As a person who works with students on a daily basis, you have a special opportunity to interact with them and observe their behavior. Many students view faculty and staff members as role models for whom they have great respect and admiration. With such attitudes, they may turn to you for advice and support when they are going through periods of stress or uncertainty.
Here are some tips to help you establish an appropriate supportive relationship with students who request your help:
Signs of Emotional Distress in Students
- Talk with the student. Show interest and concern.
- Listen carefully to what the student is telling you.
- Repeat back to the student the essence of what you heard to make certain that you understood.
- Try not to come across as too judgmental or critical of the student's values
- Keep the relationship warm, but professional; do not become a surrogate parent or friend. Do not swear secrecy about what the student is telling you.
- Ascertain if the student has constructive plans to overcome the difficulties; if not, you may offer such ideas, trusting your perceptions, instincts, and experience.
- Consider the Counseling Center as a consultation resource for you or a referral resource for the student. If necessary, dispel the myth that only crazy students seek counseling.
Students will feel depressed or anxious for short periods during their college years. However, some behaviors are signs of significant distress that may warrant professional intervention. The following is a list of representative signs of behavior that may indicate that the student needs help.
How to Make a Referral to the Counseling Center
- Disruptiveness in the classroom
- Suicidal or homicidal ideation in essays, either overt or thinly veiled
- Dramatic shifts in weight, personal hygiene, or appearance
- Excessive dependence on adult role models, such as yourself, by hanging around after class or making frequent appointments to see you
- Listlessness, falling asleep in class
- Concerns expressed by other students
- Incapacitating test anxiety
- Alcohol on breath or signs of drug intoxication
- Loss of contact with reality (inappropriate references, hallucinations, or bizarre behavior that is not based on fads)
- Overly excitable or depressed mood states, possibly with fluctuations between the two extremes
Typically it is most prudent to telephone the Counseling Center after you and the student have agreed counseling would be beneficial. You should identify yourself as a faculty or staff member who is referring a student. At this point, you may ask to speak to a counselor about the situation in order to facilitate counseling. The Counseling Center can ordinarily provide same-day counseling in a crisis, but it is helpful for us to know the nature of the crisis in advance. If you do not feel it is necessary to speak to a counselor, the student can simply obtain an appointment by providing some identifying information to our receptionist. It is appropriate for you to follow up with a student to ascertain if he or she came to the Counseling Center for the scheduled appointment. Such a follow-up will indicate your continued concern. Because of confidentiality rules, the Counseling Center is not able to provide you with any feedback about a student whom you referred.
Counseling Center Services
- Personal counseling
- Group therapy
- Couples counseling
- Career counseling
- Interest, abilities, and personality testing
- Psychiatric consultation (for regular counseling clients only)
- Sexual Assault Response Team
- Crisis intervention
- Educational workshops and presentations
- Consultations with groups
- Assistance with eating disorders
In case of after-hours psychological emergencies, a counselor from the Counseling Center can be reached through Public Safety
For help in coping with sexual assaults, a Sexual Assault Resource Team
advocate can be reached during the regular academic year at 305-798-6666.