How to Refer a Student

The college years can be stressful for many students. While most students cope adequately with the challenges, some students find the various pressures of life unmanageable or unbearable, which interferes with learning. As a faculty, staff, and/or student you may encounter students who want or need a support beyond what you are able to offer. Some students have never sought out counseling and/or may simply be unaware of the services available to them. Your role is an important one in identifying students who are in distress and assisting them to find the resources available to help themselves. The following guidelines might be useful.

When Is There a Need For a Referral?

  • Anxiety
  • Social/personal concerns
  • Substance abuse
  • Sexual assault
  • Relationship concerns
  • Racial/cultural adjustment
  • LGBTQ cultural adjustment, questions and concerns
  • Extreme test anxiety
  • Abrupt/radical changes in behavior, quality of work, or personal hygiene
  • Isolation from others
  • Depression
  • Dramatic weight loss or gain
  • Cutting and self-harm
  • Inability to make decisions despite repeated attempts to clarify and to encourage
  • Repeated requests for special consideration
  • Poor attendance with little or no work completed
  • Sudden outbursts of anger, high levels of irritability; aggressive, violent, or abrasive behavior
  • Homicidal threats
  • Attention/memory difficulty; distorted thoughts; impaired speech
  • Alcohol/drug abuse
  • Normal emotions exhibited to an extreme degree or for an excessive period of time, e.g., tearfulness, nervousness, fearfulness
  • Chronic fatigue or low energy; listlessness, lack of energy, frequently falling asleep in class
  • Suicidal thoughts or feelings of low self-esteem
  • Dependency on you or others, e.g., making unnecessary appointments with you
  • Unusual behaviors that are obviously inappropriate to the situation, e.g., hearing voices
  • Behavior that consistently interferes with classroom management

Tips on How to Refer and Interact with the Student

  • Talk to the student in private
  • Listen carefully
  • Show concern and interest
  • Repeat the essence of what the student has told you
  • Avoid criticizing or sounding judgmental
  • Point out that the situation doesn’t have to reach crisis proportions for him/her to benefit from professional help
  • Suggest the Counseling & Personal Development Center as a resource
  • Explain that counseling at the Counseling & Personal Development Center is free and confidential
  • Know your own limits regarding intervening; involve yourself only as far as you want to go

How to Make a Referral

  1. Suggest that the student call or come in to the Counseling & Personal Development Center to make an appointment. Give the Counseling & Personal Development Center phone number and location.
  2. If you want to be sure the student makes an appointment, call the Counseling & Personal Development Center while the student is in your office. Write down the appointment information, time, date, counselor, and location for the student.
  3. If you consider the situation to be an emergency, please convey this information when contacting the Counseling & Personal Development Center.
  4. Sometimes it is helpful for you to accompany the student to the Counseling & Personal Development Center.
  5. If you are concerned about a student, but are uncertain of the appropriateness of the referral, fell free to call the Counseling & Personal Development Center for a consultation at (814) 332-4368.