Below we've answered some of the questions that are frequently asked by students, family, faculty and staff. If we didn’t answer a question that is important to you, please contact us at (616) 526-6123 or

Who seeks help?

Every year, hundreds of Calvin students come in to the Broene Counseling Center. They come with issues such as depression, anxiety, relationship struggles, stress, eating disorders, substance abuse and other life challenges. Statistics show that students feel understood by their counselors and are recommending others to Broene.

Eligibility and cost

Students who are currently enrolled in classes are eligible for our counseling services at no cost. While counseling is free, there will be a $15 charge for "no shows" to appointments which have not been canceled or rescheduled prior to the appointment.

Students sometimes have mixed feelings about coming to the Broene Counseling Center due to uncertainty about what to expect. We hope that the answers to some common questions below will take the mystery out of what it will be like when you make an appointment. Feel free to call us if there are any other questions that we can answer.

  • How do I know that counseling is for me?

    You may wonder whether it would be appropriate to talk about your concerns with a counselor. Perhaps others who know you well have suggested counseling, or you have thought yourself that talking with a counselor might be helpful. You are always welcome to schedule an appointment at Broene to discuss whether counseling would be appropriate for you. Some specific indicators that counseling might be beneficial include:

    • emotional difficulties, such as sadness, anxiety, anger, etc.
    • relationship problems
    • difficulty sleeping
    • declining academic performance
    • recent traumatic event or loss
    • concerns about substance use
    • suicidal thoughts
    • difficulty functioning on a day-to-day basis

    If you are still unsure about whether counseling would be useful, you might want to take our Self evaluator and follow the suggestions.

  • How do I make an appointment?

    Appointments at the Broene Counseling Center can be made by calling (616) 526-6123 or stopping by the front desk. Our office is located on the third floor of the Spoelhof College Center, next to the Residence Life office. We will do our best to find an appointment time that fits well with your scheduling needs. During the school year, appointments are available Monday through Friday between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. For students experiencing a mental health emergency, crisis care hours are available each weekday from 3:30 to 4:30 p.m.

  • What will happen at my first appointment?

    When you first arrive, you will be asked to fill out an electronic intake form with contact information, demographic information and basic mental health history. This will include an informed consent form to read and sign. The registration process typically takes 5-10 minutes to complete.

  • What kinds of things will they ask me?

    Your counselor will want to make sure they have a clear understanding of your concerns prior to beginning counseling. Initial questions may relate to your moods, family history, physical health, substance use, general interests and past experiences. Your counselor will respect the pace at which you want to disclose information and work on issues.

  • Is counseling confidential?

    Yes! The Broene Counseling Center takes confidentiality very seriously, and no information will be exchanged with individuals or agencies outside of our center unless you provide us with explicit consent to do so. Your counseling record is not a part of your academic record, and information shared within counseling is not reported to Judicial Affairs, your parents or anyone else without your written consent. We recognize that a safe and confidential environment is crucial in order for you to feel comfortable sharing personal information.

    In rare circumstances, the confidentiality policy requires unauthorized disclosure of information. Such circumstances would include when the counselor believes the student's life is in danger, when the safety of others is at risk, when there is suspicion of child or elder abuse, or when requested by subpoena or court order. If you have any questions or concerns about the confidentiality policy, please feel free to talk them over with your counselor.

It is our privilege to be placed in a position to assist Calvin students. If your son, daughter or family member is a Calvin student and in need of counseling services, be assured that we are eager to help. Here are answers to some commonly asked questions.

  • I think my family member needs your services. How can I know for sure?

    Family members and parents are often the first to notice when students have trouble coping. Academic performance, personal relationships and daily behavior can all be negatively impacted by emotional difficulties. The following signs suggest the need for a counseling evaluation at Broene:

    • changes in sleep, appetite or energy level
    • social withdrawal or isolation
    • changes in behavior or personal hygiene
    • signs of excessive alcohol and/or drug use
    • expressions of overwhelming sadness, anxiety, mistrust or anger
    • changes in academic performance or absenteeism in class
    • loss of interest in activities that were previously pleasurable or meaningful
    • physical complaints without a known medical cause
    • unusual repetitive or ritualistic behavior
    • relationship problems with family or friends
    • talk or reference to suicide (whether direct or indirect)
    • previous, chronic emotional disturbance or treatment
    • recent traumatic event or loss
  • How do I encourage my family member to seek help from you?

