Counseling Resources

Here is some more information regarding other counseling options. Links to other web sites are for your information only. Simpson University does not specifically endorse any source or information provided on the internet beyond the information that is specifically published by our site.

Other websites to reference

Counseling Skills

  • Recognizing the Emotionally Distressed Student/Faculty/Staff Member

    If you are concerned about a student, faculty, or staff member, but are not sure how to proceed, call the Counseling Center. A professional counselor will return your call and help you determine an appropriate course of action. Your call will remain confidential. Consultations of this sort are a regular part of our services, and are frequently used by faculty to learn how best to deal with students who are in need of assistance.

    Due to the opportunities for faculty and staff to observe and interact with students and other employees, they often are the first to recognize that someone is in distress. Look for a pattern of behaviors, but understand that not everyone who is in distress experiences the same symptoms. Additionally, distress may be situational (i.e., short-term), or chronic (i.e., ongoing) and the severity of symptoms varies with individuals.

    1. What to Do: Proactive Preparedness

      • Be familiar with signs and symptoms of ongoing distress
      • Seek consultation with Counseling Center or others knowledgeable professionals
      • Speak early with a campus Resident Director, the Associate Dean of Students, or the Dean of Students who might meet with the student and establish a "contract" regarding their behavior
      • Direct the person to helpful resources at Simpson University or in the community (Counseling Center, Resident Life, Student Health Center)
      • Be familiar with student policies and procedures, especially dealing with disruptive classroom behaviors and disciplinary process
    2. Awareness and Identification: What to Look For (Signs/Symptoms)

      • Speech incoherent, loud, pressured, rapid, disjointed, slurred
      • Thought content: poor reality contact, irrational, paranoid, suspicious, grandiose, confused, disoriented, poor planning and decision-making
      • Dependency (hangs around, makes excessive appointments, excessive telephone contacts)
      • Stalking, obsessive pre-occupation, obsessive fantasizing
      • Intoxication (substance use and abuse); abuse or prescriptions medications or "over the counter" products
      • Anxiety (trembling, sweating, irritability, restlessness, reports worry, difficulty concentrating, insomnia, feeling overwhelmed, fearful)
      • Depression (reports or reveals persistent sadness, feelings of hopelessness, guilt, worthlessness, loss of interest or pleasure, insomnia, weight gain or loss, decreased energy, fatigue, difficulty concentrating)
      • In class: inconsistent attendance, decline in physical hygiene, listlessness, falling asleep in class, frequent illnesses/absences, poorly prepared or inconsistent work (especially if changed from a prior level of functioning), irritability, mood swings
      • Suicidal: make threats or references to not wanting to live any longer, reports an overwhelming loss (perceived), has available means and a viable plan, reports lack of emotional support system (withdrawal), reveals poor coping strategies, reports or reveals substance use and abuse

    Adapted from University of South Florida Counseling Center's web site.

  • Responding to a Potentially Violent Student/Faculty/Staff Member

    Because it is infrequent, violent behavior is extremely difficult to predict. However, the following information may be helpful in identifying potential aggression and knowing what to do about it.

    1. General Facts

      • The best predictor of violent behavior is past violent behavior (i.e. violence against self or others, history of family violence, physical abuse as a child)
      • The risk of violence is about five times higher when substance use and abuse is involved than when it is not
    2. Signs of Possible Danger

      • Verbal or physical hostility (i.e. overt angry behavior), including verbal or physical threats, angry outbursts, loud and confrontational language
      • Escalating angry, aggressive, hostile, or agitated behavior
      • Suspiciousness or paranoia (hyper-vigilance, delusional speech content)
      • Fearfulness, expressed helplessness or hopelessness
      • Access to a weapon
    3. Early Warning Signs

      • Increased substance abuse
      • Confusion
      • Mood swings
      • Increased social withdrawal
      • Increased irritability, impatience
      • Increased absenteeism or lateness
      • Diminished personal hygiene and self-care
      • Diminished concentration, problem-solving ability, decision-making ability, judgment
      • Diminished cooperation
      • Decreased productivity, energy, motivation
    4. Triggering Events


      Often there are a series of events in an individual's life which "trigger" violent behavior. These include any event which the individual perceives as a serious loss or threat of loss, such as:
      • Loss of a loved one (death, break-up)
      • Physical threat to self or a loved one
      • Loss or threat of loss of something highly valued (e.g. a job; an anticipated or desired accomplishment or "victory")
      • Feeling unfairly deprived of something valued, especially if no recourse appears to be available to the individual
      • Feeling frustrated or ignored
    5. Some Reasons for Violence

      • To release feelings of anger or frustration, helplessness or hopelessness
      • To control others or to get something
      • To retaliate against those perceived to have been hurtful
    6. Some Reasons for Workplace Violence

