Information for Faculty, Administrators, Coaches, and Staff
Your Role as Faculty/Staff
Faculty and staff members play a vital role in identifying students who may benefit from the services provided by the Counseling Center. Students will often turn to trusted teachers, coaches, and supervisors for informal advice and support. Although you are not expected to provide counseling, it may be helpful for you to become familiar with signs that indicate a student is having difficulties of an emotional or psychological nature so you can respond effectively when students approach you with problems. This section is designed to help you to do the following:
- Become familiar with signs that indicate your student is having difficulties of an emotional or psychological nature;
- Learn how to respond effectively when your student approaches you with problems;
- Learn the steps for making an effective referral.
Signs of Distress
You should consider making a referral to the Counseling Center if you notice any of the following:
Changes in Academic Performance
- Poor academic performance, particularly if such behavior represents a change from the past
- Excessive absences from class
- Confusion or uncertainty about interests, abilities, or values
- Listlessness, lack of energy, complaints about fatigue
- Marked changes in personal hygiene
- Impaired speech or disjointed, confused thoughts
- Aggressive or threatening behavior
- Extreme mood changes or inappropriate display of emotions
- Excessive crying
- Dramatic weight loss or gain
- Preoccupation with food or body image
- Bizarre behavior indicating a loss of contact with reality
Changes in Relationships
- Death of a family member or close friend
- Difficulties in romantic relationships
- Problems with family members, friends, or roommates
References to Suicide
- Overt references to suicide or statements of hopelessness or helplessness
- Indications of prolonged unhappiness
- Pessimism about the future
Guidelines for Responding
- Initiate contact with a student about whom you are concerned; please don’t ignore strange or inappropriate behavior.
- Express your concern and caring and indicate the specific behaviors that are the cause for your concern.
- Talk to your student in private when you both have enough time for a conversation.
- Use “I” language that focuses on what you have observed.
- Listen attentively, observing nonverbal as well as verbal responses.
- Avoid being critical or judgmental.
- Encourage positive action by helping the student define the problem and generate coping strategies; avoid the temptation to solve the problem.
- Ask directly how you can best help them.
- Know your limits as a help-giver. When a student needs more help than you are able or willing to give, consider making a referral to the Counseling Center or other mental health agency.
- Please refrain from making a diagnosis or specific recommendation for treatment (e.g., “you should be taking medication,” “You sound like you have bipolar disorder.”)
Making a Referral
Many students are initially hesitant about seeking counseling. When you have decided that professional counseling is indicated, tell the student directly and clearly why you are making the referral.
Counseling is provided to all students enrolled in a degree program. Each student may have up to 15 individual counseling sessions per academic year. If a student has difficulties that cannot be adequately addressed in this time frame, we may suggest other resources that would be more appropriate.
All Counseling Center staff members have experience helping students with a wide range of concerns. Although we will do our best to honor a student’s preference to see a specific counselor, it may result in a longer wait time; therefore, it is preferable to refer students to the Counseling Center rather than to a specific counselor. You are welcome to call the Center and let us know that you have referred a student.
- Review information about the counseling process with students using the Counseling Center website. Emphasize that services are confidential and free.
- Offer to call the Counseling Center from your office or to let the student use your phone to do so. If you believe it is an emergency, you can accompany the student to the Center on the 2nd floor of Bailey Health Center.
- Walk-in hours for urgent concerns are available between 10am and 11am and 3pm and 4pm each day; students are seen on a first come, first served basis.
- You might suggest that the student attend one session before judging whether counseling is helpful or not. For those students who are hesitant, point out that using appropriate resources is a sign of strength and maturity.
- Except in the case of imminent danger to self or others, it is important to allow the student to refuse counseling.
If at any time you become concerned that the student is in immediate danger of harming himself or herself or someone else, you should call the Office of Public Safety at x4444. You may also contact members of the College’s Behavioral Health and Safety Review Committee who can respond to students who are in distress and/or are behaving in a manner that suggests they might pose a danger to themselves or others. The Committee is chaired by the Dean of Students (x5335) and is comprised of the directors of Health, Counseling, and Residence Life and the associate deans of the College.
Counseling Center staff members are required by law and by professional codes of ethics to protect the confidentiality of all contacts with students. The only exceptions occur in cases of imminent danger to self or others or direct reports of child abuse. Without a student’s permission we can discuss neither the content of counseling sessions nor the fact that they are a client of the Counseling Center. These requirements are in effect even when a faculty/staff member has made the original referral to the Center. However, if the student gives his or her permission, we are happy to speak with members of the faculty or staff.
If you have any questions about the services offered by the Center, please feel free to call (610) 330-5005 and request to speak with a counselor.
For those students who wish to seek counseling from an off-campus mental health professional, we offer a referral guide for psychologists in the Lehigh Valley.
Students who are interested in receiving an evaluation for medication are encouraged to consult with the physicians in the Bailey Health Center who coordinate appointments with a consulting psychiatrist.
A number of career and psychological tests are offered to students at no charge. The Counseling Center does not provide testing for learning disabilities.
Monday-Friday: 8:45am-5pm; closed from noon-1pm
To make an appointment, please call 610.330.5005 or stop by the second floor of the Bailey Health Center on the corner of McCartney and High Streets.
In the case of a psychological emergency where there is the possibility that a student's health or safety is at risk, please contact Public Safety at 610.330.4444 for assistance.