College is a period of great change for students and their parents. The George Washington University Counseling Center designed a page to help you understand and prepare for some of the unique experiences your children may have during their college years. It can be downloaded here. Another resource for parents is College Parents of America. CPA is a national membership association that helps parents “prepare and put their children through college easily, economically and safely.”

If you feel your PLU student is in need of counseling, please encourage him/her to come in or call us and we can help them schedule a counseling session. Please keep in mind that if he/she is over the age of 18, we are unable to release any student information to anyone without the student’s written consent.

Faculty and Staff

Faculty and staff members are in a unique position to identify and help students who are in crisis.  It is important to recognize that there may be times when students’ concerns and questions may cross over from those needing mentoring into those requiring more clinical professional assistance.

Below we have identified various symptoms of distress and indicators as to when a referral to the Counseling Center may be necessary.  You may also refer to our online A Faculty and Staff Guide to Helping Students in Distress to assist in your decision-making and support of students exhibiting distress.

Changes in Academic Performance:
  • excessive absences or tardiness
  • participation avoidance
  • dominating classroom discussion
  • grade problems
  • repeated requests for special considerations
  • falling asleep in class
Changes in Appearance:
  • swollen or red eyes
  • dramatic weight gain or loss
  • unusual physical appearance or significant changes in grooming/hygiene
Behavioral Changes:
  • depressed/lethargic mood
  • disruption in regular habits like eating and sleeping
  • exaggerated emotional responses to situations
  • significant difficulty concentrating
  • hyperactivity
  • expressed hostility toward friends, classmates, etc.
  • acting significantly withdrawn
  • talking explicitly about suicide, hopelessness, or homicide.

Coping with Tragedies


As we attempt to live our lives to the fullest, we encounter an increasingly unpredictable and violent world. We all at times suffer from secondary or vicarious victimization. David Baldwin’s trauma information pages offer excellent supportive information, as does the National Center of Posttraumatic Stress Disorder. We encourage students to schedule an appointment with a counselor, should their stress continue to be of concern to them.

How You Can Respond:
  • Let the student know you are concerned
  • Talk to the student in private when you both have enough time and when you are willing to give them your undivided attention
  • Listen to their thoughts and feelings in a sensitive and non-threatening way.
  • Avoid judging, evaluating, or criticizing. Avoid labeling the student or their behavior.
  • Explore what the student has done previously to resolve the problem.
  • Determine if professional help is necessary.
When Professional Expertise May Be Necessary:
  • If the problem is beyond your expertise
  • You know the student personally and do not feel you could remain objective
  • If the problem is recurring and little progress has been made
  • You are feeling overwhelmed or experiencing high stress levels
  • If there is immediate danger to the student or someone else.
If Professional Help Is Needed:
  • Encourage the student to contact the Counseling Center to set up an appointment (x7206).
  • Remind them that the services are free to PLU students and that information about what one can expect during the initial appointment is available on our website.
  • You could also offer to go with them to set up an appointment and express interest in hearing about how their appointment goes.
  • If you find yourself in a life threatening or emergency situation.
If you think someone is suicidal
  • Educate yourself about what suicidal tendencies may look like. Visit the Know, Ask, Tell suicide prevention page for more detailed information.
  • Take them seriously
  • Ask them if they have thought about or attempted to harm themselves
  • Listen to their concerns
  • Urge professional help
  • Avoid moralizing or being aggressive. Don’t try too hard to reassure the person, instead listen and acknowledge their pain.
  • If the person is acutely suicide, do not leave them by themselves. Arrange for help, and stay with them until help arrives. The counseling center has a compiled a list of who to contact in an emergency situation.