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Guidelines for Helping Others

The Referral Process

Suggest that the student come to Counseling Services during intake hours: 1:30PM - 3:45PM . Monday through Thursday. Sometimes it may be useful for you to walk the student over to our office.

If you are concerned about a student but are uncertain about the appropriateness of a referral, feel free to call Counseling Services for a consultation.

If the situation is an emergency, call the office while the student is with you and state, "The student needs an appointment immediately."

Signs of Distress

  • Changes in academic performance, such as deteriorating class work, poor performance on examinations, or a dramatic decrease in class attendance.
  • Dependency, for example, the student hangs around you or makes excessive appointments to see a faculty or staff member during office hours.
  • Physical changes, especially sudden weight loss or gain, deterioration in personal grooming, or extreme fatigue lasting beyond a day or two.
  • Inability to initiate positive interaction with other students, for example, inappropriate social behavior or excessive shyness.
  • Apathy.
  • Bizarre or strange behavior which is obviously inappropriate to the situation, for example, talking to invisible people.
  • Behaviors that may indicate substance abuse.
  • Euphoria, inappropriate laughter, or nonstop talking.
  • Over-reaction to criticism, disagreements, and mistakes.
  • Problems in significant relationships, for example family or spouse.
  • Traumatic loss, including divorce or death of a family member or friend.

When to Refer a Student

For many students, going to college is a satisfying experience - new challenges, new friends, new ideas, but for others, it can be difficult and sometimes frightening. Some students feel alone and uncertain. Old solutions to new problems are not always working, and they need help finding alternatives. Sometimes this inability to adjust leads to problems beyond transitory frustration or unhappiness, and they need professional help.

Faculty, staff, parents, and other students provide the link between troubled students and Counseling Services.

If you have a friend, student, or know someone that you think might benefit from counseling there are different ways you can provide them with help. Depending on factors such as immediacy, severity, and parties involved, you should choose the appropriate steps to help others.

  • Talk to the student in private.
  • Listen carefully.
  • Show concern and interest.
  • Avoid criticizing or sounding judgmental.
  • Repeat back the essence of what the student has told you.
  • Involve yourself only as much as you feel comfortable. Extending oneself can be a gratifying experience when kept within realistic limits.
  • If the student resists help and you are concerned, contact Counseling Services to talk about your concerns.
  • Use Counseling Services as a resource and discuss how a Counselor can be helpful to the student.

Referral Resources

VA Suicide Prevention Handbook for Faculty Handbook