The Peterson Counseling Center

At the Student Health Center

Student Counseling Services

The Peterson Counseling Center (PCC) provides free, confidential services for Ringling students, including brief individual and group counseling; emergency psychological services; consultation with home and community providers for students with specialized or long-term needs that require specialized off-campus treatment; and outreach and educational programming. The PCC also offers psychological consultation to students, faculty, and staff as well as parents and families who are concerned about a student.

Individual and Group Counseling

We offer several counseling services including short-term one-on-one sessions with a counselor or meeting in a small group. Many students meet with a counselor sporadically throughout their college years as particular concerns arise.
Typical concerns students discuss in personal counseling include:

  • Adjusting to college
  • Coping with stress
  • Confusion, anxiety, or depression
  • Dealing with fears
  • Family Concerns
  • Loneliness
  • Romantic concerns
  • Balancing academics and social needs
  • Self-destructive use of alcohol or drugs
  • Loss of a relationship
  • Understanding one’s sexuality or gender identity
  • Exploring career choice
  • Personal trauma such as sexual assault
    Illness, death of a friend or family member

Small groups of students are occasionally formed for mutual support and shared learning, for example, First Year and Non-Traditional Student Support Groups, Art Therapy, and Depression/Anxiety. Students are encouraged to contact the Counseling Center to find out about more specific groups. For students who come to college with a significant history of mental health needs or otherwise decide they require more frequent, more specialized, or longer-term services that our counseling center can provide, we are happy to work with students to help them find a therapist in the community.

Educational Programs and Workshops

Workshops are designed to help students learn skills to cope with the stress of living in a fast-paced, competitive world. Examples include Stress Management, Assertiveness Training, Positive Body Image, and Healthy Relationships. Please also visit the SAPHIRE Program and Mindful Campus sections below for additional information about outreach programming on campus.


Occasionally students, faculty, and staff have a concern about the behavior of a student and would like to consult with a professional about what might be done to help the individual. The Counseling Center staff is available to provide assistance and when appropriate explore ways to make an effective referral.

Mindful Campus

The Ringling College Mindful Campus Program is committed to helping our community become more centered and less stressed and to working towards improving well-being through the execution of Mindfulness.

Mindfulness is a mental state achieved by intentionally focusing one’s awareness and attention on the present moment, while gently and non-judgmentally acknowledging and accepting one’s feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations. Practicing mindfulness can be extremely effective for improving both mental and physical health and overall well–being.


Mindful Drop-In Sessions

Drop-in sessions are offered to staff and faculty throughout the semester. If you would like to take part in this initiative, a health and wellness staff member will come to a classroom or meeting and lead a 5-10 minute experiential mindfulness exercise. Please email or call 941-893-2855 with any questions or to make a request.

Wellness To Go

Join us in Scott Plaza for some tea, and other goodies that support wellness, time to de-stress, and to learn some ways to integrate mindfulness into your daily life. Mindful Campus Wellness To Go happens once a month over the lunch hour in Scott Plaza. Keep an eye out for portal announcements for more information and dates for these events. If you have any questions about this program please feel free to email the Counseling Center.

Mindfulness Tips

Get started with your own mindful practice using these tips:

  • Stay focused on the here and now. By focusing on the here and now, mindful practice will help you be less likely to get caught up in worries about the future or regrets over the past, less preoccupied, and become better able to form deep connections.
  • Go with the flow. In mindfulness meditation, once you establish concentration, you observe the flow of inner thoughts, emotions, and bodily sensations without judging them as good or bad.
  • Pay attention to your senses. Notice external sensations such as sounds, sights, and touch that make up your moment-to-moment experience. Focusing on your sensory experiences will help ground you in the moment that you are in and keep you attentive to and present in your environment.
  • Allow each moment’s experience to come and go. There is no need to hold onto any particular mental experience, idea, emotion, or sensation, or to get caught in thinking about the past or the future. Instead, you watch what comes and goes in your mind, and discover which mental habits produce a feeling of well-being or suffering.
  • Gently notice and redirect. If your mind wanders into planning, daydreaming, or criticism, notice where it has gone and gently redirect it to sensations in the present.
  • Keep at it. At times, this process may not seem relaxing at all, but over time it provides a key to greater happiness and self-awareness as you become comfortable with an increasingly wider range of your experiences.
  • Start small: Making any change in your life can be difficult, especially when you already have your own routine. Start by practicing mindfulness for five minutes per day or during any daily activity like washing the dishes or taking a shower. The beauty of mindfulness is that you don’t judge yourself if you miss a day or opportunity to practice. Just gently notice your thoughts and feelings and try again!
  • Practice Acceptance. Most importantly, mindfulness practice involves actively accepting whatever you experience in any given moment. Acceptance of your experiences is not the same as approval of them; it is the idea that you stop fighting what you experience so that you can participate in your life. This practice will help you to be more kind and forgiving toward yourself and will help you cope with whatever comes your way.
    Do Yoga. Yoga is a great way to utilize the principles of mindfulness and improve the connection between your body and your mind, while also getting exercise.

