Referral to a Community Agency

Because we offer primarily short-term counseling, we provide referral information for appropriate community resources to students whose needs are beyond the scope of the Counseling Center.


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 staffed by professional, experienced psychologists and mental health counselors who specialize in working with college students. Located at 103 Student Health Center, we are easily accessible to students.

When to Refer

With many problems, earlier intervention is better. A person who receives appropriate help sooner, rather than later, may be less likely to experience more severe symptoms or problems.

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

  1. Depression
  2. Suicidal thoughts or feelings
  3. Substance abuse
  4. Abrupt changes in behavior
  5. Inappropriate crying
  6. Outbursts of anger
  7. Low self-esteem
  8. 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. To read more about some of the common mental health problems college students face, visit or the Counseling Center's Links.

How to Refer

Consider the following 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 the student is reluctant to come to the Counseling Center, it may help if you can provide more information.

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.

If the student still resists help and you continue to be worried, contact the Counseling Center to consult with a staff member.

Urgent or Crisis Situations

If you believe that it is an urgent situation, call the Counseling Center at (319)273-2676 and we will consult with you about what to do. In many cases, we will recommend that you send or bring the student to the Counseling Center to meet with an on-duty crisis counselor. If danger is imminent, call 911 (If on campus, dial 9-911).

After regular office hours, call the Counseling Center at 319-273-2676 and press 2 to speak to a crisis counselor.

Urgent or crisis situations may include, but are not limited to:

  1. A risk of suicide.
  2. A threat of harm to others.
  3. Severely disorganized, psychotic, or out of control behavior.
  4. Trauma, such as sexual assault or the death or injury of someone close to the student.

About Confidentiality

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 (with specific rare exceptions).

If you wish to be certain that a student makes an appointment, consider having the student call the Counseling Center from your office. We will be able to confirm that the appointment was kept only if the student gives us permission to release that information to you.

Help for Faculty and Staff Members

To schedule a confidential appointment with a counselor from the Employee Assistance Program, call 800-327-4692.


The Counseling Center is accredited by the International Association of Counseling Services (IACS).

Diversity Statement

The Counseling Center is committed to being knowledgeable and sensitive regarding issues of gender, race, ethnicity, national origin, age, sexual orientation, religion, and ability.

Diversity Matters

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