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For Faculty & Staff

Identifying and responding to students in distress

Our Blue Folder, titled Your Guide to Identifying and Responding to Students in Distress, is available online, in print, and through in-person presentations. 

Support for incidents on campus

Preparing for incidents on campus

Dalhousie Counselling Services staff are available to provide consultation to university departments concerning how to prepare for the management of critical incidents.

Following an incident on campus

When critical incidents occur they can have a stressful impact sufficient to overwhelm the usually effective coping skills of a group or individual. Examples of critical incidents include: serious injury or sudden death of a student, staff or faculty member; physical violence; bombing or other explosions; or other unanticipated traumatic events.

We can provide various services to help the university community deal with critical incidents. The main purpose of these services is to prevent or mitigate the negative impact of acute stress on individuals affected by the incident.

These services may include:

  • Consultation to faculty and administrative staff on the best way of helping people affected by the incident.
  • On-site support for people experiencing acute stress reactions. On-site support provides an immediate, less-formal type of debriefing, in which a psychologist goes to the site and talks with individuals or groups affected by the incident. It can help people cope with immediate effects. It also offers an opportunity for the psychologist to assess needs and to provide information about further services.
  • Psychological First Aid involves further on-site support beyond the initial contact, but soon after the critical incident. It is an evidence-informed modular approach to help reduce the initial distress and to foster short- and long-term adaptive functioning. The eight core actions of psychological first aid are:

                 1.  initial contact and engagement                
                 2.  ensuring safety and comfort
                 3.  developing stabilization
                 4.  gathering information of current needs and concerns
                 5.  offering practical assistance
                 6.  ensuring connection with social supports
                 7.  providing information on coping
                 8.  linking with collaborative services

  • Group Debriefing sessions are an optional service provided by Counselling Services staff, upon request by the relevant department. Sessions are generally two hours in length. Participation is voluntary. It is intended to be only for people directly involved in the critical incident.
  • Individual counselling for those who would benefit from services beyond immediate support or group debriefing. Normally the Centre provides individual counselling only to students of Dalhousie University and University of King's College. However we will provide brief counselling to staff and faculty following a traumatic incident on campus, and referral if further services are required.

To initiate the Critical Incident Services provided by Dalhousie Counselling Services:

  • Phone 902.494.2081, indicate that a critical incident has occurred, and ask to speak to the Director (Joanne Mills) or another psychologist.
  • After hours, phone Security at 902.494.6400. Ask to be put in contact with Dalhousie Counselling Services staff.