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Department of Counseling Services Referral Guide

The Department of Counseling Services offers a range of counseling services designed to enhance the personal growth of Clarion University of Pennsylvania students and to aid them in completing their education. The center offers individual and group counseling for a variety of concerns, testing, computerized career searches, outreach programming, and consultation services.

The purpose of this guide is to provide practical information to university personnel about when professional counseling might be helpful and how to make a successful referral to the Department of Counseling Services.

Situations in Which a Referral for Counseling Might Be Helpful

1. Career Choice Concerns

  • Dissatisfaction with current major
  • Failure in current major
  • Undecided about major
  • Unrealistic career aspirations
  • Lack of knowledge about a career area
  • Interest in transferring to another school
  • Interest in graduate education

2. Personal Concerns

  • Adjustment to college
  • Conflicting relationship with parents
  • Concerns about interpersonal relationships
  • Concerns about intimate relationships
  • Sexual identity concerns
  • Loss and grieving
  • Life transitions
  • Stress Management
  • Test Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Eating Disorders

3. Situations indicating concerns of a serious nature

  • Frequent absences from class
  • Loss of appetite or excessive eating
  • Insomnia or excessive sleeping
  • Inability to concentrate
  • Unexplained crying or emotional outbursts
  • Social withdrawal
  • Acute restlessness or irritability
  • Significant changes in behavior or academic performance
  • Alcohol or drug abuse
  • Lying or antisocial acts
  • Significant confusion or thinking disturbance
  • References to suicide (comments and threats should always be taken seriously and action should be taken immediately)

How to Refer a Student for Counseling

  1. Express your concern directly while showing concern
  2. Tell the student why you are referring him or her. Be specific about what contributed to your concern (behaviors, comments, etc.). Don't be critical or make negative generalizations. Let the student know you would like him or her to get help with the concern, but the counselor would be more prepared to assist.
  3. Tell the student what to expect. Present the idea of counseling in a positive light. For example, "It's not just for big problems" or "We've all needed to talk at some point." If the student expresses the belief that he or she should be able to solve his or her own problems, it might be useful to point out that one wouldn't insist on setting one's own broken leg, but would probably seek assistance from someone specializing in it.
  4. Reassure the student that their counseling experience will be kept confidential and will not appear on any university record.
  5. Inform the student that services are free of charge. This might be the only opportunity in the person's life to receive such services at no cost.
  6. Offer to call for an appointment or have the student call from your telephone.
  7. If the student is hesitant, try to provide the opportunity to discuss the reasons for this reluctance. It might be helpful to give him or her a chance to think about it. If the student rejects your recommendation, respect his or her decision. The Counseling Services office is not able to force students to come in. However, counselors can serve as consultants to help you encourage a student to come or suggest how best to support him or her.
  8. Encourage the student to go to several counseling appointments (unless only one is needed). Tell the student that it takes time to resolve concerns.
  9. If possible, follow up with students whether or not they agreed to make an appointment. As the student if he or she went to the appointment and what he or she thought of it.
  10. If it is important for you to contact the counselor, ask the Department of Counseling Services to have the student sign a release of information. Because counseling is confidential, you will not be able to talk with the counselor about whether the student made the appointment or what occurred unless the students has signed a release of information. If you are aware that a student is being seen by a particular counselor and you have helpful information about the student, please contact the counselor.

Initiation of Services

To initiate counseling services, you or the student can call or come to the Counseling Services office to make an appointment. When scheduling an appointment at the Counseling Services office, the student will be scheduled to see the counselor who is most immediately available. If you or the student has a preference for a particular counselor, every attempt will be made to honor the request. During certain times of the semester it may become necessary for the Counseling Services office to develop and maintain a waiting list for particular counselors. In most cases, the student who does not have a preference for a counselor can been seen within one week. When the student arrives for the appointment, he or she will be asked to fill out some information and read a confidentiality statement.

Emergencies vs. Non-emergencies

If a student talks about suicide or describes a specific plan for harming himself or herself or others, this constitutes an emergency. Immediate referral to Counseling Services is critical, and it is important to explain the nature of the emergency to the person at the reception desk so that the individual will be seen properly. Please do not label a non-life-threatening situation as an emergency. This will allow urgent situations that are emergencies to be dealt with immediately.

If a life-threatening emergency occurs after office hours, you can call an emergency services mental health delegate by calling 9-1-1. You can also refer a student in crisis to the Mental Health Crisis Line operated by the Clarion Psychiatric Center: 1-800-253-4906


For more information:

Clarion Campus

Department of Counseling Services 
Clarion University of Pennsylvania
148 Egbert Hall
Clarion, PA 16214-1232handwriting
(814) 393-2255

or visit:

Venango Campus

Department of Counseling Services
234 Montgomery Hall
Clarion University of Pennsylvania
Oil City, PA 16301
(814) 676-6591, ext. 1281
(From Clarion Campus, dial ext. 1281)