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EIU Counseling Clinic

Stepped Care Model



Eastern Illinois University is committed to supporting and advancing the mental health and well-being of our EIU students. Nationally, the demand for counseling and mental health interventions continues to increase. Traditionally, all student mental health concerns have been treated by one-on-one, 50 minute counseling sessions, often resulting in a waitlist. As the demand for services continues to increase, this traditional approach has become largely ineffective. As such, EIU recognizes the importance of evolving to a more sustainable avenue of care. The Stepped Care Model, implemented August 2022, strives to improve mental health access to students by taking a whole campus approach. Instead of the traditional one-size-fits-all individual counseling approach, the Stepped Care Model tailors care plans specifically for each student with a focus on fostering student advocacy and self-empowerment.  


Stepped Care at EIU

Scheduling and First Appointment (Initial Consultation) 

All currently enrolled EIU students are eligible for a free and confidential single-session appointment with the Counseling Social Associate. To get set up for an initial consultation, students can call 217-581-3413 or come into the Counseling Clinic (Human Services Building, 1st Floor, Office Suite 1200). Each student will be asked risk assessment questions prior to scheduling an initial consultation. The first scheduling process takes approximately 5 minutes. Students are generally scheduled within 2 weeks of screening, depending on risk factors (i.e. suicidal ideation, self-harm, homicidal ideation, recent trauma or abuse, recent death, etc.). The Counseling Clinic has on-call crisis appointment availability each day in the event a student needs immediate assistance. For more information on scheduling, click HERE.

First Appointment - Initial Consultation

Prior to the initial consultation, there will be paperwork for the student to complete in their Patient Portal. The information provided will assist the Counseling Social Associate to tailor coping skills, resources, and referrals specific for the student's specific needs. During this 30 min - 50 min session, the student can expect:

  1. Review and clarification of paperwork completed;
  2. Identification of mental health protective factors and risk factors (i.e. what helps your healing vs what hinders your healing);
  3. Completion of a Depression Screening (PHQ-9) and Anxiety Screening (GAD-7). Students can also complete these screenings and others HERE
  4. Brief discussion of current stressors / distress;
  5. Education and skill building for self-practice; and
  6. Discussion and recommendations for care.

Student care recommendations start with the lowest level of care appropriate for symptoms and situation. Some examples include:

  • Counseling Social Associate provides psychoeducation, workbook printouts, and coping skill handouts for the student to practice with a follow up visit in 4-8 weeks for re-evaluation.

  • Counseling Social Associate provides the same as above along with a referral to on-campus programs or support services with a follow up visit in 4-8 weeks for re-evaluation.

  • Counseling Social Associate provides the same as above and refers the client to a specific counseling group. Groups meet weekly in-person and are led by a counselor. Students are screened by group leaders prior to attendance. Students are expected to consistently attend group each week. 

  • Counseling Social Associate provides psychoeducation and coping skill handouts for the student and schedules the student for individual counseling on a bi-weekly basis with a mental health clinician or counseling intern. 

  • Counseling Social Associate provides a combination of the above and refers the student to their primary care physician, psychiatrist, or EIU Medical Clinic Psychiatric Nurse for medication evaluation.

  • Counseling Social Associate and student determine the student needs a higher level of care than what can ethically be provided at EIU. Community referrals provided to student to review and contact independently. 

  • Counseling Social Associate determines the student would benefit from further psychiatric evaluation and arranges transportation to Sarah Bush Lincoln Hospital ER. 

Next Steps - After Initial Consultation

Referred to Class at the Health Education Resource Center (HERC)

Students can call or visit the HERC's website to find program and event information. Many students find the skills learned during these programs incredibly helpful. Many students report a significant decrease in distress and an increase in healthily navigating stressful moments. During the 4-8 week follow up appointment, many students report they do not need additional services.    

Referred to Group

Students who are referred to Group Counseling will receive a call or email from the group facilitator for the purpose of completing a group screen (approximately 5 minutes). During this time, the facilitator will determine if the group is appropriate for the student. If so, the facilitator will let the student know the group start date and time along with any additional materials that may be needed. Groups meet weekly except for during University observed breaks.  

Referred to Individual Counseling

Students who are referred to individual counseling will be scheduled for an Intake appointment with a Counselor or Graduate Counseling Intern. Intake appointments are usually scheduled 2-3 weeks after the initial consultation appointment. There will be 2 additional self-report forms to complete in the Patient Portal prior to the session. It is the student's responsibility to contact the Counseling Clinic to schedule this appointment if it is not scheduled during the initial consultation. 

Referred to Psychiatric Nurse for Medication

Students who are referred to the Psychiatric Nurse in the EIU Medical Clinic will need to complete an Intake Form and return the completed form to the Medical Clinic. Students can get a copy of the Intake Form during their initial consultation or by going to the Medical Clinic located down the hall from the Counseling Clinic. It is the student's responsibility to contact the EIU Medical Clinic to schedule an appointment for medication evaluation. The Counseling Clinic does not have access to student Medical records. 

Referred to Primary Care Physician or Psychiatrist for Medication 

Students who are referred to their Primary Care Physician or Psychiatrist for Medication are expected to schedule any appointments necessary for a medication evaluation. Unless otherwise requested by the Counseling Clinic or Medical Clinic, students do not need to provide any documentation or health records stating they followed through with scheduling or attending the appointment. 

Referred to Hospital for Psychiatric Evaluation

In the event a student is referred for further psychiatric evaluation, Counseling Clinic staff will take steps to include the student in the decision-making process to the best of the student's ability. Referrals for further psychiatric evaluation occur when there is significant concern about the student's safety or the safety of others. Students CANNOT be transported to the emergency room by a friend or roommate. In the event a parent, guardian, or other authorized person is unable to transport the student, the student will be transported by EMS. This referral does not guarantee the student will be admitted to a behavioral health in-patient hospital. Hospitalization decisions will be determined by the admitting ER physician or Hospital Psychiatrist, if available. Students are responsible for contacting the EIU Counseling Clinic when released to schedule a crisis follow up appointment to discuss next steps. 

Hesitancy with Care Recommendations

At times, students may express hesitancy with the level of care recommended during the initial consultation and would prefer to be placed in individual counseling. We encourage student self-advocacy and invite students to discuss barriers to engaging in recommendations offered during the initial consultation. Through a lens of encouraging self-empowerment, Counseling Clinic staff often see capabilities and strengths in students that students do not quite see in themselves. As such, we invite students to lean into the discomfort of trying something different than expected, because, it might not work, but what if it does? During the follow up appointment, level of care will be reassessed and placement in Group or with an individual counselor may be discussed. The information and skills provided through programs or self-help material are often the same skills practiced at the start of individual therapy. 

While students are not penalized for lack of follow-through with referrals, homework, or resources provided during the initial consultation, this will not automatically result in the student being placed with a counselor during a student's 4-8 week follow up visit. All individual counseling placements emphasize the importance of independent skill practice outside of sessions.

Related Pages

Contact Information

Counseling Clinic

Human Services Bldg. 1st Floor
217-581-3413 Monday - Friday
1-866-567-2400 After Hours Emergency Number

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