    If you want to learn more about mindful practice or you would like a place to discuss with a counselor how mindfulness can help you, please contact the Peterson Counseling Center by phone at 941-893-2855 or email


SAPHIRE: Sexual Assault Prevention and Healthy Intimate Relationship Education

What is SAPHIRE?
Ringling College’s Sexual Assault Prevention and Healthy Intimate Relationship Education (SAPHIRE) program is based on a wellness prevention model of sexual assault and other gender based violence/discrimination.

SAPHIRE helps to educate the Ringling College of Art and Design campus community about resources for students who have been victims/survivors of sexual assault or other gender based discrimination, for bystanders and secondary survivors, and for any student or staff member who wants to learn more about how to develop healthy intimate relationships. The program helps to:

  1. Educate the College community
  2. Spread awareness about sexual assault
  3. Empower the student body to be proactive bystanders
  4. Create a campus climate that promotes healthy relationship behaviors and interpersonal effectiveness

We are here to help

Whether you experienced a trauma in childhood, while in college, know someone who has been victimized, have experienced any gender based discrimination, or are having difficulty in your relationships, we are here to collaboratively support you through your recovery. It is incredibly common to experience self-blame, guilt, anxiety, depression, and feel isolated during and following these difficult experiences. We want you to know you are not alone in whatever way you are struggling. The Peterson Counseling Center is a confidential resource that is here to support you and can also be helpful in discussing your options. Talking with a counselor is not the same as filing an incident report with any other staff member and there will be no follow-up investigation. Call us at 941-893-2855 to set up an appointment. For more information on filing a Title IX incident report please contact Student Life or the College’s Title IX Coordinator.

Annual Programming and Events

SAPHIRE sponsors several campus events and programs throughout the year to provide education and spread awareness. Make sure to complete your Title IX training during orientation week. Stop by Scott Plaza for our RAINN Day community art project in September, Coming Out Day in October, or our Be Informed Lunch and Learn Presentation Series each November. SAPHIRE is just as active in the Spring. Attend Missing Your Mate in February for a program specifically designed for students dealing with the stress of a long distance relationship. We will have lots of goodies for you to send your partner a care package too. Keep a look out for trans awareness programing in March and several programs throughout the month of April for Sexual Assault Awareness Month.

Make sure to watch for Portal Announcements for specific details about the times and locations of our SAPHIRE events, or email the Counseling Center for more information.

Mission Statement

Peterson Counseling Center Mission Statement

The Peterson Counseling Center (PCC) believes that good health is essential for achieving educational objectives and supporting the quality of our students’ educational experience. The Counseling Center strives to enhance the well-being of students by working with students’ families, home providers, community therapists and off-campus providers or specialists, and other campus departments to provide emotional support, impart life skills, and encourage self-reflection. Our purpose is to empower students to navigate their way through the world as individuals with both greater autonomy and effectiveness, and the skills to manage their personal and mental health needs during and after college. We work to create a safe environment that is inclusive and welcoming of all students. We strive to continue to develop relevant expertise, make substantive contributions to the field, and to serve as consultants to the greater campus, promoting an informed, prepared, and safe community.

Commitment to Respect for Differences

The staff of the PCC is committed to delivering professional services that respect both individual differences and our common humanity. Our professional guidelines and personal values call us to recognize prejudice, privilege, and discrimination in all of its forms including but not limited to gender identity, race, ethnicity, culture, religion, sexual orientation, disability status, socioeconomic status, and more, and to become aware of the effects on individuals and groups to which those individuals belong. We seek to apply this commitment in all of our professional activities and to support the growth of communities that work better for everyone.

