faculty staffThe college years mark an important period of personal and psychological growth that can be stressful for students. On occasion students may experience difficulty coping. You, as a faculty or staff member, may be one of the first to become aware of personal difficulties affecting a student. The information that appears below is drawn from the Center for Counseling and Student Wellness brochure, A Referral Guide for Faculty and Staff. You may also contact someone at the Counseling Center for hard copies of this brochure (ext. 3388).

About the Center for Counseling and Student Wellness

The CCSW is committed to providing comprehensive, quality services for all students dealing with developmental concerns or psychological problems. The staff of the Center is available to assist students with their personal and social concerns in hopes of helping them achieve satisfying educational and life experiences. Services offered include:

  • Free, confidential counseling for students

  • Consultation for faculty and staff

  • Psycho-educational programming

  • 24-hour crisis assessment and intervention

When to Refer—Warning Signs

Consider referring a student to the CCSW if you notice any of these warning signs:

  • You find yourself doing more personal counseling than academic advising with a student

  • A student seems excessively tired, anxious, depressed, irritable, angry, or sad

  • You notice marked changes in a student’s appearance or habits (e.g., deterioration in grooming, hygiene, weight loss, interpersonal withdrawal, acceleration in activity or speech, or change in academic performance

  • A student seems hopeless or helpless

  • A student’s use of alcohol or other substances interferes with her/his relationships or work

  • A student's thoughts or actions appear bizarre or unusual

How to Refer

If you notice any of these warning signs, inform the student of your concern in a straight-forward, matter-of-fact manner. Be specific regarding the behavior patterns you have observed. At this point, suggest that he/she consider personal counseling and refer the student to the Center for Counseling and Student Wellness. Encourage the student to call CCSW to set up an appointment. Except in emergencies, the student should be allowed the option of declining a referral for counseling.

Alternative referral resources on campus are also available. They include:


An emergency can occur anytime and may require immediate action. The CCSW provides 24-hour emergency crisis assessment and intervention throughout the academic year. The following are examples of emergency situations:

  • Suicidal gesture, stated intention, or attempt to commit suicide

  • Behavior posing an imminent threat to the student or others.

  • Demonstrated inability to care for oneself.

Any reference to suicide should be taken very seriously, and a referral to the CCSW is strongly advised. If the reference includes any mention of details of a suicide plan, immediate response is critical.

How to Respond to an Emergency

  • If possible, offer a quiet place for the individual to talk.

  • Listen to the person, while maintaining a straightforward, considerate, and helpful attitude.

  • Do not leave the individual alone, unless you feel concerned for your own safety.

  • Secure help as soon as possible.

Whom to Call in an Emergency

When faced with a mental health emergency, please contact the Center for Counseling and Student Wellness “Counselor-on-call.” During business hours call the center directly (781-3388); after business hours call the Department of Campus Safety (781-3333) and ask the dispatcher to page the Counselor-on-call. If you are concerned about imminent danger to the student or others, ask the dispatcher to send a security officer right away. Be prepared to provide as much information as possible, including:

  • Your name and department, and the name of the student in question

  • Description of the situation and necessary assistance

  • Exact location and description of the person in need of help

Confidentiality and Consultations

As required by law and professional codes of ethics, all communication between a counselor and a client is confidential. Once a student becomes a CCSW client, we cannot discuss his/her situation, or even acknowledge the fact that counseling is being provided, without the consent of the student. However, the Center’s staff typically requests students’ permission to acknowledge referrals; if you do not hear from us, it is likely that permission has been denied.
The limits of confidentiality notwithstanding, the staff at the center can always listen to your concerns. Don’t hesitate to contact us to discuss your concerns and explore possible courses of action..

Final Note

The staff at the center looks forward to working with you to promote the academic success and personal development of all Hobart and William Smith students.

More Info

The information that appears above is drawn from the Center for Counseling and Student Wellness brochure, A Referral Guide for Faculty and Staff. You may contact someone at the CCSW for hard copies of this brochure (ext. 3388) or download it by clicking here.



HWS Employees and their family members can arrange counseling through the Employee Assitance Program. Participants' right to privacy is fully protected by law and the Colleges' EAP policy. Employees may contact the EAP at (315) 789-2613, toll free 1-877-789-2613, visit their website or contact Human Resources for related literature.


Sometimes troubling events from outside the classroom have a way of intruding on classroom and one-on-one discussions with students. After all, students often look to faculty for guidance in understanding the world around them, and course topics often focus or touch on troubling world events. What follows are some general guidelines that may prove helpful in managing emotionally-laden classroom and one-on-one discussions.

Listen Actively

The goal of active listening is to understand and be able to reflect back the unique experiences of your students. This is critical to any helping relationship because:

  • It gives you more information and insight into students and their concerns.
  • It gives distressed students a chance to talk and as a result calm down. In addition, the students may be able to clarify their concerns for themselves.
  • It gives students a feeling of genuine caring and concern.
    Components of active listening include undivided attention, restating and clarifying students’ comments, labeling and validating feelings, open ended questioning, and expression of genuine concern.

Promote Resilience

Resilience is “the process and outcome of successfully adapting to difficult or challenging life experiences, especially highly stressful or traumatic events” (Butler, Hobfoll, & Keane, 2003, p. 1). Steps in promoting resilience include:

  • Assure the students that their reactions to distressing events, although unpleasant, are normal (i.e., it is normal to experience sleep problems, changes in appetite, sadness, low energy, irritability, anger, fear, inability to focus, difficulty making decisions, bouts of crying, and nightmares for a short time after a traumatic event). It is of concern, however, if symptoms last for several weeks or have a significant impact on day-to-day functioning.

  • Listen for and correct misconceptions, misinterpretations, and misinformation.

  • Help re-establish a sense of control—reinforce the ways that students can keep safe and the proactive things they can do to effect positive changes.

  • Learn more about resilience by reading this “Road to Resilience” brochure from the American Psychological Association.

Don’t Beat a Dead Horse

While some group discussion can be very helpful, people sometimes also need a break from thinking and talking about a traumatic event, and can feel distressed when it seems like the event is inescapable. Go with the flow of your class.

Take Care of Yourself

Hearing about someone else’s struggles can be difficult and can leave you feeling emotionally drained. Remember to find your own discussion outlets for dealing with your own emotions.


Preparing Students to Lead Lives of Consequence.