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Counseling Services: When to Refer

When to refer a student to counseling:


In many situations, faculty and staff can assist students without the intervention of a counselor. This can be accomplished through empathetic listening, problem solving, validating or normalizing concerns, providing unconditional acceptance and reassurance, and offering advice. In some cases, students need additional intervention to remove barriers to their academic success. The following list provides some examples of when a referral may be appropriate.

  • If repeated attempts to be helpful have been made and the student has not responded and remains distressed.
  • The student has experienced a sudden change in motivation, performance, hygiene, or mood.
  • The student seems to be growing more isolated from others.
  • When the student is facing a significant life change and you have noticed some level of impairment in their academics. This could include homelessness, job loss, divorce/separation, custody issues, relocation, loss of a loved one, or becoming a new parent.
  • You sense a growing attitude of hopelessness or helplessness.
  • As an instructor or staff member, you feel like you are being pulled into dynamics that make you uncomfortable. You might feel like the student is asking for leniency that is not offered to other students. Or, you might feel that a student's personal problems have interrupted your ability to teach.
  • You've observed (or heard rumors of) drug or alcohol use that exceeds what is considered normal.