Healthy Relationships: Resources for Faculty and Staff

Greg Vander Wal

about the AUTHOR

Dr. Greg Vander Wal is the executive director of The University of Alabama Counseling Center and a licensed psychologist. Vander Wal has over a decade of experience in collegiate mental health services.

Welcome to spring 2024! As students are returning to campus and catching up with their friends and classmates, they may be challenged with relationship dynamics and need support.

All relationships deserve to be healthy, whether they are with friends, colleagues, peers or significant others. Healthy relationships thrive with open communication, respect and kindness.

As we move into the spring semester, we want to empower you to help reinforce healthy relationship behaviors for our students and campus community and remind you of the resources available to support anyone in our community who may be in an unhealthy relationship.

 As a reminder, signs of healthy relationships include:

  • comfortable pace
  • honesty
  • respect
  • kindness
  • healthy conflict
  • trust
  • independence
  • equality
  • taking responsibility
  • fun

While ideally all relationships would be defined by these healthy characteristics, sometimes unhealthy relationship behaviors can creep in. It is essential to know what is unhealthy in the context of a relationship. Some unhealthy relationship signs include:

  • intensity
  • manipulation
  • sabotage
  • guilting
  • deflecting responsibility
  • possessiveness
  • isolation
  • belittling
  • volatility
  • betrayal

Relationships take work and thrive with effective communication. If you or one of your peers or students need support with an unhealthy relationship or would like to learn more about enhancing your already healthy relationships, our campus has many resources to support our campus community.

Campus Resources

The Women and Gender Resource Center – The WGRC provides free, confidential and voluntary counseling and advocacy services to members of the UA community who are victims/survivors of interpersonal violence. Alongside individual counseling, the WGRC also hosts the Breaking Free support group. This group is inclusive and non-judgmental and covers topics of boundaries, assertiveness and healthy relationships. To schedule a one-on-one appointment with a therapist or to learn more about the Breaking Free support group, call the WGRC at 205-348-5040.

The Counseling Center – The Counseling Center helps University of Alabama students, both undergraduate and graduate, achieve academic success through a variety of counseling services. Currently enrolled UA students looking for resources on healthy relationships can join the Counseling Center’s Mind Matter’s workshop series on healthy relationships or learn about healthy vs. unhealthy relationships and relationship myths on the Counseling Center’s website. Students wishing to speak to a therapist at the Counseling Center should call 205-348-3863 to schedule a screening or a 30-minute same-day phone consultation. 

The Office of Title IX – The Office of the Title IX Coordinator, a part of Equal Opportunity and Title IX Programs, receives and investigates reports of prohibited conduct and assists students and employees with supportive measures. Reports can be made directly to the Title IX office on the UAct website or anonymously online at the EthicsPoint hotline. If you have an immediate safety concern, please contact UAPD at 205-348-5454 or call 911.

Employee Assistance Program – Starting Jan. 1, the University’s Employee Assistance Program will be transitioning to GuidanceResources by ComPsych. This new EAP service offers emotional support, work-life, legal, financial, online support, CCBT self-care and crisis support all for free.

Informal Resolution Services – The University offers Informal Resolution Services, which offers help with workplace conflict resolution? These services will:

  1. Provide a respectful, confidential and impartial space for individuals to discuss concerns.
  2. Help to clarify issues and interests, identify goals and develop a range of options for resolution.
  3. Coach individuals on how to manage a difficult situation or engage in a difficult conversation.
  4. Conduct mediations/facilitated conversations between individuals in conflict.
  5. Offer trainings on conflict resolution skills and practical tools.