Referring a Distressed Student for Counseling

When Should You Consider Intervening?

In general, you should consider referring students for counseling if their problems have compromised their ability to function academically, personally, or socially, or to take pleasure in life.

Some signs and symptoms of student distress are procrastination and poorly prepared work, infrequent class attendance, lack of energy, falling asleep in class, marked changes in personal hygiene, impaired speech or garbled and disjointed thoughts, threats to harm oneself or others, and high level of irritability.

Faculty may observe other behaviors that indicate student distress, such as frequently missed classes, social withdrawal, crying in the office, or disturbing material in academic assignments.

How Should You Intervene?

Guidelines for intervention include:

      • Talk to the student in private
        • Specifically state your reasons for concern
      • Listen carefully
      • Avoid criticizing or sounding judgmental
      • Discuss with the student a referral to the Counseling Center

Ways you can assist a student who is reluctant to seek counseling: 
        • Remind the student of the Counseling Center's policy of strict confidentiality
        • Remind them that services are available at no cost
        • Point out that a situation does not have to reach crisis proportions for him/her to
           benefit from professional help
        • Acknowledge, validate, and discuss the students' real fears and concerns about
           seeking help
        • Emphasize that, although some people feel that seeking counseling is an admission
           of weakness or failure; in fact, it takes considerable courage and integrity to face
           oneself and acknowledge one's limitations.
        • Offer to accompany the student to the Counseling Center or offer to assist them in
           setting up an appointment.

What If The Student Refuses Help?

While it is important to care about the emotional well being of students, we cannot make their decisions for them, and counseling is always a personal choice. If the student resists referral and you remain uncomfortable with the situation, contact the Counseling Center at 333-5940 to discuss your concern.

If an emergency exists after Center hours, a counselor can be reached through the University Police (259-5555) or your Resident Hall Director.