Counseling Services

The goal of counseling program is to facilitate each student’s development and growth throughout their Prep career.

To this end, the counseling program works in partnership with parents, teachers and administrators in the formation of a "well rounded person who is intellectually competent, open to growth, religious, loving and committed to doing justice in generous service to the people of God" (Father Peter Hans Kolvenbach, SJ cited in Go Forth and Teach: The Characteristics of Jesuit Education,1986).

Guidance Period

Periodically the counselors will be meeting with students during their advisory period. Within the context of the principles of Jesuit education, these meetings will provide an opportunity for students to learn about a variety of topics such as: making a successful transition to the Prep; organizational and study skills; getting involved in extracurricular activities; making new friends; an introduction to the ACT, PSAT, and SAT tests; and College Admissions Counseling. 

Students may also meet with their counselor in a small group setting. These meetings will provide students with the opportunity to become more familiar with the counseling program at the Prep and to discuss about a variety of topics such as adjusting to the Prep, getting involved, common concerns, study strategies, etc.


St. Joe’s Prep Counselors focus on the academics of student life but also the social and behavioral needs of our students. More than ever, counselors need to examine their practices to better serve the needs of today’s student. The Prep uses outside speakers each year to help examine topics such as: depression, anxiety, suicide, sexual assault, drug and alcohol abuse. 

Yearly Presentations

Each presentation is followed up with an in depth reflection shared between our students and counselors. These meetings occur in the classroom and provide freedom for Prep students to express their concerns, opinions and thoughts. 

The Prep takes great efforts to keep qualified mental health practitioners on staff. All of our counselors have doctorates in Psychology and work with our students individually, make referrals when necessary and prioritize their emotional well-being.

Individual Meetings

Counselors are available to meet with students on an individual basis. The purpose of the meeting is to gather information about a student’s academic progress, extracurricular activities, social interests and family life, and to provide support to that student. Individual appointments can be scheduled by the student or counselor. Students are strongly encouraged to meet with their counselor to discuss any concerns or questions they may have and they are welcome to drop by just to talk. Parents are also invited to contact their son’s counselor with any questions or concerns they may have.

National Honor Society (NHS) Tutoring

The Center for Learning (CFL) has NHS tutors scheduled throughout the day. Referrals should be made to Esther Auerbach at Otherwise, students can walk into the CFL during their lunch or free periods.

Additional Services

Catapult Learning is company who provides services through Act 89. These services are provided free of charge. This year we are very fortunate to have the following three individuals on staff from Catapult:

    • Esther Auerbach, M.Ed, Certified School Counselor, LPC
    • Penny Reiff, MA, Certified School Counselor
    • Vincent Santoro

Below is an outline of the services offered by Catapult:

    • Learning Assessments - screenings to determine cognitive and achievement abilities. If results indicate a possible learning issue, student will be referred for a full psycho-educational evaluation by Catapult’s school psychologist. This process may lead to the approval for accommodations such as extended time.
    • Study Skills/Time Management Support - To encourage success in execution and planning in academics.
    • Individual Counseling - Provide one-to-one counseling support for students experiencing social/emotional difficulties affecting success in the school environment.
    • Counseling Groups - as needed
    • Developmental Guidance - Works directly with Prep counseling department to present information on topics including anxiety, depression, test prep, and organizational skills.

If you would prefer that Catapult Services not work with your son, please read this document and return to his counselor.

Substance Abuse Awareness and Prevention Program

Our Drug and Alcohol Awareness and Prevention Program is a joint effort between the Counseling Department and the Deans Office. The goal is to properly educate students so that they are aware of the realities behind substance use and abuse. A testing component is involved as well. The Dean's office randomly tests students of all grades. This policy exists to detract students from using, identify those in need and provide a valid excuse to those students who don't wish to use but are susceptible to peer pressure.

The counseling department is available to discuss issues surrounding drugs and alcohol. They are aware of the pressures present in the lives of adolescents. They are personally trained to help and have resources at our disposal to help our students regardless of their level of concern.  

Our dedication to education is fulfilled through individual conversation, classroom guidance, small group work and yearly speakers devoted to help arm our students with information vital to proper decision making.

Counselor Assignments

Students are assigned to counselors alphabetically by last name per counselor:

  • Dr. John Berna - A-D
  • Dr. Stew Barbera '86 - E-K
  • Dr. Bill Gillespie -L-P
  • Br. Bob Carson, SJ - Q-Z
St. Joseph's Preparatory School
1733 West Girard Avenue Philadelphia, PA 19130
tel: 215.978.1950
fax: 215.765.1710
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