      • Job insecurity
      • Oppressive work environment
      • Few (or no) channels for appropriate expression of anger or other feelings
      • Few (or no) channels for appropriate resolution of conflicts
      • Feeling devalued, demeaned
      • Job stress; feeling overwhelmed
    7. Proactive Steps

      • Be familiar with the University's work place violence policy and student code of conduct
      • Consult University safety to establish a work place safety plan and to provide a workshop on work place violence
      • Be familiar with effective listening and helping skills
      • Talk to the student/employee in a caring manner (objectively share what has been observed, without evaluation; express concerns regarding the employee and involved others; offer to listen and assist, if possible)
      • Refer the individual to the Counseling Center
      • Document the earliest and ongoing misconduct or reasons for concern
      • Involve (or consult with) appropriate authorities as early as possible- immediate supervisor, dean, department head, Resident Life staff, Human Resources, University Safety
    8. When to Involve University Safety

      • Student/employee is acting in a threatening manner
      • Student/employee is making specific threats to hurt others
      • Student/employee's actions have caused harm to others
      • Student/employee displays a weapon
      • Student/employee initiates violent behavior (including throwing, hitting or destroying objects)
      • Student/employee kidnaps or takes others hostage
      • Student/employee creates or threatens to create a hazardous condition in the work place
      • Student/employee is engaging in stalking behaviors
    9. In event of imminent danger or violent incident

      • CALL 9-1-1
      • Seek assistance for persons needing care
    10. What To Do in a Dangerous Situation

      • Try to remain calm and calm the student/employee
      • Try to appear confident and in control
      • Express a willingness to discuss the person's concerns
      • Maintain a poised contact
      • Avoid getting emotionally or personally drawn in
      • Avoid behavioral gestures (these might be misinterpreted)
      • Provide an exit route for you and the student (do not be between the person and the door)
      • Attempt to remove the student/employee from the situation if others are in danger (e.g. ask a student to step outside the classroom; suggest meeting after class)
      • If the student refuses to calm down or leave, and /or any danger appears to exist, dismiss the class
      • State possible consequences for behavior (but not threats)
      • Discuss options and alternatives
      • Notify University Safety or call 9-1-1 (Later, give detailed report to University Safety)
    11. Following the Incident

      • Initiate corrective actions
      • Seek assistance from the Counseling Center
      • Set up a critical incident debriefing for all affected individuals within 48-72 hours (to insure accurate communication, accelerate individual and group recovery, and enhance group cohesion)
      • Refer affected individuals to on-campus and off-campus resources for individual assistance

    Adapted from University of South Florida Counseling Center’s web site.

  • Effective Listening/Helping Skills

    Remember: Everyone wants to be heard, to feel "listened to" and understood.

    1. Express concern and desire to help
    2. Ask about feelings and thoughts
    3. Suspend judgment
    4. Try to develop trust (provide environment of warmth and acceptance)
    5. Use person's name
    6. Let the person know you are listening (attending behaviors)
    7. Communicate undivided attention; resist distractions
    8. Nod
    9. Paraphrase or repeat essence of person's messages
    10. Agree when genuine
    11. Repeat or summarize main ideas ("facilitative listening")
    12. Listen "between the lines for the underlying "feeling" message
    13. Empathize with and "reflect" their feelings ("I understand what you're saying. I think I know what you're feeling. I can understand that you're feeling angry. It must be very frustrating.")
    14. Acknowledge concerns and fears, without supporting misperceptions
    15. Discourage discussion of any delusion and focus on "here and now"
    16. Problem-solve (only when the person is ready)
    17. Explore ways (options) for person to have their needs met
    18. Break down concerns into manageable problem-solving steps (non-judgmental, solution-oriented approach)
    19. "Brainstorm" together
    20. Try to provide a face-saving solution; explore acceptable compromises
    21. Do not:
      • Argue
      • Interrupt
      • Scold or lecture
      • Offer false reassurances
      • Be overly logical and rational, or try to "fix"" the problem before thoroughly understanding
      • Trivialize the circumstances or feelings
      • Try to convince them of their irrationality
      • Overly challenge or confront
      • Invade physical space
    22. Body language (non-verbal behavior) communicates important messages. The following may be helpful in reducing others' anger and assisting an individual in calming themselves:
      • Eye contact (not too intense)
      • Interpersonal distance (not too close); Respect personal space; Do not move toward an agitated person
      • Restrict body movement to a minimum; Minimize sudden behaviors
      • Maintain an "open" position (do not cross arms or legs; hands unclenched)
      • Maintain same eye level (sit or stand depending on student's position)
      • Speak softly and reassuringly