Information for Faculty and Staff

The staff at the Dexter Counseling Center may be helpful to AIC faculty and staff in several ways: 1) to help locate mental health professionals in the area for personal issues. 2) to make classroom/group guest speaking appearances, and 3) to work with students about whom you may be concerned.

Within our college community there are a variety of ways that professors and staff may encounter students who are in distress. Your concerns may develop from your observations of student behavior in the classroom, office, or elsewhere on campus. While students may share their concerns directly with you while you are advising them or interacting with them in your official role, their distress may also become apparent during your more informal contacts with them. Some of these informal conversations or situations may be before/after class, while coaching, during your supervision of their work-study activities, or perhaps through their email or phone messages to you.

Warning Signs

Listed below are some of the warning signs that a student may be distressed, as well as some other reasons you might consider referring a student to the counseling center.

  • Irrational or bizarre behavior
  • Angry or threatening behavior
  • Depressed appearance or talk of suicide
  • Socially withdrawn behavior
  • Neglect of personal hygiene
  • Difficulty with social interactions
  • Difficulty concentrating in class
  • Impaired thoughts
  • Alcohol odor
  • Frequent class absences
  • Lethargic behavior
  • Complaints of sleeping problems
  • Difficulty performing on examinations
  • Unclear college/career interests/goals

Faculty/Staff Referral Process

Begin by sharing specific concerns with the student privately. Listen carefully to the student in a nonjudgmental manner. If appropriate, offer some alternative solutions for the student to consider in solving the problem. Additionally, suggest that he/she see someone at the Dexter Counseling Center. You may want to give the student a counseling center brochure, view our website together, or perhaps even call right then to help schedule an appointment. You can also fill out a referral form supplied to you at the start of each year.

Download the Counseling Center Referral Guide


If you feel a particular situation is an emergency, call the counseling center immediately, share your concerns, and, if possible, walk with the student to the center. When emergency situations develop outside of the counseling center hours and you feel that the student needs to be seen immediately, call the appropriate dean or supervisor. In addition, security personnel are sometimes utilized to transport students to a nearby 24-hour psychiatric crisis center where psychiatric needs can be assessed.

Keeping Confidences

Dexter counselors can consult with faculty/staff regarding concerns about students, but to make the counseling relationship work we cannot tell you if a student followed through with a referral for counseling or divulge any information we receive from the student without his/her permission. That would be a breach of trust.

A Matter of Trust

Students may be reluctant to seek help at the counseling center. Faculty/staff members can maximize the likelihood that students will seek assistance by addressing their reluctance or fears about the counseling process. Sometimes it's the "Trust Issue". Tell them that what goes on in counseling is confidential - we won't even tell you without their written permission.

Asking For Help Is Okay

Assure the student that counseling services help normal people sort out the causes of unsettled feelings. Help the student to understand that addressing problems while they are small can prevent them from growing out of control or developing into a major crisis. Express confidence in the counseling center and identify the counselors by name. This has proven helpful in assisting students to follow through with referrals.

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