Counseling Center

The Center provides individual and group counseling to SAU students and consultation to faculty and staff. The Center provides a confidential, supportive and collaborative environment for open discussion of personal issues. We work towards making positive changes to one's thoughts, feelings, relationships, behavior/life situation.

For an appointment, please contact Debbie Gerdes by email or by phone at 563-333-6423. She will schedule a 15-minute intake call to initiate services.


What We Provide

  • Free, confidential counseling for students
  • Consultation for faculty and staff
  • Individual and family counseling
  • Substance abuse screening and referral
  • Referral to appropriate medical, psychiatric, or psychological services when needed
  • Available to students for group interaction/interaction regarding areas of expressed concern
  • Psycho-educational programming

If you prefer to receive professional counseling off campus, we will be happy to refer you to or identify appropriate agencies, centers or private practitioners.

Confidentiality and Rights

Confidentiality and Privacy

Federal and state laws along with professional ethical standards prohibit the disclosure of any information you provide us unless we have your proper written consent. Thus, if a St. Ambrose University official or your parents or anyone else should inquire about your receiving services here, we would not be able to disclose any information about you without your written permission. Having said that, there are a few exceptions to the confidentiality laws and standards, as follows:

  • If your counselor believes that you or someone else is in clear and imminent danger of harm, your counselor is legally obligated to inform proper authorities and others in order to prevent the harm from occurring. This information would be disclosed only to appropriate professional workers, necessary university and public authorities, a potential victim of aggression or the client's family.
  • If you provide information indicating that someone under 18 years old is being abused, your counselor is legally required to notify proper authorities.
  • In rare cases, a court may order your counselor to disclose information about you.
  • If you are under 17 ½ years old, your parents or legal guardian may have access to your treatment records.
  • When the client requires hospitalization for severe psychological problems, suicidal ideations or attempt, or other life threatening issue. In these instances, the counselor must notify the client's parents or spouse, the Dean of Students, and, if the client lives in a residence hall, appropriate members of the residence life staff. Only relevant, limited and necessary information will be shared with these individuals, who are always notified whenever a serious medical emergency arises with a student.

In the preceding situations, the counselor will, whenever possible first discuss the disclosure of information with the client. The counselor will provide reasons why the disclosure is appropriate and necessary and will attempt to secure the client's permission to release information. The client and counselor may jointly be involved in sharing the information.  However, should the client fail to give permission, the counselor will proceed to release the information without the client's consent. In some emergency situations, there may not be an opportunity to discuss disclosure of information with the client prior to the actual disclosure.

It is possible that at some point in the future you will be required by an outside agency or employer to sign a release allowing that agency or employer to review your treatment records. This may occur, for example if you apply for health and life insurance, or if you apply for licensure or certification in some professions, or if you apply for employment in agencies that require a security clearance. In any of these situations, the counselor will first make an attempt to contact you regarding what information you may want disclosed to the requesting party.

Client Rights

As a client, you have the following rights:

  1. To ask questions about your counselor's professional qualifications and experience.
  2. To be an active participant in decisions about counseling goals and strategies and to refuse any goals or strategies with which you do not agree.
  3. To review records in your file with your counselor. (Please note that only the counselor has access to your file, which contains notes by your counselor about the work you are doing together. Files are kept in a locked file cabinet and remain in the office at all times.)
  4. To have your counseling experience remain confidential within certain limits.
  5. To end counseling at any time.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the Counseling Center?
The Counseling Center is a resource for St. Ambrose students who are looking for help in resolving personal problems and learning about themselves and their relationships with others.

Where is the Counseling Center located?
The St. Ambrose University Counseling Center is located on the second floor of the Rogalski Center, adjacent to Health Services.

Is it confidential?
The Counseling Center maintains strict confidentiality. You do not need consent or pre-approval from anyone to receive services. The center operates independently of faculty or administrative offices, although we partner closely with many SAU offices. With certain caveats, no information can be released to anyone without your signed consent.

How do I make an appointment?
Appointments can be made by calling 333-6423 or in person at the Counseling Center reception area on the second floor of the Rogalski Center.

What does it cost?
Counseling services are free to all St. Ambrose University students.

Will I have to wait?
At certain times in the semester wait times can be as long as 3-4 weeks. Please let the counselor know during the screening if you would prefer to be referred off campus.

What kind of services do you provide?
Individual and couples counseling; consultation; substance abuse screening and referral. In addition, the Center provides referral to appropriate medical, psychiatric or psychological services when needed. We are also available to students for group presentations/interaction involving areas of expressed concern.

What kinds of issues do you deal with at the Counseling Center?
The following list indicates examples of some of the situations the Counseling Center deals with: relationships with others, stress management, anxiety issues, family relationships, loneliness, couples conflict, sexuality issues, depression, problem habits or behaviors, alcohol or drug screening, and academic and social adjustment.

If I come to the Counseling Center, does it mean something is wrong with me?
On the contrary; from time to time all of us experience difficulties in our daily lives. When these difficulties occur, they can sometimes become stumbling blocks that affect our relationships with others or prevent us from realizing our abilities, potential and goals. The Counseling Center is staffed with licensed, professional counselors who can be of assistance in sorting out issues. The emphasis in counseling is not to provide pat answers or to make decisions for you. Rather, it is a cooperative effort that explores new insights or ways of thinking, alternatives, and possible new directions to improve your quality of life.

What if I am hesitant about coming for an appointment on my own? Is it appropriate for someone to accompany me?
Certainly. There have been situations where a friend, roommate, suitemate, Resident Advisor or Hall Director accompanies a student for their initial appointment.

What if I have a concern about a friend or suitemate? Can I seek the services of the Counseling Center for advice on that type of matter?
We are available for consultation. Consider approaching your Resident Advisor or Hall Director with your concerns. If you are worried about harm to self or others please contact Security immediately at 333-6104.


Dr. Sarah Oliver, LISW, LCSW, Director

Amber Dopler, Counselor
Miranda Dresing, Counselor
Debbie Gerdes, Office Support


Director Sarah E. Oliver, PhD, LISW, LCSW

Counseling Center
Rogalski Center, 2nd floor
518 W. Locust St.
Davenport, IA 52803

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