Staff access to services
Staff may attend the health service and receive medical, nursing and masseuse services.
Generally, our counselling service is for students. However, staff may attend if there is a crisis situation or problem they need immediate assistance. The counsellors are able to provide one-off sessions and may then refer the staff member to an appropriate service or the Employee Assistance Program .
Staff who are concerned about a student or student-related situation are welcome to contact a counsellor to discuss the matter. The staff member does not need to disclose the student’s identity.
The Disability Advisor can be contacted if you wish to make a referral, gain information in relation to staff or students who have a disability, discuss what constitutes an appropriate accommodation, or gain information regarding your legal obligations in relation to the Disability Discrimination Act and university policy.
If you wish to refer a student to our service, you can pass on our contact details to the student who can then ring to book an appointment or simply come in. If the student is very distressed, or you have concerns about their safety, we will endeavour to see them that day. You can speak to the reception staff about any available appointment times, or ask to speak directly with a counsellor. There is also a drop-in counselling service for students Monday-Friday between 11am-12.30pm.
Often staff have to deal with stressful or difficult situations, especially at busy times of the year. Some ideas about how to deal with difficult behaviours are set out below. Tips on managing stress are part of our self-help information.
Dealing with difficult behaviours
There may be times in your work that you are faced with managing difficult situations with students, the public or colleagues. These tips may assist to manage the situation in the most constructive way possible.
Use techniques that encourage good information flow. They save time and aggravation.
Signal verbally and/or physically your openness and willingness to listen.
- Respond verbally to phone caller…yes, uhuh…
- Appropriate eye-contact, body language to customers calling in person.
- Proximity, position.
- Making notes helps with summaries and closure (especially if situation seems difficult).
Signalling that you are getting the message in terms of content and/or feelings.
Use active listening: reflecting back feelings and content; asking clarifying questions; summarising what they have said ...
Calming emotions makes for a clearer message. Be prepared to repeat information maintaining a calm and even tone.
- 'I’m sorry that I can’t help you, you will have to see…to get the answer to that question. You will find them in room…or you can phone on extension…'
- 'I will need to deal with some of the others waiting in line now. If you take a seat I will organise someone to help you.'
- 'I have noted your concerns and will pass them on to my supervisor….Do you want me to include your name on the message?'
Acknowledge emotions, give an agitated person a little more personal space. If you are feeling manipulated or intimidated, opt for a more formal approach.
Formulate an action plan (this may include referral to supervisor). Plan follow-up contact if appropriate. Repeat details if necessary to elicit understanding.
- 'Okay, now I think that is about as far as we can go with this right now. See how you get on with…(repeat action plan).'
- 'If you want any more information about this remember you can contact…'
When you feel that the situation was difficult, upsetting, or you felt it could have been handled in a different way.
Organise a debrief/consultation within your workgroup or contact the counselling service. Customers do not have to be mentioned by name so you can maintain their confidentiality if that is appropriate.
Remember, some situations are very stressful and challenging.
It is important to have realistic expectations. After a difficult incident it is useful to review the techniques that worked well, those which were not so effective and then to consider possible modifications for future contact with this customer.
It is not productive to blame yourself or the customer if things did not work out as well as you would have liked.
Distressed or disturbed persons
Where a person is distressed while talking to you, recommend in a firm, calm manner that the person seeks support.
Eg. 'You seem very upset at the moment, I think it would be a really good idea for you to talk to my supervisor/the counselling service etc.'
Call the Counselling Service on 1-2118 in office hours or Security on 1-2880.
If the customer is agitated or angry and you are finding the situation difficult, moving your physical position may be helpful. If you decide to move then move slowly and to a position where you do not put yourself at a physical disadvantage.
Call Security on 1-2880 for help if you need assistance and leave the area immediately if you feel seriously threatened.
Always take time to debrief / consult after a difficult situation.