In your unique position as a faculty/staff member, you may be the first to recognize when personal difficulties are affecting a student's academic performance or social relations. It is not, of course, the responsibility of any staff/faculty member to deal one-on-one with a student's emotional difficulties. Perhaps we can help, either through consultation, providing information, or help in facilitating a referral. In emergency situations involving a student unwilling or unable to seek our services, you may call UCPS at (610) 758-3880 for support and consultation.
How can I respond to students who disclose personal concerns to me?
- Listen attentively
- Empathize with the feelings being expressed. Try to understand what the student is saying
- Be as genuinely supportive as feels appropriate to you
- Keep your own limits in mind; for example, don't get more involved in the student's life than is comfortable
- Except in cases where you may reasonably suspect that there is a potential for self-harm or danger to others, a student has the right to refuse treatment
- Encourage the use of the counseling center by suggesting that others have found it helpful
- Check back with the student to see if they are doing better
What are possible warning signs to look for?
- Appears depressed, withdrawn, and little motivation for academic pursuits
- References to suicide
- Is not attending class, failing exams, or failing to hand in assignments
- Frequently falls asleep in class
- Comes to class smelling of alcohol
- Appears to be inebriated or high in class
- Frequently appears to be agitated, distracted, or distant
- Loses interest in her or his personal appearance
- Exhibits odd, peculiar, or bizarre behavior
- Has experienced some recent or past trauma that is interfering with his/her ability to function
- Seems highly anxious or "stressed out"
- Has interpersonal difficulties/relationship problems
A referral is usually indicated in the following situations:
- A student presents a problem or requests information which is outside your range of knowledge
- You feel personality differences which cannot be resolved between you and the student will interfere with your helping the student
- The problem is personal, and you know the student on other than a professional basis (friend, neighbor, relative)
- A student is reluctant to discuss a problem with you for some reason
- You do not believe your contact with the student has been effective
What about confidentiality?
Because communication between a therapist and a client is confidential, we cannot discuss a client's situation, or reveal that counseling is being received, without the client's written consent. These limits of confidentiality do not apply in situations where a student poses an imminent risk to him-or-herself or others. If you wish follow-up information on someone you have referred, please ask that individual to provide us with permission to speak with you. If you do not hear from us, it is likely that permission has been denied.
How to refer a student to UCPS
When you have determined that a student might benefit from counseling services, it is usually best to speak directly to the student in a straightforward fashion that will show your concern for his or her welfare. Be specific regarding the behaviors that have raised your concerns, and avoid making generalizations about the individual. Be aware that some students may reject your efforts, may deny any troubles, and/or may feel intruded upon. Generally speaking, most students will feel appreciative of your interest and concern and your contact with them might be an important step toward their dealing with their problems. If you have questions or concerns about approaching a particular student, feel free to call UCPS for help. Except in emergencies, the option must be left open for the student to accept or refuse counseling. If the student agrees to the referral, the student may call or go to UCPS located on the 4th floor of Johnson Hall to make an appointment.
Emergency Situations When You Should Get Help Immediately
- Expression of suicidal thoughts
- Expression of homicidal thoughts
- Severe loss of emotional control
- Gross impairment of thinking ability
- Loss of connection with reality
Phone calls and face-to-face consultation services are a regular part of our responsibility to the college community. We guide and inform concerned individuals regarding concerns about students. Our staff can make recommendations as to how to speak with the student, and how to refer to the Counseling Center. In most situations, UCPS staff act as a consultant to the person calling, helping that person to respond more effectively to the student of concern. We are also available for in-service workshops, presentations and provide programming on a variety of topics to staff/faculty groups.