Referrals to Counseling

UNI faculty and staff members frequently become aware of students who are troubled or distressed. In many cases, a student benefits greatly from supportive listening and advice from a trusted faculty or staff member. In other cases, a faculty or staff member may wish to refer the student for professional counseling. The UNI Counseling Center is easily accessible to students at 103 Student Health Center.

When to Refer to Counseling

The following signs may indicate a need to refer a student to the Counseling Center:

  • Depression
  • Suicidal thoughts or feelings
  • Substance abuse
  • Abrupt changes in behavior
  • Inappropriate crying
  • Outbursts of anger
  • Low self-esteem
  • Debilitating anxiety

Students could also benefit from counseling if they are having difficulty coping with a loss (e.g., death or relationship breakup), if they have experienced a traumatic incident (e.g., assault or accident), if they have experienced a significant stressor or whenever emotional difficulties interfere with daily functioning.

How to Refer to Counseling

Communicating concern for the student and explaining the ways that this resource may assist are effective ways to refer students to counseling.

Information About Counseling

Mental Health Counseling is confidential according to state and federal laws. We cannot legally release information about a student to anyone without his or her permission.

Counseling can be sharing thoughts and feelings in confidence with a trained counselor who is objective and a good listener. This often is helpful when a person has a decision to make.

  • Counseling may help change behaviors in order to deal more effectively with a problem.
  • Counseling increases awareness of strengths you can use in coping with life problems.
  • Counseling may help by providing certain types of information, or by teaching new skills.
  • Counseling may help you to see yourself and others in a different light.
  • Sometimes students feel more comfortable if you, or another trusted person, offers to accompany them to the Counseling Center on their first visit.

Guidelines When Talking with a Student

  1. Talk to the student in a private setting.
  2. Listen carefully and express your concern.
  3. Repeat back the essence of what the student tells you.
  4. Avoid criticizing or sounding judgmental.
  5. Suggest the Counseling Center as a resource to help the student.
  6. Inform the student that counseling is confidential and free of charge.
  7. Suggest that they call or visit the Counseling Center to arrange an initial appointment.


If you believe there is an urgent situation with a student, call the Counseling Center at 273-2676 and they will consult with you about what to do. In many cases, they will recommend that you send or bring the student to the Counseling Center to meet with an on-duty crisis counselor.