Faculty & Staff Resources
RECOMMENDATIONS FOR ENGAGING STUDENT CONCERNS
If a student approaches you to talk about a personal problem or you want to try and help a distressed student, here are some tips:
- Request to talk with the student in private.
- Speak directly and honestly.
- Use a genuine, caring tone and words to help students speak about issues that may be confusing and/or embarrassing.
- Do not assure confidentiality (although you can assure the student that you will share information only with those who need to know).
- Express your concern in non-judgmental, non-critical terms. Speak candidly about your concern for the behaviors you have observed (including objective observations of behavior and why you are concerned).
- You are not expected to have all the right answers immediately; no one does. Through open questions and reflection of what you hear, you create a space in which students can sit and discuss with you the concerns that bear on their well-being and academic performance.
- Listen actively to thoughts and feelings and reflect these thoughts and feelings back to the student, when appropriate (for example, “What I hear you saying is,” “it sounds like you are saying ...”).
- Take time to explore the ways in which your student may get the support necessary for change. Be aware that support comes from a variety of areas for students, and each student differs in terms of what she or he needs when facing distress. Students may identify a need for increased support from family and friends or from therapists or clergy. Not every student in distress needs or wants traditional counseling.
- Ask a student about his or her thoughts regarding counseling before you suggest it. Students ultimately must make the
- appointment, but it is sometimes easier to do so when a trusted mentor or friend has called first and obtained information from the Wellness Center. Some students may wish to be seen off-campus and lack information about available resources.
- Use the reference guide on the second page to guide students.
- Several days to a week after speaking with a student, follow up to ask how he or she is doing, ask about efforts taken to
- address the issue previously discussed, and make direct observations about what you have noticed since speaking to the student.
- Never exceed your training. Refer the student to additional resources if necessary.
- Always trust your instincts.
- Take time for self-reflection. Make an effort to center yourself as an individual who is caring and helpful but with firm personal boundaries and realistic expectations about your role as a proactive helper.
- