Faculty and Staff
Welcome to the Student Counseling Center (SCC) web site page for Faculty and Staff. This page is intended to provide you with information that may be helpful to you in your role with students at TSU.
Faculty and staff members on a university campus are in a special position. They often have the most influential, ongoing, and direct contact with students. This puts them in a great position to notice students who are struggling. For those who choose to be supportive and involved in helping a troubled student, the responsibility can sometimes be overwhelming, frightening, and/or tiring. Sometimes the best option for all concerned is a referral to campus resources like the SCC. Your referrals are always appreciated, and we are always available to consult with you about your students. Ethically, however, we cannot divulge any information we receive from our student/clients without the express written permission of the student.
Identifying Students Who May Benefit from a Referral
People dealing with personal concerns or problems tend to show signs that they are struggling in some way. The following indicators may be useful in assessing whether or not a referral should be made:
Talking about Suicide : If a student talks or writes about suicide, this should be taken seriously. Suicidal thoughts are in themselves not necessarily dangerous but, if they include actual plans for suicidal behaviors, the severity of the danger to the student increases dramatically. Suicide is often considered as an option when the person feels hopeless, trapped, out-of-control, and/or depressed. To make the assumption that talk of suicide is aimed solely toward getting attention can be a potentially fatal mistake. If you become aware of a student who is thinking about suicide, please make an immediate referral to the SCC. You can also call us for a consultation if you are unsure of an appropriate intervention or if the student is reluctant to take your referral. If a student clearly states the intent to commit suicide, call the SCC (968-9044) or Campus Police (968-9022).
Stating a Need for Help : Students will often come to faculty or staff members with direct requests for assistance. Through talking with the student, you may feel the problems are beyond your scope of knowledge or power to change. Listening carefully to students and their concerns can provide ample evidence to support your decision to refer. If a student comes to you, he/she obviously feels that the relationship with you is important enough to value your opinion and response.
Observable Changes : Some students do not directly tell you that there is a problem but their behaviors can be telling indicators. Distinct changes in academic performance, withdrawal from others, changes in class participation, crying, outbursts of anger, increased or decreased activity, and poor attendance are examples of behavioral changes that you may observe. Severe depression, extreme activity level, conversations that do not make sense, and a marked decline in personal hygiene are examples of possibly serious psychological problems. Any of these observable changes may merit a referral to the SCC.
Psychosomatic Complaints : Students who report physical illness or symptoms that cannot be supported by medical evidence may be experiencing psychological problems. Psychosomatic symptoms are very real for the student and should not be treated lightly. Tension headaches, changes in eating patterns, sleep disturbances, fatigue, stomach aches, and other physical pain symptoms are some examples of psychosomatic complaints.
Alcohol and Drug Abuse : Coming to class or a meeting when intoxicated or high is a sign that drug and/or alcohol abuse is a serious problem. Often people drink or take drugs as a way to cope with and alleviate other problems in their life. Unfortunately, the substance abuse itself becomes a problem, one that interferes with social, academic, and work functioning.
Academic Problems : Students who have noticeable negative changes in their academic performance also may be feeling overwhelmed with other areas of their lives. Some students come to classes with difficulty concentrating, performing well on exams, and achieving academically. The Testing and Learning Center in the Thompson Student Center is an excellent resource for helping students learn better methods of note taking, study and exam prep. For students with test anxiety, a referral to the SCC would be quite appropriate.
Additional Considerations in Making a Referral : Along with the factors listed above, faculty and staff members should also take into account the following situations when considering making a referral:
a. A student asks for assistance with a problem that is outside of your range of knowledge.
b. Helping the student with the problem would compromise and/or change the status of your relationship with the student (e.g.: a student asking for money, a place to live, access to contacting you at home if in crisis).
c. The student feels uncomfortable talking to you about the problem.
d. The assistance and support you have already provided does not seem to be addressing the problem effectively.
e. You and the student have personality differences or conflicts that cannot be resolved and would interfere with the help you might provide.
f. You find yourself feeling overwhelmed, overly responsible for, and worried about the personal safety of the student.
g. The student is disrupting others. A referral to the SCC is appropriate if the student is a significant and ongoing disturbance to others.
