violence as primary means of control. Children may have to witness violence, may be forced to participate in punishing siblings or may live in fear of explosive outbursts.
  • One or both parents exploit the children and treat them as possessions whose primary purpose is to respond to the physical and/or emotional needs of adults (e.g., protecting a parent or cheering up one who is depressed).
  • One or both parents are unable to provide, or threaten to withdraw, financial or basic physical care for their children. Similarly, one or both parents fail to provide their children with adequate emotional support.
  • One or both parents exert strong authoritarian control over the children. Often these families rigidly adhere to a particular belief (religious, political, financial and personal) Compliance with role expectations and rules is expected without any flexibility

There is a great deal of variability how often dysfunction interactions and behavior occur in families and in the kinds of severity of their dysfunction. However when patterns like the above are rather than the exception they systematically foster abuse and/or neglect.

Children may:

  • Be forced to take sides in conflicts between parents.
  • Experience "reality shifting" in which what is said contradicts what is actually happening (e.g. a parent may deny something happened that the child actually observed, for example when a parent describes a disastrous holiday dinner as a good time).
  • Be ignored, discounted or criticized for their feelings and thoughts.
  • Have parents that are inappropriately intrusive, overly involved and protective.
  • Have parents that are inappropriately distant and uninvolved with their children.
  • Have excessive structure and demands placed on their time, choice of friends or behavior; or conversely, receive no guidelines or structure.
  • Experience rejection or preferential treatment.
  • Be restricted from full or direct communication with other family members.
  • Be allowed or encouraged to use drugs and alcohol.
  • Be locked out of the house.
  • Be slapped, hit, scratched, punched or kicked.

Making Changes

Sometimes we continue in our roles because we are waiting for our parents to give us permission to change. But that permission can come only from you. Like most people, patterns in dysfunctional families often feel threatened by changes in their children.

As a result, they may thwart your efforts to change and insist that you "change back." That's why it's so important for you to trust your own perceptions and feelings. Change begins with you. Some specific things you can do include:

  • Make a list of our behaviors, beliefs, etc. that you would like to change.
  • Next to each item on the list write down the behavior, belief, ect. that you would like to do or have instead.
  • Pick one item on your list and beginning practicing the alternate behavior or belief. Choose the easiest item first.
  • Once you are able to do the alternate behavior more often than the original pick another item on the list and practice changing it to.
  • In addition to working on your own, you might find it helpful to work with a group of people with similar experiences and/r with a professional counselor.

Special Considerations

As you make changes, keep in mind the following:

  • Stop trying to be perfect. In addition, don't try to make your family perfect.
  • Realize that you are not in control of other people's lives. You do not have the power to make others change.
  • Don't try to win the old struggles you can't win.
  • Set clear limits: e.g. if you do not plan on visiting your parents for the holiday, say "no," not "maybe."
  • Identify what you would like to have happen. Recognize when you stop behaving the way you used to, even for a short time, there may be adverse reactions from your family or friends. Anticipate what the reactions will be (e.g. tears, yelling, other intimidating responses) and decide how you will respond.

The Prevalence of Eating Disorders

In the United States, conservative estimates indicate that after puberty 5-10% of girls and women and 1 million boys and men are struggling with eating disorders, including: anorexia, bulimia, binge eating or borderline conditions. Because of the secretiveness and shame associated with eating disorders, many cases are probably not reported.

In addition many individuals struggle with body dissatisfaction and disordered eating attitudes and behaviors. For example 80% of American women are dissatisfied with their appearance.

The drive for thinness

  • 42% of 1st-3rd grade girls want to be thinner
  • 81% of 10-year-olds are afraid of being fat
  • The average American woman is 5'4" and weighs 140 pounds. The average American model is 5'11" and weighs 117 pounds
  • Most fashion models are thinner than 98% of American women


  • 51% of 9- and 10-year-old girls feel better about themselves if they are on a diet
  • 46% of 9-11 year olds are "sometimes" or "very often" on diets, and 82% of their families are "sometimes" or "very often" on diets
  • 91% of women recently surveyed on a college campus have attempted to control their weight through dieting - 22% dieted "often" or "always"
  • 95% of all dieters will regain their lost weight in 1-5 years
  • 35% of "normal dieters" progress to pathological dieting; of those, 20-22% progress to partial or full-syndrome eating disorders
  • 25% of American men and 45% of American women are on a diet on any given day
  • Americans spend over $40 billion on dieting and diet-related products each year

Homesickness is a term that is often used to describe feelings of loss, confusion, anxiety and loneliness following a move or major change in life. It is very common. Almost everyone experiences it at one time or another, and people who have just started at a new school in a new place are at high risk.

What that means is that if you are feeling homesick after starting at Webster, you are probably not alone; in fact, you're normal! The other good news is that homesickness can be overcome. This web page will provide you with some resources to help deal with and beat homesickness. Read through it, try some of the ideas, and if they don't work try something different!

