When can a referral to a counselor help?

When a student shares difficulties that are beyond your ability to help, or when a student's behavior suggests serious emotional problems, refer the student to Student Counseling Services. Counselors can help people work through a wide variety of issues, including:

  • Depression and anxiety
  • Suicidal thoughts or feelings
  • Grief and loss
  • Problems in current relationships
  • Sexual assault and abuse
  • Traumatic experiences
  • Maladaptive ways of coping

Northeastern Illinois University's Student Counseling Services provides individual, group, and couples counseling for help with these issues. Referrals to outside providers may also be provided when the situation warrants an evaluation for medication or calls for services best provided by others.

How do I make a referral?

When someone confides in you, they are affirming that you have an important relationship with them; this relationship is a powerful tool that you can use to encourage someone to seek help.

Here are some guidelines:

  • Listen. Let the student share what concerns them in some detail. The student will feel heard, and you will have more information that will help you decide what might be best.
  • Communicate that you are concerned about the person's welfare, and that there are resources on campus that may be able to help.
  • Indicate that counseling may help him or her deal with the situation more effectively. Suggest that the student schedule an initial meeting with a counselor to see if it may be useful.
  • Note: You may also offer other resources at this time, such as the Learning Support Center, their Academic Advisor, etc.
  • Offer information about how to make an appointment. For example, students can call (773) 442-4650 or go to Room B 119 in person.
  • Another note: You can't force someone to seek help - and you shouldn't - but your expression of concern can be a powerful influence on the student's choice to seek help.

How much should you help?

That depends ... on the nature of the problem, the degree of urgency, and the ability or willingness of the person to follow through. Sometimes simply giving someone a name to call is sufficient; other times, actually making a call to Counseling Services while you are meeting with a student is effective. If the student agrees, you can walk the student to Counseling Services to make the appointment.

It's important to recognize that a referral may take more than one conversation. The student may need some time to get used to the idea. It's a good idea to check in a few days after you've had the conversation outlined above to see if they've made an appointment, or have further questions.

What if it feels very urgent?

First, evaluate the source of the urgency.

  • Is the student in danger? Follow the steps below which ensure that they receive quick services.
  • Or, is it more that you are uncomfortable, or unaccustomed to talking with students about their feelings?

This is important, and Counseling Services is ready to help. However, this may not mean that the student must be seen right away.

Counseling Services staff can help you evaluate the level of urgency, and decide the course of action. We encourage you to call us and ask to talk to one of the staff psychologists if you are considering bringing a student to us.

In an emergency, don't hesitate to act. These are your first resources:

  • Potential danger, medical emergency or immediate disruption: Call University Police at (773) 442-5511. They will respond in any cases of immediate danger.
  • Psychological or Emotional crisis: Call Student Counseling Services at (773) 442-4650. We will assess the need for more extensive psychological intervention and make arrangements as necessary. During normal semester hours, the office is open from 8:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday.

After hours, emergency counselors can be reached by calling Counseling Services (773) 442-4650 and following the menu prompts.

  • Non-emergency medical situation: Call Student Health Services at (773) 442-5800 or go to Room E 051. During normal semester hours, the office is open 8 a.m.-4 p.m. Monday through Friday.
  • Non-emergency Student Disruption: In a non-emergency situation, call the Dean of Students Office at (773) 442-4610 for information about dealing with disruptive students.

Why Do you want me to call counseling services first?

Alerting us prior to bringing a student accomplishes many things:

  1. It gives us a heads-up that someone is coming, and gives us time to find an available staff member.
  2. It allows us to talk with you about the level of urgency, and collaboratively make the best decision for the student.
  3. It allows us to talk with you about what you are seeing and what concerns you. Sometimes students do not always report the same level of detail to us - who they've just met - as opposed to you, a trusted faculty member or advisor. The more information we have, the better we can serve the student.

What will I hear back?

Because the counseling process is confidential, we cannot discuss what our clients tell us us. In fact, we can't even tell you whether the student has made contact with us without his or her permission. We do, however, encourage students to let you know that they have followed through on your referral and made contact with us. We may also ask the student if we can contact you for additional information. For more information on the limits to confidentiality, consult our page Counseling FAQ.

What are the qualifications of the counselors?

The counseling staff is composed of doctoral-level Licensed Psychologists, along with doctoral- and master's-level trainees providing services under the direct clinical supervision of the licensed counseling staff. See SCS Staff Profiles to learn more.

To find out about any of these services, to arrange an appointment, or to discuss a possible referral, visit us in Room B 119, or call (773) 442-4650. From any campus phone, simply dial extension 4650.