Our mission is closely aligned with The larger Office of Student Life, which provides a variety of programs and services designed to promote the artistic development, academic success, personal growth, and overall well-being of the student body, and aims to support the broader mission of Ringling College, which “Through its policies and practices, supports excellence in teaching and fosters the aesthetic, intellectual, professional, personal, and social development of its students.”


Forms and Documentation

Learning Disabilities and Other Documentation

The staff at the Ringling College Health Center including counseling, medical services, and psychiatry is generally not able to provide assessment and documentation of learning disabilities or assessment of student functioning. Students seeking to substantiate self-reports of conditions which interfere with academic performance, receive documentation of mandated treatment required by courts, or receive approval for study abroad should seek evaluation from a training professional off-campus. Receiving services from PCC or SMH will not lead to accommodations or other services, even if you disclose a qualifying disability. If you have a disability or feel your difficulties may be symptoms of a disability, visit Student Access Services on the second floor of the Goldstein Library or email Student Access Services are available to anyone with a documented condition that interferes with classes, coursework or activities on campus, and accommodations can only be arranged through the Student Access Coordinator.


The following professionals would generally be considered qualified to conduct evaluations provided that they have additional training and experience in evaluating adolescents and adults with learning disabilities: clinical or educational psychologists; school psychologists; neuropsychologists; learning disabilities specialists; and medical doctors with demonstrated training and experience in the assessment of learning disabilities in adolescents and adults. You may consult with your home provider, your insurance provider, or contact us for a list of community resources to locate a trained professional to provide a thorough assessment. If you have difficulty locating a provider to meet your individual needs please contact us and we would be happy to schedule a consultation to assist you.


Psychiatry and Psychopharmacological Referrals

While classes are in session, we have a psychiatrist available for limited hours several times a month in the on-campus Health Center.


For students interested in exploring medication as an option to help with short- or long-term mental health concerns, they can contact the counseling center to set up a REQUIRED REFERRAL appointment with a college counseling center staff member. Transferring prescriptions from a home psychiatrist is welcomed, through a referral from one of our mental health counselors is required in all cases.


For students with existing prescriptions, or those who are receiving continued care from home providers which many students continue to do, please let your therapist know so all providers may communicate. By working as a team with your existing provider, we are able to provide the most complete service and ensure a higher continuity of care for you. If you are receiving medication, please continue to stay in contact with your existing provider regularly via phone and during breaks as possible for medication management, and let your therapist know about any changes to your medication.

Off-Campus Referrals

Off-campus referrals for local psychiatrists can also be provided upon request for students requiring more specialized treatment. Controlled substance prescriptions are not prescribed by the psychiatrist on site. Our goal is to help support your total health and long-term success. Students with ADHD diagnoses or other disorders requiring controlled substances should ensure they have a complete learning evaluation (which includes 4-6 hours of testing) from an off-campus psychologist within the past three years (a diagnosis from a GP is not sufficient). The counseling center can be helpful in providing lists of local psychologists who provide such testing. If you are being prescribed medication of any kind please ensure that your medication is locked up when unattended and remains in the original containers at all times.

Community Providers

If there is a need for an off-campus mental health provider in the community, Peterson Counseling Center staff can assist with providing referrals.

Hours and Contact Information


Please feel free to email us for non-urgent scheduling. To convey personal information, please call 941-893-2855 during regular business hours or come into the Counseling Center Monday-Friday from 8:30 am-4:30 pm to set a time for an intake session. Students will typically be seen by a counselor within a few days. Students in crisis may be seen as soon as possible for a safety check and scheduled for counseling.

Contact Info

The Peterson Counseling Center is located at 2712 Bradenton Road in the new Health Center.
941-893-2855 phone
941-359-4854 fax


Hours of operation are Monday-Friday from 8:30 am-4:30 pm.
We are closed weekends and during official College Holidays.

Mailing Address

Ringling College of Art and Design
Peterson Counseling Center
2700 North Tamiami Trail
Sarasota, Florida 34234

Emergency Contact Info

Email and voicemail are NOT for confidential or time-sensitive information and staff accounts may not be checked on a daily basis; if you need emergency assistance, please call Public Safety at 941-359-7500, or contact local law enforcement using 911. While the College does not provide 24/7 counseling services, in cases of mental health emergencies such as those involving danger of death or harm to self and others the Office of Public Safety is able to reach a Student Life staff member who can assist in making a determination about further evaluation.