So what can I do about homesickness? All kinds of things. Here are some ideas of things to help you stay connected to home while still getting comfortable at Webster. Try these and see if you can think of others:

Create a "home away from home."

  • Bring familiar things from home to decorate your room; make your new space somewhere you feel comfortable.

Keep a journal.

  • Write about your fears, excitements, achievements, expectations and other experiences.

Talk with someone who has been through it.

  • If you have an older friend or sibling, even a parent, who has survived homesickness, it may help to talk to them about what you are feeling and what they did to get through it.

Make plans to go home and stick to them.

  • Don't just go home impulsively, and stay on campus at least as often as you go home.

Find ways to communicate regularly with friends & family at home.

  • Budget money for phone calls.
  • Send email.
  • Use instant messaging or other internet chat options.

Make a commitment to meet people here, and make the time to do so.

  • Attend floor functions.
  • If you live in a residence hall, leave your door open so people can stop by and say hello.
  • Talk to people in the halls and other common areas.

Get to know the place - Explore!

  • Get comfortable with the campus and surrounding area.
  • Bring someone else along with you and share the experience.

Go to campus events.

  • Sports, concerts, theater, homecoming, etc.

Get Involved.

  • Make an effort to get to know your classmates.
  • Find an organization(s) that involve your interests and go to the meetings.
  • If the first organization you try isn't right for you, try another!

Find a hobby.

  • Just having something to do will help keep you from brooding about home.

Avoid negative coping strategies.

  • Don't use alcohol, drugs or sex to hide from homesickness (or anything else); those problems will still be there and new ones will get added on!

Find a balance between work & play.

  • Added stress from pushing yourself too hard in class and having no fun can make homesickness worse. So can stress from playing too hard and blowing off class!

Take care of yourself.

  • Be sure to get enough food and sleep. Hunger and exhaustion will only make things worse!

If things get too bad, talk to us.

And remember, homesickness often passes on its own as a person becomes more involved with his or her new surroundings. The suggestions above will help you to do just that while keeping some of the support you have from home. With time and some effort, almost everyone does just fine!

What if Homesickness doesn't go away on its own? While homesickness usually goes away after a few weeks, it can sometimes be more persistent. If this is the case, you may wish to: talk to someone who can help you through it.

  • A trusted professor
  • Your RA
  • Your advisor
  • A clergy member
  • A counselor

Consider if Webster is the right place for you to be right now.

Homesickness is often just a manifestation of fears about the future and is overcome once we realize that we can cope in a new situation; however, sometimes it is a sign that we need to be somewhere else in order to do what is best for us. If you feel that this may be the case in your situation, we encourage you to discuss this option with your advisor and/or a counselor before you make your final decision so that you can make the most informed choice possible.

If you want some more resources for homesickness, there are many resources on the Internet. One to try is humanityquest.com, where you can visit the homesickness page.

If you are having a mental health emergency or are experiencing suicidal thoughts, please reach out to one of these hotlines immediately:

  1. Behavioral Health Response (BHR)
  2. National Suicide Prevention Lifeline
    1-800-273-TALK (8255)
  3. Crisis Text Line

Campus Advocate (a licensed counselor in the Office of Counseling and Life Development)

  • 314-246-7009 (Note: this is the number to leave a message or to schedule an appointment)
  • The Campus Advocate serves as the support and resource person for students, faculty, and staff who are survivors of a sexual offense. The Advocate has training in crisis intervention and support techniques and provides, either directly or through referral, emotional and informational support for survivors.

Department of Public Safety: 314-246-7430 or 314-246-6911 (for emergencies)

Title IX - Sexual Misconduct Education & Resources

Kimberley Bynum-Smith
Director, Title IX and Title IX Coordinator
470 E. Lockwood Ave.
St. Louis, MO 63119

Exams. Sports. Homework. Work. Friends. Family. No wonder you're stressed! It is tough to balance school with the rest of your life. Before you get too stressed, take a look at the tips below:

Find out how to manage stress, time and even manage to have fun! You Know you're stressed if....

  • You're not sleeping
  • You feel nervous all the time.
  • You forget important things
  • You get sick a lot
  • You want to drop out

If stress has taken over, it is time to take action.

When stress hits big, take a time out.

Walk around the block. Clear your head breathe slowly in and out. Close your eyes and picture a favorite place. Taking a few minutes to regroup can help you get a handle on stress. Walk around the block. Clear your head breathe slowly in and out. Close your eyes and picture a favorite place. Taking a few minutes to regroup can help you get a handle on stress.

Take time for you.

Eat well. You'll be able to handle stress better. Exercise. It is one of the best ways to help with stress. No time to exercise? Walk to the library. Stretch at your desk. Take the stairs. Don't use drugs, alcohol, or tobacco. They are likely to create more stress.

