Counseling Center Quick Facts and FAQs: Information for Faculty and Staff

Contact Information

Phone: 413-542-2354 

Website: https://www.amherst.edu/campuslife/counseling

Business Hours: 8:30-4:30, Monday – Friday

After-Hour Counseling: Available 24-7-365 by calling 413-542-2354

Locations: Scott House at 14 Hitchcock Rd, and Hitchcock House at 271 S. Pleasant Street

How to Schedule an Appointment

There are three ways for students to make an appointment:

(1) Call our front office at 413-542-2354 between 8:30am-4:30pm

(2) Email counsctr@amherst.edu

(3) Fill out our online appointment request form

Clinical Services

24/7 and Urgent Care Services

  • Urgent Care is provided to students who need same-day service and cannot wait for a scheduled appointment.
    • Morning Urgent Care Hours: 9:00-12:00, Monday - Friday
    • Afternoon Urgent Care Hours: 1:30-4:30, Monday - Friday
  • After-Hours Crisis Counseling is available by phone to all members of the Amherst community.  To reach an after-hours counselor on evenings, weekends, or holidays simply call the Counseling Center’s main line at 413-542-2354.
  • 24/7 Text and Chat is available through Amherst’s MySSP (Student Support Program) app. Students can download the app onto their smartphone through the App Store or Google Play Store, or access this through computers with chat capabilities. Student do not need to be in crisis to access this resource, and all of these services are free.

Regularly Scheduled Services

  • Single Session Treatment. One-time, 50-minute appointments are available most days for students who wish to access a counselor once to address specific issues or problems that are causing immediate concerns or distress. These appointments are solution-focused, and designed to help students make quick changes.
  • Individual Counseling is available to all enrolled students, and most students receive brief, bi-weekly treatment.  Common concerns include anxiety, depression, relationships, academic worries, perfectionism, recovering from trauma, identity concerns, eating concerns, and family issues.
  • Groups: We offer a variety of therapy groups, drop-in support groups, and educational skills-building classes. Call the Counseling Center or visit our website for a current listing of the support groups we offer. 
  • Psychiatric Medication Management is available to all enrolled students. Either a Counseling Center or Student Health Service provider must refer students for their first appointment.
  • Case Management is provided to students who need support from a variety of resources on- and off-campus.  Our case manager can help students make appointments with off-campus providers, figure out insurance, educate them about what supports other offices offer and help students access the services, assist with health care transitions as students come to college or graduate, and provide additional on-campus support if a student is receiving psychotherapy off-campus.

Other Services

  • Consultation is available to faculty, staff, students, and parents seeking advice on how to respond to students of concern, or other issues that are related to a students’ mental health. Consultations are also available to students considering a career as a psychologist or social worker. To access this service, simply call our office and ask to consult with one of our mental health counselors.
  • Presentations and Workshops on mental health topics are available upon request.  Please call our office at least two weeks ahead to discuss the event and assure that we can meet your needs.
  • The Pantry is a resource that students could access anytime we are open, without any questions asked. Some of our students struggle financially and find it difficult to afford even small items like shampoo, soap, lotion and toothpaste. We decided to try to address some of that need by creating The Pantry. Drop by either of our locations or by our branch in Keefe Campus Center to see what is available.

FAQ’s

What are some warning signs that a student may be struggling with a mental health concern?

  • Suicidal ideation is mentioned or alluded to in a conversation, email or a paper 
  • Deterioration in physical appearance or personal hygiene
  • Excessive anxiety, worry, or fears, including panic attacks
  • Excessive fatigue, exhaustion, falling asleep in class repeatedly 
  • Missing classes, assignments, meetings, especially if this is out of character
  • Emotional volatility, including angry or hostile outbursts, yelling, or aggressive comments, expressions of hopelessness or worthlessness, unusual crying or tearfulness
  • Signs of self-injury including noticeable cuts, bruises, or burns
  • Shakiness, tremors, fidgeting, or pacing 
  • Disorganized speech, rapid or slurred speech, confusion
  • Making statements that are bizarre, don’t make sense, seem out of touch with reality

What should I do if I’m concerned about a student’s psychological or emotional wellbeing? 

