Please refer to the
and see the information below that explains when professional counseling may be beneficial to a student and how to make a referral. Information about other types of referrals, consultation services, and the issues of confidentiality are also discussed. Included is additional information on Mandated Psychological Assessments.
Students often experience significant changes in their lives during the course of their education. Such changes, at times, become stressful enough to pose serious threats to the academic progress which students hope to achieve. The stress of academic, social, family, work, and/or financial concerns are often inter-related and may result in a student turning to you for help. In fact, anyone who is perceived as knowledgeable, caring and trustworthy may be a potential resource in times of trouble.
If such a problem arises in the life of a student, it is likely that given your frequent contact with students, you may be a valuable resource in identifying such difficulties early. Your timely expression of interest and concern may be a critical factor in helping students solve problems that are interfering with academic success. Thus, your position and interaction with the student body represents a critical point of contact between the student and potential resources to help that student achieve their full academic goals.
A referral for personal counseling should be considered when you believe a student's problems go beyond your own experience and expertise, or when you feel uncomfortable helping a student with some issue. A referral may be made either because of the way the student's problems are interfering with his or her academic work or with your teaching, or because your observation of the student's personal behavior raises concerns apart from her or his academic work.
Some more easily recognizable indicators that a student may be experiencing more stress than he or she can handle include:
Each student experiences stress differently, and many disturbances in the 17 to 22- year-old age group are relatively transient. However, you may become alarmed by even brief changes which are extreme, or by significant changes that continue for some time. If there is doubt about the seriousness of the problem, consult with Counseling Services about how to evaluate the situation and take the most appropriate steps.
In speaking to a student about counseling, it is important to keep in mind some of the negative reactions a student may have to the idea, and be ready to discuss them. You can explain to the student that counseling is not just for extreme situations (many students have normal "problems of living"), nor does it encourage dependency (counseling is time-limited on campus). Counseling does provide a chance to explore feelings and resolve problems with the help of an objective, sensitive and concerned listener.
Except in an emergency, the option must be left open for the student to accept or refuse counseling. If the student is skeptical or reluctant for whatever reason, simply express your acceptance of those feelings so that your own relationship with the student is not jeopardized. Give the student room to consider alternatives by suggesting that perhaps you can talk again after the student has had time to think it over. If the student declines your recommendation for counseling, respect their decision and leave the situation open for possible reconsideration later.
Once a student has agreed that counseling might be useful, there are several possible steps you may take, depending on the student's attitude and the urgency of the situation.
Many students are ambivalent about counseling. It is advantageous when the student is motivated to seek help. Coercing a student to go to counseling is not likely to have positive results in the long run. Generally, unless there is some immediate concern about the welfare of the student or others, it is better to try to maintain your relationship with the student rather than force him or her to go to the Counseling Office. The prospect of counseling can always be brought up at a later time when the student may be more receptive to the idea.
When a student goes to the Counseling Office (or calls), an appointment will be made for an initial interview. In an emergency, arrangements will be made to see the student as soon as possible.
The initial interview is intended to learn what is troubling the student, and to assess what services would be most helpful; e.g., individual or group counseling, or a referral to a more appropriate service.
If on-going counseling is appropriate, regular appointments will be scheduled, usually 45 to 60 minutes once a week.
Students can take comfort in knowing that services provided at the Counseling Office are confidential. Information is released only with a student's written permission. This means that a counselor cannot discuss the student's situation with a faculty or staff member unless the student provides written permission . If you would like to know what occurred after you referred a student for counseling, we encourage you to ask the student directly. Exceptions to confidentiality may occur if the student is felt to represent a clear danger to themselves or others, if they make their counselor aware of an abusive situation, or in the case of court-ordered subpoenas.
If you have concerns or questions, staff members at the Counseling Office are available to help you:
Lisa Barresi, LCSW 859-572-5650
Associate Director, Counseling Services