or signed. No formal evaluation occurs. The most reluctant
students can meet with counselors anonymously.
Most importantly, Let’s Talk is described as “consultation
and support” rather than counseling. Students are encouraged to “just drop by” or “come for a few minutes” if they are
unsure about speaking with a counselor. Conversations are
informal, often focusing on a specific environmental or interpersonal stressor, and usually do not fill a full 50-minute hour.
Some students come once or occasionally and never need
additional intervention; others require a higher level of
support and would clearly benefit from formal counseling.
Let’s Talk provides a forum to engage these students so they
are more likely to visit the counseling center. After beginning
to build a relationship, Let’s Talk staff can more easily convince
a student who is wary of counseling to receive more intensive
mental health services. In most cases, the student can work
with the Let’s Talk counselor in formal counseling if he or she
prefers. The Let’s Talk counselor can also facilitate a referral to
a psychiatrist at the counseling center if and when medication
CCI is staffed by two full-time psychologists who advise
faculty and staff on supporting students who are struggling
with emotional or environmental stressors. In most cases,
these students have already been unsuccessfully referred to
traditional counseling or an alternative such as Let’s Talk. CCI
counselors offer suggestions for resources and advocacy and
may enlist other campus personnel who have relationships
On occasion, the student support relationship will evolve
into a counseling relationship after the student is successfully
engaged in initial problem-solving.
Innovative Programs Benefit Students,
Expanded Safety Net
The primary administrative benefit of implementing programs
such as Let’s Talk and CCI is the expanded safety net provided
for students at greatest risk. Residence life staff, academic
advisors, and other student affairs professionals have clearer
and easier access to the support and expertise of the counseling center as well as to alternative referrals for students who
would traditionally not seek counseling. Student affairs staff
are less likely to find themselves as the sole source of support
for students. This collaboration leads to an improved perception of the counseling service and the division of student
affairs in the eyes of the campus community.
Integration with Alert/Care Teams
Many higher education institutions have created alert teams
or care teams comprised of administrators, faculty, staff, and
campus safety professionals who meet regularly to discuss
students who are experiencing difficulties. Cornell’s alert team
was formed in 2005. These teams bring together information
from multiple sources on campus to create a complete picture
As demand for counseling services increases,
counseling centers must rethink how case
flow is managed.
with students in a coordinated effort to strengthen students’
safety nets. On occasion, CCI counselors “case manage” the
university’s response to students who are psychotic or suicidal,
but are unwilling to seek help. The CCI counselor will coordinate the actions of campus police, residence life personnel, and
others to intervene in a caring way at the appropriate time.
In certain cases, a campus professional may refer students
to the CCI counselor for a service called “student support.”
Like the “consultation and support” service that Let’s Talk
counselors provide, it is distinct from counseling. Student
support focuses on immediate problem-solving, advocacy, and
accessing resources. For example, a CCI counselor may work
with a student who is in financial crisis to find additional
funds to enable him or her to complete the semester. The CCI
counselor has the flexibility to meet with a student outside of
the counseling center. For example, meetings may take place
in an advisor’s office, the student union, or a residence hall.
of a student who may be struggling. Plans are made to offer
the most appropriate resources to help alleviate distress.
Considerable overlap often exists between the functions of
CCI and the alert team. Often, CCI has already consulted
with many of the contacts a student has on campus before his
or her name reaches the alert team. To better integrate services, a CCI counselor is present at all alert team meetings to
consult on cases from a mental health perspective, spearhead
intervention when the skills of a clinician are required, and act
as a point person for complicated cases involving psychotic or
disruptive students who are not accessing services. Often, CCI
counselors provide a clear avenue for case disposition.
A Complement to Counseling and Mental
As demand for counseling services increases, counseling
centers must rethink how case flow is managed. Cornell, like