Seattle Central College Counseling Department Frequently Asked Questions.
A student on academic probation informs me that they have been seeing a counselor. Can I reach out to that counselor to obtain more information regarding the student’s needs?
Yes. You can reach out to a counselor, but the counselor cannot provide any information (or even confirm or deny that they are seeing/ have seen a student) unless the student has signed a release of information specifically designating the type of information to be shared.
A teacher complains to me that a student is creating a problem in the classroom and the teacher would like help with the student. Can I request that a counselor come to a meeting to discuss this specific student’s needs, and academic plan?
Yes and no. If the student has signed a release of information and requested that the counselor attends a meeting to advocate for the student then it is appropriate for a counselor to attend the meeting as a student advocate. A counselor can still attend the meeting and provide general consultation regarding potential general classroom management strategies and accommodations but the counselor cannot discuss a student or provide information about a student without a specific release.
A student is having a behavioral problem in class. Can I refer the student for counseling?
Yes, but counselors cannot perform disciplinary actions and counseling should not be part of a disciplinary consequence. Follow up regarding a student’s participation and progress in counseling will only occur at a student’s explicit request, once a release of information has been signed. A student has the right to refuse to release this information. Please note that this is also a situation where a B.I.T. report should be submitted.
A student is currently acting out in class and is creating a safety hazard for the teacher and the other students in the class. Can I contact a counselor to come handle this situation?
No. In a situation involving the immediate safety of students and staff/faculty campus security or 911 should be immediately contacted. According to Washington State law, counselors are prevented from practicing outside of their areas of competence. At this point in time counselors at Seattle Central are not trained to provide “real-time” de-escalation to students with severe/acute behavior stemming from a mental health disorder or substance abuse.
A student tells me that they are fantasizing about suicide. Should I refer the student to a counselor?
Yes. Immediately. Our counselors can offer resources and support to assist students with these feelings.
So what exactly is the role of a counselor?
First and foremost our counselor’s role is to support the mental health and academic well-being of students at Seattle Central. Additionally, counselors provide consultation to teachers regarding general and effective classroom management strategies, they can advocate for students (with permission) at individual education plan meetings, student study teams, review boards, etc.
This information is MUCH different from how we have operated in the past. Why are these changes being made?
During a meeting with representatives from the A.G.’s office and the Washington State Department of Health the counseling department obtained clarification regarding the roles and responsibilities of a counselor as they relate to the Department of Health definition of a “counselor” and the corresponding state (WACs and RCWs) and federal (FERPA) laws that counselors must follow. The implementation of these new practices are not negotiable. However, most of them have the potential to provide an increased level of trust between counselors and students. Additionally they serve to protect students’ rights as they relate to student privacy and personal agency.