Stephen F. Austin State University

Referral Guide for Faculty & Staff

Counseling Services is staffed with five full-time professional counselors who provide individual and group counseling to SFA students, information and consultation to faculty and staff, and presentations on various mental health topics. Counseling Services also offers QPR Training to all members of the campus community to teach suicide prevention skills.

Our office is located in the Rusk Building, Third Floor; phone number (936) 468-2401. Appointments may be made in person or by telephone. Our regular hours are 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Monday through Friday.

Obviously, resolving situational or mental health issues will help a student achieve academically. And intervening early with mental health issues will help keep our campus safe for everyone. SFA faculty demonstrates its care for our students by identifying and referring students who may benefit from our resources. We appreciate your help in making students aware of the services we provide. Thank you for what you do!

How do I know a student needs help?

There will be times when the need for intervention is unmistakable, but sometimes the signs are more subtle. You may notice changes in attendance, behavior, appearance, or grades. (Some of these may be issues that you address through the "iCare" system, but also feel the need to respond personally.) Or you may overhear comments, or something written in an assignment causes concern.

What are some signs for concern?

The following are likely indications that a student may need attention:

We suggest that you make an effort to engage the student in conversation, and encourage him or her to come to your office when you have sufficient time to talk. You already have the feeling that this student is dealing with some problem that is more serious than that of the average student. Your willingness to listen to his or her feelings and thoughts without judgment may very well be the encouragement your student needs to address the problem.

Today's students may be experiencing stress from many sources. Some ways to cope include eating well, and getting enough sleep and adequate exercise. Feeling good physically has a lot to do with feeling good emotionally! Ways you can help include:

Referring a student to the appropriate resource shows the student that you have his or her best interest in mind. Below is a list of situations when referral to Counseling Services should be considered:

How do I make a referral to Counseling Services?

When you feel that a student might benefit from professional counseling, it is usually best to express your recommendation to the student in a straightforward manner. Refer to the behavior that has raised your concern and avoid making generalizations or attributing anything negative to the individual's personality or character.

Suggest in a caring way that the student might profit from talking to someone in Counseling Services. There is no charge to students, and all information (including the fact that a student attends counseling) is confidential within the limits provided by the law. No record is made on an academic transcript or credential file. Assure the student that every effort will be made for him or her to see a specific counselor if there is a preference.

Sometimes, a student is concerned that counseling carries a stigma. Assure the student that hundreds of SFA students seek counseling services for issues such as roommate difficulties and relationship building as well as for more serious problems. It's also helpful to reassure the student that only the counselor will ask about his or her reason for attending. Assuming your student agrees to see a counselor, we suggest a call be made immediately, while the student is with you, to arrange an appointment. Either you or the student can make the initial call, but we ask that the student schedule the appointment. Of course, unless there is an issue of imminent danger, the student may accept or refuse counseling. If the student is reluctant for any reason, simply express your acceptance of those feelings so that your own relationship with the student is not jeopardized. Give the student room to consider alternatives by suggesting that perhaps you can talk again after the student has had some time to think it over. If the student declines, respect the decision and again leave the situation open for possible discussion later.

If you call our office, identify yourself as a faculty or staff member. If there is a particular counselor that you would prefer the student to see, feel free to request him or her. If the situation is an emergency, don't hesitate to tell the receptionist; we will make every effort to see the student immediately. In this case, you may want to walk with the student to Counseling Services. Otherwise ask your student to schedule the appointment.

If you have information about the student that you think is important to share with the counselor, feel free to contact the counselor privately. The counselor will be happy to speak with you, but will not be able to share any information about the client (unless the student has provided written permission). Avoid asking the student for particular information after he or she has been referred to counseling; generally, if you ask if the appointment was kept, the student will volunteer whatever information seems appropriate. Some students follow through with counseling, and some, for various reasons, do not. You may wish to "check in" with the student from time to time. Of course, immediate resolution to most problems is, unfortunately, unlikely!

What services does Counseling Services provide?

Counseling

Individual Counseling for a range of issues. We also have free pamphlets, and self-help books that students can check out of our library.
Group Counseling on topics that vary by semester based on need. For current groups, please contact Counseling Services.
Couples Counseling is offered to students as long as one of the partners is a student at SFA.
Referral Resources are available and students can be referred to agencies and services for other specialized services.

Consultation

If you have concerns or questions, our counselors are available to help you:

Assess the situation, its seriousness, and potential for referral.
Learn about resources, both on-campus and off-campus, so that you can suggest the most appropriate referral.
Clarify your own feelings about the student and consider the ways you can be most effective.

Presentations

Counselors are available to make presentations on various mental health topics.

QPR Suicide Intervention Training

We encourage you to attend one of our scheduled QPR workshops, or consider having us conduct training for your class. Become a certified QPR Gatekeeper!