For Faculty and Staff: Guide for Student Referral and Consultation
(Adapted and modified, with permission, from the web pages of Bowling Green State University Counseling Center , Bowling Green, Ohio)
In an effort to facilitate the referral and consultation process, we offer the following guidelines for utilizing the Counseling Center's services and resources. Further details about the nature of our services can also be found on other pages throughout this web site.
If you are seeking information on how to refer a student to Disability Services rather than the Counseling Center, please see the Disability Services site for the appropriate information.
If you are a faculty or staff member seeking a counseling referral for yourself rather than a student, please see bottom of this page, Faculty and Staff Seeking Counseling .
Please note that you may also contact NDSU's Behavioral Intervention Team at firstname.lastname@example.org (please see decision tree link to the right) regarding a student of concern.
Scheduling An Appointment
- Individual and Group Counseling for NDSU students, free of charge.
- Location: 212 Ceres Hall
- Phone number: 701-231-7671.
- Hours during the school Year: M/W/F 8:00 a.m.-5:00 p.m. and T/Th 8:00 a.m.-7:00 p.m.
- Hours during summer and school breaks: M-F 7:30 a.m.-4:00 p.m.
When Referring a Student to the Counseling Center
Due to your role at the university, students in distress may sometimes turn to you for support, advice, and referral to other sources of help. You might also observe students who appear to be having difficulties and wonder how you might be able to reach out to them. Or, others might come to you expressing concerns about a student whose behavior is distressing or concerning to them. The following are intended as guidelines to help you decide when to refer; they are not hard and fast rules, and your personal and professional judgement will always come into play. However, you are not expected to be a counselor, and when in doubt about whether or not to make a referral, we encourage you to consult with our staff (please see below, Seeking Professional Consultation With Our Staff ).
Examples of student distress that do not necessarily, in and of themselves, suggest a referral to the Counseling Center:
- Discussion of a recent stressful event or situation
- Distress regarding a poor grade, financial aid denial, closed course, or other disappointment/frustration
- Normal distress in reaction to a recent upsetting event or loss
- Tearfulness due to any of the above circumstances
Examples of signs that a student may be experiencing more stress than he or she can handle, suggesting consideration of a referral to the Counseling Center or other source of assistance:
- Serious grade problems or a decline in the quality of work
- Extreme difficulty making decisions (classes to take, work hours, leisure time)
- Depression suggested by a sad expression, low motivation, change in eating and sleeping patterns, tearfulness, hopelessness
- Excessive worry, agitation, irritability, aggressiveness
- Strange behavior or speech
- Excessive contact with advisor or supervisor regarding worries or personal concerns
- Poor hygiene or drastic change in appearance
- Social isolation/lack of support system, particularly in the context of any of the above concerns
Emergency Situations Which Require an Immediate Referral:
- Expressions of suicidal thoughts and/or intent
- Expressions of violence toward others
- Severe loss of emotional control
- Bizarre behavior or gross impairment in thinking ability
Assisting Emotionally Troubled Students
Listed below are some tips that will help you to be a good listener, and may increase a student's willingness to accept a referral to the Counseling Center or other resources, if deemed necessary:
- Speak with the student in private if possible.
- Listen carefully.
- Show interest and concern.
- Respect the student's values and beliefs.
- Do not promise to keep a student disclosure in confidence when it relates to harm to self or others.
How to Refer a Student to the Counseling Center
Except in emergency situations, students are seen at the Counseling Center by appointment. Generally, students are offered an Initial Consultation session within a week of the student's request for services. During the initial consultation, we gather information from the student about what their difficulties are and assess what services might be most helpful for them. If they are interested in ongoing counseling, we would either recommend counseling here, or help them access an outside referral as appropriate. Following the Initial Consultation, a short delay may occur before ongoing counseling is scheduled (depending upon staff availability, demand for services, and the severity of the student's presenting problem). Please keep in mind that services at the Counseling Center are voluntary . Therefore, you may encourage or suggest that a student seek counseling, but it is ultimately the student's decision. In referring a student to our office, please take the following steps:
- Invite the student to call our office at 231-7671 to schedule an Initial Consultation appointment (you may wish to have the student schedule the appointment while still in your office).
- Alternatively, if you aware that the student already works with a counselor, either at our Center or another agency, it may be most helpful to suggest that the student arrange to see their ongoing counselor, and to offer assistance in contacting that counselor if appropriate.
- Consult with our staff when you think the student's circumstances may require an immediate (emergency) appointment. We will assist you in determining whether emergency intervention is warranted and talk with you about the specific arrangements that need to be made (for further information, see Crisis Situations below.
