photo of the Counceling Center

Photo by Luke Young

PSU Counseling Center moves to stay

Luke Young


Managing Editor


Rob Orf is a New Hampshire licensed psychologist and is serving his third year as director of the counseling center. Recently, he spoke in front of the Student Government Association in regard to the campus’s proposal to move UPD, health services, IT, and the counseling center into Highland Hall during the late spring of 2023. The basement of Highland would be dedicated to IT, the first floor would be for UPD, and health services and the counseling center would share the second floor. These offices would share a parking lot, which would hold the police vehicles, but would have separate entrances for each of the services.

In regard to this proposition, Orf consulted with professors, counseling staff, student government, and other licensed clinicians about this move. He also consulted codes A, B, and E of the American Psychological Association’s code of ethics, which give an overview of beneficence and non-malfeasance, fidelity and responsibility, and the respect for people’s rights and dignity in psychology and more specifically, psychiatry. The NH Board of Mental Health Practice also weighed in, and the center’s own mission and diversity statements were consulted. Orf also specifically consulted with counselors associated with the APA and diversity experts on campus, including Albert Ramos of the IDEA Center.

Many risks of the move were suggested, such as creating barriers to getting help, continuing stigma, and other possible triggering events that relate to sharing a building with the police station. The university police themselves are not the problem, but they could prevent people who may be having a mental health crisis from coming forward for fear of police interaction. 

The decision of the center was ultimately not to integrate or move offices, as they believed there would be an unethical risk for liability. “A prominent theme was that co-location of counseling with law enforcement was an ‘unacceptable ethical risk,’ ‘potentially harmful to clients,’ and ‘opened up liability.’” The suggestion of a satellite office operating out of the Hartman Union Building also holds the same risks, so that possibility is also off the table. He further mentioned that models that include restorative justice have been seen to work, but that no working models are available that include police colocation. The difference between the two is that restorative justice does not include firearms or arrests, and is more focused on the rehabilitation of offenders. 

Fees collected for this project will still be given to the counseling center, but not in the same way they were initially intended to. Orf concluded the subject, saying: “I strongly believe we are all on the same team here.”