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).

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

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.


The Prep makes great efforts to have qualified educational and mental health professionals on staff. Prep Counselors are experienced practitioners who work with our students individually, prioritize their emotional well-being, and make referrals for additional support services when appropriate.

Dr. John Berna
Ph.D. School Psychology
Licensed Psychologist, Certified School Psychologist, Certified School Neuropsychologist
Prep counselor since 1996
Former Chief Psychologist, Cora Services

Dr. Stewart Barbera
Psy D. Clinical Psychology, MSW Social Work
Licensed Psychologist
Prep counselor since 1997
Former Therapist, Springfield Psychological Associates

Dr. William Gillsepie
Psy D. Clinical Psychology, MS Counseling
Certified Counselor
Prep counselor since 2004
Former School Counselor, Bishop Eustice HS

Bro. Robert Carson
Prep counselor since 2015
Former Director of Counseling and Assistant Principal, Wildwood Catholic High School

While the Prep Counselors focus on academic performance, they also address the social, emotional, and behavioral needs of our students. It is essential that counselors regularly examine their practices and stay actively engaged in professional development, training, and certification in order to better serve the needs of our students.

In addition to individual counseling counselors also work with students in groups. The Prep uses outside professional speakers to help students examine topics such as: depression, anxiety, suicide, sexual assault, drug and alcohol abuse.

Generally, presentations are followed up with a reflection shared between our students and counselors. These meetings occur in the classroom or other venues and provide the freedom for Prep students to express their concerns, opinions and thoughts.

Guidance Presentations

Periodically the counselors will meet with students during their advisory or community periods. 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; making healthy choices, dealing with pressure, 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.

National Honor Society (NHS) Tutoring

The Center for Learning (CFL) has NHS tutors scheduled throughout the day. Referrals should be made to the student's counselor and/or students can walk into the CFL during their lunch or free periods.

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.

Additional Services

Additional support is offered by Catapult Learning. These services are accessed via referral by the Prep Counselors and require parental consent.

Services include:

  • Learning Assessments
  • Counseling
  • Psychoeducational Evaluations
  • Speech and Language Assessments and Therapy

Parents should contact their son’s Prep Counselor for information about these services. Reminder: Students are assigned to the Prep Counselors alphabetically by the student’s last name

  • Dr. John Berna - A-D
  • Dr. Stew Barbera - E-K
  • Dr. Bill Gillespie -L-P
  • Br. Bob Carson - 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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