- You may wish to reassure the student that the staff at the Counseling Center are competent and well-trained professionals, and that the services are confidential.
- If you choose to provide the student with the specific names of counselors (to personalize your referral), please do not offer the student any guarantees about whom he or she will see. Let the student know that that particular staff person may not be available for either the initial consultation session or for ongoing counseling.
- Please inform the student that ongoing counseling (if offered) may be provided by a person other than the counselor providing the Initial Consultation.
- You may find it helpful to provide the student with a copy of our office's informational brochure or our web address, and to discuss the range of services available (e.g., mentioning that we offer classes and group therapy as well as individual counseling).
Feel free to give us any information that you believe would be important for us to know in working with the student; however, please keep in mind that even if you are the initial person who refers the student here, services at the Counseling Center are confidential and we are not at liberty to provide you with any follow-up information, including whether or not the student showed up for the appointment, what was discussed during their session, or whether or not they will be receiving ongoing counseling. You will need to follow up directly with the student for any such information.
Student Crises During Office Hours
Students in crisis will be seen as soon as possible. If you are confronted with a student in crisis and wish to refer him or her on an emergency basis, if possible please call our office prior to the student's arrival to provide us with some background information. We can consult with you about how to make the referral, and discuss whether immediate intervention is necessary. Whenever possible, please inform the student in crisis that you are sharing information with us. In crisis situations, you may wish to walk the student over to our office personally. When calling, be sure to tell the receptionist that you are calling about a student emergency and need to consult with someone or refer the student over as soon as possible.
Student Crises Outside of Office Hours
The Counseling Center is open M/W/F 8:00 a.m.-5:00 p.m. and T/Th 8:00 a.m.-7:00 p.m. during the school year, and M-F 7:30 a.m.-4:00 p.m. during summer and school breaks. If a faculty or staff member needs to consult about a student crisis occurring after hours or during the weekend, Counseling Center staff members are on-call. The faculty or staff member should call the Counseling Center at 231-7671, and the answering service will refer the call to a counselor for emergency consultation. This emergency service is available after hours on weekday evenings and on weekends.
If you are a student seeking assistance after hours (rather than a faculty or staff member), please see our Crisis Intervention page for guidance.
- NDSU Campus police, 231-8998
- NDSU Student Health Service, 231-7331
- Sanford Hospital Emergency Room, 720 4th St. N., 234-5121
- FirstLink Hotline (24-hour crisis intervention, support & referral information), 235-SEEK (235-7335)
- Rape and Abuse Crisis Center, 293-7273
- First Step Recovery (chemical dependency evaluation & treatment), 293-3384
Seeking Professional Consultation With Our Staff
Although our office provides counseling and psychiatric services only to students, we are available to consult with faculty and staff about concerns that may arise, particularly concerns that pertain to the welfare of students. Staff and faculty members are invited to call our office and request consultation with the counselor on "walk-in" duty or other appropriate staff member. While we are not at liberty to reveal any information about specific students (including whether or not a particular student has received services here), we can often provide you with general information that may be of help in handling the situation, and you are welcome to provide us with any relevant information you have about the student(s). If no one is immediately available to provide consultation at the time of your call, you will be invited to leave a message. When leaving a message, please include the following information:
- Your name and position on campus
- How you can be reached
- Times that you will be availailable
- The general nature of your request
- If the situation requires immediate attention, please be sure to state this in your message.
Tips For Managing Emotionally-Laden Classroom Discussions
Sometimes troubling events from outside the classroom have a way of intruding on classroom discussions. After all, students often look to faculty for guidance in understanding the world around them, and course topics often focus or touch on troubling world events. The following link from Hobart and William Smith Colleges provides some general guidelines that may prove helpful in managing emotionally-laden class room discussions: Tips for Managing Emotionally-Laden Classroom Discussions
Faculty and Staff Seeking Counseling
If you are an NDSU staff or faculty member seeking mental health services for yourself or an immediate family member, please contact The Village Employee Assistance Program (EAP) at 1-800-627-8220 (the counseling service that NDSU provides for faculty and staff).
There is a short YouTube video on the Village EAP services available at:
For further information about this employment benefit, please contact the NDSU Human Resources Office at 701-231-8961.
Behavioral Intervention Team Pamphlet/Decision Tree
Email Behavioral Intervention Team
Stress and Depression Assessment
Emotional Classroom Discussions (HWS external link)
Helping Distressed Students (PowerPoint)
Students in Distress (Penn State)
BASICS Alcohol Screening and Intervention
Recovering From Grief and Trauma
Veterans & Military Student Services
Division of Student Engagement and Inclusion