Referral Guide for Faculty and Staff

If you have questions about a student's behavior or the appropriateness of a referral, please call the Counseling Center at (616) 331-3266 and speak to a staff member about ways to proceed with the student.

Referral Guide for Faculty and Staff

The Counseling and Career Development Center serves as a resource for students and provides both personal and career counseling. Students who use our services have concerns that include general adjustment to college, relationship problems, time management and academic performance issues, social skills development, drug and alcohol concerns, and lack of direction about choice of major or career. We also deal with more serious concerns including depression, suicidal thinking, anxiety, and eating disorders.

The Counseling Center also serves as a resource for faculty and staff regarding concerns about students. Faculty and staff members often interact with students on a daily basis and may be the first to notice a student's interpersonal difficulties, problems in academic performance, or be informed by other individuals about a student having problems. Also, students may seek out faculty and staff members for assistance or advice when they feel distressed, anxious and/or depressed. Because of the frequent interaction that faculty/staff members have with students, there may be times when a referral is necessary.

Some reasons for referral are:

A student:

  • shows evidence of a serious change in the quality of their work.
  • asks for help.
  • mentions suicide or harming someone else.
  • experiences traumatic changes in personal relationships.
  • uses drugs and alcohol abusively.
  • has problems choosing career/academic major.
  • has learning problems.
  • is in jeopardy of academic suspension.
  • has notable changes in personal hygiene.
  • has excessive absences from class/work/activities.
  • presents with unusual or changed patterns of interaction.
  • exhibits disruptive behavior.
  • appears to have a lack of energy or personal appearance has deteriorated.
  • feels or acts anxious.
  • exhibits strange or bizarre behavior indicating loss of contact with reality.
  • sends excessive or threatening electronic communication.

What happens to a student after you refer him/her?

Because of the legal and ethical requirements regarding the confidential nature of the client/counselor relationship, we cannot contact you after you refer a student to the Center, even to let you know that he/she came in. However, it is certainly appropriate for you to ask the student if he/she followed up on getting assistance.

The student will be seen individually by a counselor. Together, the counselor and the student will define the concerns and discuss goals for counseling. (If there is a risk of suicide, the counselor will assess the student's degree of risk and take appropriate action.)

If the Counseling Center staff is unable to meet the student's counseling needs, we will refer him/her to an appropriate campus office or community resource. Other sources of assistance for students may include the Health Center, Campus Ministry, Dean of Students Office, Social Services, or other community and mental health agencies.

In the past, some faculty and administrative staff have required students to receive counseling as a condition of getting into or staying in a program. Because counseling is considered a form of treatment, an individual cannot be obliged to receive counseling. The Counseling staff can consult with a faculty member or student regarding what might be an appropriate plan for a particular situation; however, the decision to pursue counseling is up the student.

 Where to refer?

Allendale Campus:
Counseling and Career Development Center
204 Student Services Building
or call (616) 331-3266

Office hours: Monday through Thursday 8am-6pm and Friday 8am-5pm


Pew Campus:
Counseling and Career Development Center
116 Building B
or call (616) 331-3266

Pew Office hours: Monday 10-7pm; Tuesday and Wednesday 9-6pm; and Thursday 8-5pm

What to do if it is an emergency?

In emergency situations in which a student is unwilling or unable to seek help on his/her own, contact the Counseling Center (616-331-3266) for assistance.