Let’s Talk About it: What Exactly is a Consultation?

By Jaimie Hutchison

You may have heard the WorkLife Office staff talk about “consultations” as a service that is available to you as a staff or faculty member at MSU. But what exactly is a consultation and how can it help you? A consultation is a meeting with a professional in order to seek advice, information or referrals. You can think about it as the WorkLife Office staff helping to answer your work-life questions and assisting you and your family members to find the resources and solutions that will work best for you!

It is also important to clarify the difference between a consultation and counseling. During consultations, we provide resources and referrals, on a variety of topics. Which is different from counseling where licensed professionals are able to help you with the psychosocial aspects of the issues impacting your life. Counseling is available to faculty and staff at MSU through the Employee Assistance Program (EAP). Please contact the EAP office for more information at eap@msu.edu.

Consultations with the WorkLife Office can help you identify the right fit between your work and responsibilities outside of work – we honor your work and personal lives and want you to have the tools and skills you need navigate it all!

Family and Parenting Needs

The most common topics that faculty, staff, and their family members inquire about are related to family and parenting needs, including: childcare, breastfeeding, infant care, postpartum depression, advocating for children in school (special needs children or those needing additional support), counseling for children, tutoring for children, pregnancy, infertility, adoption, foster care, divorce, custody issues, and backup emergency childcare.

Changing Family Compositions

We also conduct consultations on topics such as changing family compositions like being an empty nester, which is a big life transition that requires special consideration. Additional to consultations around parenting and caretaking for children, faculty and staff inquire about issues surrounding eldercare, pet care and the need for house sitters.

Eldercare

Eldercare is a topic growing in demand as people are navigating the care needs of their parents, such as the transitioning of living situations, legal and practical information to have in case of an emergency, how to talk to one’s parents about their changing needs, dementia, Alzheimer’s, and so much more.

New Faculty and Staff

The next most common discussions during consultations are for new faculty and staff. Topics for newcomers often include: where to live, what the surrounding areas are like, local school districts, how to navigate MSU, realtor referrals, housing options, physician referrals, dental referrals, international newcomer information about campus, East Lansing, Michigan and the US, local resources on variety of topics that new employees or families need, learning about things to do at MSU or in East Lansing.

Career Transition

Similarly, career transitions are exciting and stressful at the same time. Often, faculty and staff come in to discuss career transitions, retirement, being a new international faculty or staff member, or seeking a new position or career. We can help consider the options and how to best approach this type of transition. We can also offer assistance for difficult situations in departments, improving culture, how to approach a supervisor about sensitive issues, flexible work options, finding a work life fit – which often includes stress and time management, building better relationships with colleagues, training needs on specific topics for their department and other issues surrounding workplace assistance.

Connect with Others On and Off Campus

Sometimes visitors to the WorkLife Office are also seeking ways to connect with others on and off campus, so we discuss topics such as, networking opportunities or connecting with specific groups such as faith communities, LGBTQ communities, communities of color, volunteer opportunities or ways to get involved in the community.

For all of these reasons, and more, we encourage you to consider scheduling a consultation with us! Consultations are confidential* and can be arranged in person, over the phone, over email, or even Zoom if you are not geographically working at the East Lansing campus of MSU. You can email worklife@msu.edu to request a consultation. The MSU WorkLife Office exists to ensure MSU faculty and staff have the resources to be successful and to have a rich quality of life at MSU and in the surrounding communities.

*The WorkLife Office is confidential, but staff are mandatory reporters including topics in relation to Title IX and RVSM policies.