Guide for Parents

Guide for Parents

Parents can be a wonderful support system for their student throughout the college years. Ringling College of Art and Design strives to provide enough support to match and meet the challenges that come with collegiate life. The Peterson Counseling Center was established to ensure student's emotional well being and personal growth.


Read below for information regarding confidentiality and resources specially tailored for parents of our students.

Confidentiality and Parents

Confidentiality is an essential part of any counseling relationship. The counseling center staff adheres to the ethical standards of their respective professions and to state and federal laws relating to confidentiality. These standards and laws prevent us from speaking with concerned parents about their student’s contact with the center unless we have the student’s written permission. Thus, unless your student gives us written permission, we cannot acknowledge whether your student has been seen at the center or is making progress in counseling. The only exceptions occur when a student is under 18 years of age, when we are concerned that a student is clearly and imminently suicidal, when we learn of ongoing child abuse, or when we are ordered to release confidential information by a court of law.


Many students prefer to keep their counseling completely private, and such privacy is typically vital for successful counseling. Assuming your student is, however, willing to have one of their counselors discuss her or his participation in counseling with you — one good way to arrange for this is by asking your student to have the counselor call you during a counseling session. The counselor will then have your student complete and sign the necessary form, and may call you using a speaker telephone, so that all concerned can participate in the conversation. Note that, in general, counseling is best served if everything parents have to share with their student’s counselor is also shared with their student.


Even if your student doesn’t give their counselor permission to provide information to you, you may choose to contact a counselor to share your concerns. Such contact may make sense, for example, if you are concerned that your student is in serious danger. Note, however, that the counselor will not be able to even acknowledge knowing your student, and that the counselor will want to discuss any information you provide with your student.

Resources for Parents

The following is a list of books for parents that focus on students' transition from home to college and changes for parents throughout the college years.


Student transition from home to college

  • Almost Grown: Launching Your Child from High School to College by Patricia Pasick
  • College of the Overwhelmed: The Campus Mental Health Crisis and What to Do About It by Richard Kadison
  • Don’t Tell Me What to Do, Just Send Money by Helen E. Johnson
  • The Launching Years: Strategies for Parenting from Senior to College Life by Laura Kastner Ph.D and Jennifer Wyatt Ph.D.
  • Letting Go: A Parents' Guide to Understanding the College Years by Karen Levin Coburn and Madge Lawrence Treeger
  • When Kids Go to College: A Parent's Guide to Changing Relationships by Barbara M. Newman and Philip R.Newman
  • When Your Kid Goes to College: A Parent's Survival Guide by Carol Barkin
  • You're On Your Own (But I'm Here if You Need Me): Mentoring Your Child During the College Years by Marjorie Savage


Changes for Parents throughout college years

  • Transition to College: Separation and Change for Parents and Students by Robin F. Goodman, Ph.D., New York University Child Study Center
  • Transition to College Stresses Parents and Kids by Emily Hagedorn, The Detroit News
  • Mothers and Their Adult Daughters: Mixed Emotions, Enduring Bonds by Karen Fingerman, Ph.D.
  • Empty Nest ... Full Heart: The Journey from Home to College by Andrea Van Steenhouse
  • How to Survive and Thrive in an Empty Nest: Reclaiming your Life when Your Children Have Grown by Jeanette C. Lauer and Robert H. Lauer
  • Operating Instructions: A Journal of My Son's First Year by Anne Lamott
  • She's Leaving Home: Letting Go as a Daughter Goes to College by Connie Jones
  • The Empty Nest: When Children Leave Home by Shelley Bovey
  • When You're Facing the Empty Nest: Avoiding Midlife Meltdown When Your Child Leaves Home by Mary Ann Froehlich

Emergency Care

Crisis Intervention

The Counseling Center provides 24-hour Crisis Intervention Services throughout the academic year. The Counseling Center's Clinical Staff provides emergency services to students who are experiencing acute emotional distress, are a danger to themselves or others, or require immediate intervention or hospitalization. In an emergency, the student should contact their Resident Assistant, Associate Dean of Residence Life, Administrator on Duty, or Public Safety at 941-359-7500.

Sarasota Area Inpatient Mental Health Facilities

If you or someone you know is in immediate danger of harming themselves please call 911 or visit the local Emergency Room. ER staff after providing an assessment can facilitate transport to Bayside Center for Behavioral Health inpatient unit. For a free clinical assessment, you may also contact Bayside directly at 941-917-7760 or visit their website for more information. Coastal Behavioral Health Care, Inc. provides similar services.