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Referring a Student


Students often won’t seek counseling because they don’t want to appear weak or are too proud. They might think they can work it out on their own, may fear public exposure, or they don’t know how to ask.

Approaching a student, you believe might benefit from counseling can be difficult and awkward. First and foremost, do not rush, take it slow.

  • Speak directly and straightforward, matter-of-fact
  • Be specific regarding the behaviors that have raised your concerns
  • Don’t generalize or attribute anything negative to the individual’s personality or character.
  • Don’t put them on the spot, give them breathing room to consider and suggest alternatives.
  • Make it apparent, it’s their choice
  • If a student emphatically says No, respect their decision

Guidelines to Define Your Limits of Involvement

  • When a student asks for help
  • When a student presents a problem or request for information outside your range of expertise
  • When you’ve gone as far as you can with a student and feel they could still benefit from additional help
  • When you know the student and feel it will interfere with your ability to be a non-judgmental listener
  • When a student is reluctant to confide in you about a specific problem
  • When a student has physical symptoms: headaches, dizziness, stomach pains, insomnia, all can be physical manifestations of psychological states

Signs Indicating a Need for Intervention

  • Abrupt changes in academic performance/class participation
  • Expression/communication of uncertainty with regard to goals and direction
  • Communication of experiences of personal loss
  • Inability to modify tardiness in attendance/with assignments
  • Communication of personal concerns interfering with performance
  • Communication of lack of ability, negative self-put downs
  • "Worn Out" classroom appearance/behavior
  • Abrupt/somewhat abusive interactions with others
  • Isolation/lack of interaction with others
  • Emotional outbursts
  • Suspicion of substance abuse/physical abuse
  • Communicating unrealistic goals