Share your problems with your friends and family.

It helps to talk things over with someone close. Ask for help. A friend could fix you dinner. A classmate could help you study.

Sleep at night, not in class.

Without sleep you can't think straight or make good decisions. Try to get at least 7-8 hours a night an all nighter may seem like a good way to catch up on studying, but you are wrong. Chances are that you will crash the next day in the middle of that exam!

You can't do it all. You're only human.

Learn to say no to extra activities, you'll have more time to focus on what really matters. Remember, being too busy is a large source of stress.

Plan ahead to avoid being too busy.

Take a few minutes each night to organize the next day. Always keep your glasses, keys, and class supplies in one place to avoid last-minute panics. Consider making weekly schedule, include time for studying, exercise, friends and work.

Take it one day at a time.

You may feel extra stress during an illness, exams or a big break-up. Take a deep breath. Then use the tips above to get through it. Plan a reward for yourself when the crunch is over. If you feel you can't get through it talk with a doctor or a counselor.

At Webster, we promote responsible choices concerning drugs/alcohol and to assist students who have substance abuse problems.

Client Confidentiality

Client confidentiality is always a priority for the Counseling and Life Development Staff. We understand that confidentiality is essential to the success of your counseling experience. As a client, you can trust us to protect your privacy.

Confidentiality is not a privilege; it is a right. No family members, friends, faculty or staff have the right to your personal information. Of course, as with any rights there are particular circumstances under which you waive this right. The counselor will discuss this with you during your initial session or over the phone should you prefer.

Student Counseling & Life Development Staff

Patrick Stack

Dr. Patrick Stack

Director of Counseling

Dr. Patrick Stack (he/him) is in his 34th year as director of Counseling/Life Development. He received his B.A. in Philosophy from Suffolk University, Boston; MDiv from St. John's School of Theology, Boston; MEd in general counseling, from the University of Missouri–St. Louis; DMin from Eden Theological Seminary–St. Louis; Professional Certificate in Marriage and Family therapy from Washington University in St. Louis. Stack is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist (LMFT) and approved Missouri State supervisor, Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC) and approved Missouri State supervisor, National Board Certified Counselor (NBCC), Certified Reciprocal Advanced Alcohol Drug Counselor (CRAADC), and holds Clinical Status and Approved Supervisor Status in the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy (AAMFT). Stack promotes Wellness as a clinician, author and speaker, and has designed and implemented a Wellness clinical assessment instrument. He and his wife P.J., who is retired as a Board Certified Art Therapist (ATR-BC) and Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW), enjoy their daughters and nine-year-old granddaughter.

Email: stackpa@webster.edu (non-confidential)

Samantha Sipple

Samantha Sipple

Assistant Director of Counseling and Life Development

Samantha Sipple, MSW, LCSW, DBT-LBC, (she/her/hers) is the Assistant Director of Counseling/Life Development and serves as the Sexual Offense Advocate for Webster University. Sipple received her B.A. in Psychology with a minor in gender and sexuality studies from Rhodes College in Memphis, TN, and her MSW with a mental health concentration from the George Warren Brown School of Social Work at Washington University in St. Louis, MO. Sipple is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW) and member of the National Association of Social Workers (NASW). She is a nationally rostered Trauma-Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapist (TF-CBT) and has been trained in a variety of evidence-based practices including (but not limited to) Prolonged Exposure Therapy (PE), Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) and Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT). Sipple's clinical interests include acute and complex trauma, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), self-injurious and suicidal behavior. In her spare time, Sipple enjoys hiking, biking, camping, and traveling with her family.

Email: samanthasipple86@webster.edu (non-confidential)

Laurel Hayes

Laurel Hayes

Laurel Hayes (she/her/hers) is a graduate student in Webster University’s Counseling program, concentrating in Clinical Mental Health. Hayes has spent most of her career in higher education-related settings. Much of her prior work has encouraged people to reflect on the deeper meaning of their lives, and to listen for the voice of wisdom within themselves. Hayes prefers mindfulness-informed therapeutic approaches, such as Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT). If clients wish, she welcomes exploration of the spiritual dimensions of the issues they bring to counseling. Hayes' professional interests include grief (for both personal and societal losses), individuation (finding one’s own voice and place within one’s family and community), and study/work/life congruence and balance. In her free time, Hayes enjoys reading, writing, singing, walking, and spending time (even virtually) with friends and family.

Email: Hayesl@webster.edu (non-confidential)

Emergency Counseling

The following professional associations offer emergency counseling.

Four racially diverse students sit together and converse with a laptop in front of them.

Emergency Assistance

Four racially diverse students sit together and converse with a laptop in front of them.

Webster University is committed to helping our students through unexpected financial hardships. Emergency aid, including loans, grants, tuition adjustments/waivers, food assistance, and funds for textbooks and technology, is available to students enrolled at campuses in the St. Louis metropolitan area.