With the university returning to on-campus learning, the counseling center will be offering in-person and virtual services starting August 16, 2021. For up-to-date information and details about services and support, please view our Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs).
What do I say if students tell me they went to the Counseling Center and…
…they couldn't get an appointment?
…they were turned away or referred off-campus?
…they were put on a waiting list?
…they didn't find it helpful?
If I refer a student to the Counseling Center, how long will the student have to wait for an appointment?
Students who call for an appointment with a clinician are offered the next available initial consultation hour that fits with the student's schedule. It's usually possible to schedule an appointment within a few days or a week. If a student is in distress, or you need consultation, AU ProtoCall Services (202)-885-7979 are available 24 hours a day. AU ProtoCall Services will provide consultation for appropriate next steps for assistance.
I send students to the Counseling Center regularly. How do I find out whether they actually went, who they saw, and what happened?
District laws protect the confidentiality of students' contacts with the Counseling Center. The Center cannot release any information about the student (including whether or not the student has come to the Center), to anyone (including their parents, teachers, or friends), unless we have the student's permission. There are rare situations exempt from these regulations, and you are welcome to speak with any licensed Counseling Center clinician if you would like to learn more about these exemptions. When you refer a student to the Counseling Center, you can certainly ask the student to provide their permission for their clinician to speak with you, and authorization forms are available at the Center. We understand that it is often very helpful for you and your student's clinician to consult with one another, and we will certainly try to facilitate these conversations where appropriate. However, in situations where we are constrained by law from sharing confidential information with you, we ask for your understanding as well.
Aside from knowing I can send a student to the Counseling Center, does the Center have other resources to help me in my work?
The Counseling Center has many resources for faculty, advisors, and staff. For more information about any of the services described below, call the Center at x3500 or visit us at www.american.edu/ocl/counseling.
Consultation. You can consult with a Center clinician about such issues as how to help a student in distress, how to make a referral to the center, how to manage interpersonal conflicts or problematic classroom behaviors, etc.
Guest Lectures Service. Counseling Center staff members are available to supplement your coursework or program by providing a lecture, presentation, or workshop to your students on a wide variety of topics related to mental health and college student development (dependent on schedule and availability of Counseling Center staff). To learn more, visit our website.
Self-Help Library. Printed brochures and articles are available to you and your students in our self-help library. Topics include, for example, depression, anxiety, relationships, eating disorders, perfectionism, exam panic, procrastination, suicidality, etc. The library is located in the Center's waiting area.
Web resources. The Counseling Center's website contains information of interest to both students and faculty, such as services offered, announcements of upcoming events, and Self-Help links to web information on topics related to mental health and college life.
Workshops and presentations. The Counseling Center offers workshops and presentations throughout the year on issues of interest to college students. Many of the topics are relevant to particular coursework or student activities, and can be designated as extra credit for a course or required participation for a club or group.
Where do I send a student who needs their prescription refilled by a psychiatrist?
The Counseling Center does not provide psychiatric services. However, limited psychiatric services are available at the Student Health Center. More information about their services is available on their web site at www.american.edu/ocl/healthcenter. For students with more specialized or extensive psychiatric needs, the Counseling Center can help students access private psychiatric care in the community. Encourage your student to meet with a Center clinician for help connecting to an appropriate local provider.
If I just give you the name of a student I am worried about, can the Counseling Center call the student in for an appointment?
The Counseling Center does not make uninvited calls or invitations to students with whom we have no prior relationship. In the case of an emergency, we can help you contact emergency response personnel (Public Safety, DC Psychiatric Response or Emergency Medical services, etc.). In non-emergency situations, we can consult with you about what you can do to encourage a student to make use of our services: e.g., sharing your concerns with your student in an empathic and non-accusatory way; arranging for a clinician come speak with your whole class or group on a relevant topic; facilitating your student's making an appointment at the Center (e.g., keeping them company when they call for an appointment). In some cases, we can help you determine whether it would be appropriate to share your concerns about the student with the Dean of Students or some other university officer who is in a position to call the student in for a meeting.
What do I say if a student tells me they went to the Counseling Center and...
...they couldn't get an appointment?
As described above, initial consultations and crisis-resolution support are always available. For 24/7 crisis support, a clinician can be reached through AU ProtoCall Services at 202-885-7979.
...they were turned away or referred off-campus?
No student is turned away from the Counseling Center. Any student can schedule an initial consultation appointment and has access to AU ProtoCall Services. However, many students require services that can not be met by a university counseling center. In a student's first appointment at the Counseling Center, the student and clinician will discuss the student's current concerns and also what sort of continuing support the student might need. Sometimes, the student needs services that are readily available to them at the Counseling Center, such as crisis intervention, time-limited individual counseling, group therapy, a workshop, or self-help materials. Sometimes, however, a student needs services that are not available at the Center, particularly if the student requires treatment that is specialized (e.g., an inpatient or day treatment program, a drug detoxification program), more immediate (e.g., emergency psychiatric treatment, a counseling service not immediately available at the Center), extensive (e.g., coordinated medical and psychotherapeutic treatment, year-round treatment availability), or intensive (e.g., multiple-sessions-weekly psychotherapy, long-term, on-call psychiatric services). In such cases, the clinician works with the student to help them get connected to appropriate, affordable, accessible off-campus care. Students of limited funds generally find that insurance benefits or local sliding-fee resources help with the costs. The student's original clinician will continue to support the student while working to connect with the particular services that will meet that student's needs.
...they were put on a waiting list?
Students never need to wait for counseling. If the Center cannot provide an appropriate clinician, or none of the available hours fit the student's schedule, the student's initial clinician will work with the student to connect them with appropriate off-campus care. The Center allows students to choose to wait for the next available Center hour that fits into their schedule rather than connecting with immediately-available off-campus care, provided the student is appropriate for counseling at the Center and does not need more immediate, specialized, intensive, or extensive care. While students wait for an opening that fits their schedule, their initial clinician is in periodic touch with them to see how they are doing and to help them connect with immediate services if they decide at any point that they would like to get started in counseling right away.
...they didn't find it helpful?
If a student did not feel comfortable about their conversation with a particular clinician at the Center, they are welcome to make another appointment with a different clinician with whom they may feel more comfortable. If students have other complaints about their Counseling Center experience, please do not hesitate to give them the name and phone number of the Director of Clinical Services (Dr. Shatina Williams), at x3500, who will try to resolve whatever concerns they may have.
What if I am concerned about a student, but don't quite know how to handle the situation?
Feel free to call the Counseling Center and consult with a clinician about your concerns. A clinician can help you assess the student's level of distress, determine whether and how to bring up the idea of counseling with the student, decide how to respond to problematic interpersonal behaviors or written materials, etc.