  1. Let the student's Class Dean know about your concern. They will help you think about the best ways to approach the situation.
  2. You can refer them to the Counseling Center. Talk with the student about your concern using non-judgemental language, and describing the changes you’ve seen. Let them know you care, and that you’ve found some resources you think might be helpful. If they are open to it, call our office while you are together to set up an appointment to talk with one of our counselors. 
  3. You can consult with a Counseling Center staff member about your concerns. We can help you think through how to talk with the person about your concerns, how to refer them to our services,  how to take care of yourself in the relationship if it has become difficult,  and/or if there are other actions that might be needed from you, the Counseling Center, or other campus resources.   All you need to do is call the Counseling Center and ask to consult about a student, and we will usually get back to you the same day if we’re not immediately available.
  4. You can submit a Care Report using amherst.edu/go/reporting. When community members submit a Care Report, a Student Affairs Case Manager receives it and reaches out to the reporting party to gather more information about the concern, typically within a business day. Case Managers find it most helpful to be transparent with the student about the reason for our outreach, and for that reason we encourage reporters to let students know when they’ve submitted a report. On rare occasions, it may be counterproductive for the student to know who reached out with concern. Case Management’s goal in making initial contact with the reporter is to assess the student’s current challenge and understand the nature of the relationship between student and reporter, as well as other support networks being utilized. Case Management will refer students to the Counseling Center when mental health is a concern. 
  5. Contact ACPD immediately by calling 413-542-2111 if you are concerned that a student may harm themselves. Care Reports are not monitored 24/7. 

How long does it take to get a first-time appointment?

Urgent care appointments are available same-day, as are many of our groups and skills-building classes.  Single session treatment is usually available within a few days. First-time appointments for on-going counseling usually can be scheduled within one to two weeks. Psychiatry appointments for medication management require a referral from either a Counseling Center staff counselor or from Health Services, and can usually be scheduled within two weeks. 

I’ve heard about trauma-informed teaching practices. How can I incorporate these practices in day-to-day ways?

Trauma-informed teaching takes into consideration the fact that trauma affects learning.  The psychological and psychological impacts of trauma can impede the capacity to learn, so creating classroom environments that decrease students’ anxiety responses can actually help them be better learners. Here are a few tips that may be helpful:  

  • Show empathy, compassion, and understanding.  Students have likely had difficult experiences over the past couple of years — deaths, financial difficulties, dealing with racism, political turmoil, mental health challenges in themselves and their families, isolation, just to name a few. Don’t pretend that everything is back to normal. When appropriate, give opportunities to talk about how they are doing, what it was like for them last year, and let them know that they are not alone in their struggles. You don’t need to fix anything — validation of students’ feelings and experiences alone often helps them relax.
  • Predictability helps settle anxiety. Many students don’t know what to expect upon coming to campus, since they may be new to our community or may have been gone during the first phases of the pandemic.  The campus has changed, and so will their experience of it. Letting students  know what to expect from you and your course, and being clear about your expectations of them will be helpful. 
  • Don’t assume students know the resources here. Name resources explicitly,  teach students how to access them, and normalize help-seeking. Do this again and again, because often people need to hear information more than once. 
  • Create opportunities for relationships to build and deepen.  Many students don’t have the natural supports that help sustain them — like close friendships, relationships with faculty or staff — because they weren’t here last year or are new this year. Loneliness and isolation have reached all time highs, and are risk factors for other problems like anxiety and depression. Create opportunities in classes and work settings for them to get to know other students, to deepen their connections, and to feel a sense of belonging.  
  • Consider starting your classes, meetings, and other gatherings with a centering activity. Invite students to talk in pairs for two minutes about the things that have been on their minds. Start class with 2 minutes of deep breathing. Ask students to write for two minutes about what they need to let go of to be present for the next hour. You get the idea. Knowing that they will have a couple of minutes to transition and quiet their minds creates predictability and trust, decreases anxiety, and allows students to be more present and more able to take in new information. 
  • Be mindful of your own emotions. You likely have had a very difficult time for the last several months, too, so take time to attend to your own emotional needs, and practice self-compassion and self-care. Doing so will allow you to be less anxious, more present to your students, and more cognitively engaged with your work.