    Talk with your family member about your concerns in a caring and direct manner, sharing the behavior or specific signs you see. Provide assurance of your support. If your family member is unaware of the Broene Counseling Center, refer them to this website. Let them know that you will be as involved as they would like you to be. Assure your family member that everyone struggles from time to time and that we all need each other—asking for help demonstrates strength and courage.

  • My family member refuses to seek help even though I'm convinced they need it. What can I do?

    It can be a helpless feeling when a family member seems to need help but is not open to seeking counseling. Provide gentle encouragement toward counseling and avoid making the issue into a power struggle. Continue to listen and be supportive. If you have concerns about the safety of your family member, do not hesitate to call their Resident Director or Campus Safety at (616) 526-3333.

  • If my family member seeks help from the Broene Counseling Center, will I know?

    A confidential counseling setting allows participants to feel comfortable and safe while addressing their concerns. Counselors are legally and ethically mandated to maintain client confidentiality. As a result, families are not provided with counseling information unless their family member has provided written consent. We want you to know that we value your relationship with your family member and are committed to providing them with quality care.

As a faculty or staff member interacting daily with students, you are in an excellent position to recognize struggling or distressed students. In fact, you may be the first person a student reaches out to for help. Your ability to recognize the signs of emotional distress and to make an initial intervention can have a significant impact on the student's well-being. Here are answers to some commonly asked questions.

  • How do I tell if a student might benefit from some extra support?

    While there is no simple method of identifying students in need of help, there are some signs to watch for as you interact with your students:

    • asking for help with personal problems
    • unusually frequent appointments to see you
    • difficulty getting along with other students
    • declining academic performance/ missing class frequently
    • difficulty focusing on a specific topic/ disorganized thinking or speech
    • disruptive behavior in class
    • references to difficulty sleeping or emotional disturbance
    • sadness/ tearfulness
    • reference (however indirect) to suicide or homicide
  • What should I do if one of my students is struggling?

    If you notice signs of distress, here are some suggestions for ways to respond:

    • Talk with the student privately to minimize embarrassment and defensiveness.
    • Be honest and direct about what you have observed and what causes you concern.
    • Focus on the specific behavior or words which have caused you concern. Don't try to diagnose.
    • Be non-judgmental. Communicate care and compassion while maintaining boundaries and limits appropriate to student and faculty/staff relationships.
    • Ask what the student has tried to do to help themself. Ask what the student thinks they need to do.
    • Do not promise confidentiality.
    • Invite the student to consider talking with someone in the Broene Counseling Center.
  • When should I refer a student to the Broene Counseling Center?

    When the problems and requests of a student are beyond your level of competence or are not appropriate to be addressed within the context of a student-professor relationship, it is advisable to refer the student for counseling. Other reasons for referral would be personality differences interfering with your ability to work with the student or a student's expressed preference to speak with someone else. If you have reason to be concerned about the student's safety or the safety of others, contact the Broene Counseling Center at (616) 526-6123 or Campus Safety at (616) 526-3333.

  • How do I refer someone to the Broene Counseling Center?

    To make a referral, provide the student with our phone number, (616) 526-6123, or email address ( You can also direct them to our office on the third floor of the Spoelhof College Center, right next to the Residence Life office.

  • After I refer a student, can I get information about how it's going?

    Confidentiality is a valuable and necessary part of the therapeutic relationship. Because of this, we will be unable to confirm that we have had any contact with your student unless we have their written permission to communicate with you. However, rest assured that we value your involvement with the student and will take any information from you very seriously. If you would like to find out how things are going with the student, it is best to do this by making a follow-up contact with them directly.

  • May I consult with a Broene counselor about a student concern?

    Yes. Please feel free to call the front desk and ask for an available counselor. Although Broene counselors cannot legally and ethically share information with you about specific students, we are able to receive information from you and offer general advice.