How to Make a Referral for Psychological Counseling
If a student approaches you with a problem, take the time to listen in a non-judgmental and respectful manner. If you wish to approach the student with your concerns, do so directly and state your concerns clearly. The following recommendations may help to make the process of providing a referral easier:
Do not attempt to make a referral when the student is so upset and confused that he/she cannot understand or listen to you. Wait until the student has calmed down enough to be able to converse and respond to your suggestions.
Suggest in a caring, supportive manner that the student may benefit from meeting with a counselor at the SCC. You may want to explain the following:
Counseling at the SCC is confidential. This means that information about the student cannot be released to you, or other offices, family, professors, etc. without the student's written permission (the exception being if the student is in danger of harming him/herself or others).
The services are free to currently registered, full-and part-time students.
The first meeting is an intake/consultation session where the counselor listens to concerns and then helps the student to identify ways to effectively address these concerns.
Give the student our phone number (968-9044). The student can call from your office or from home. No appointments can be made for a student by a third party without the student directly speaking to the secretary and asking for an appointment.
If you feel that the student is in crisis, you can call the SCC or have the student call from your office. Tell our receptionist that this is an "emergency" and if appropriate, the student will be scheduled for a crisis appointment that day.
Some Comments on Confidentiality
The counselors at the SCC are under ethical and legal obligations not to release confidential information. We cannot tell anyone that the student is receiving our services. Counselors adhere strictly to confidentiality laws for our profession and can only break confidentiality if the student gives direct written permission. One exception, in the case of danger to self or others, involves breaking confidentiality of the student without permission so that the student or others are protected. If a student tells us that you referred him/her and gives written permission, a counselor will call you to notify you that the student did attend the initial intake appointment. If you would like feedback, you can call us to tell us that you have made a referral and we will directly ask the referred student for permission to contact you. We cannot provide additional information other than the fact that the student did attend the first intake appointment. If you would like more information about a student's contact with the Counseling Center , you can directly ask the student. The student can make decisions about how much he/she wants to reveal to others.
The Counseling Center provides consultation services about students to the entire campus community. We are glad to answer any questions that you may have about our services, your concerns about a student, and referral options. Your call will be directed to an available counselor or the Director and, if no counselor is immediately available, the secretary will take your number and someone will return your call within the day. Feel free to call and talk about your concerns regarding a student and, if indicated, ways to make an effective referral.
Do you feel a student is in crisis?
If a student talks or writes about suicide, this should be taken seriously. Suicidal thoughts are in themselves not necessarily dangerous but, if they include actual plans for suicidal behaviors, the severity of the danger to the student increases dramatically. Suicide is often considered as an option when the person feels hopeless, trapped, out-of-control, and/or depressed. To make the assumption that talk of suicide is aimed solely toward getting attention can be a potentially fatal mistake. If you become aware of a student who is thinking about suicide, please make an immediate referral to the SCC. You can also call us for a consultation if you are unsure of an appropriate intervention or if the student is reluctant to take your referral. If a student clearly states the intent to commit suicide, call the SCC (968-9044) or Campus Police (968-9022).
What is the ARTeam? Can I refer a student to this group?
The VA Tech tragedy reminded and compelled us to remain vigilant regarding the safety and mental health status of our students. To this end, Tarleton took a deliberate effort to review its processes and procedures pertaining to the identification and referral of students of concern (defined as students who may be at risk of harm to self or others). The result was the Assessment and Response Team (ARTeam). ARTeam is a team of university staff and faculty. ARTeam was created so that anyone who is concerned about a student, can refer them quickly and efficiently. ART was created to provide a proactive and caring way to prevent tragedies like the one that occurred in Virginia Tech. Confidentiality is maintained by all members of the team. Please click here (ARTeam) for more information about ARTeam and how to refer a student that you may be concerned about.
With Thanks, adapted From the Boston College and USF @ Tampa web sites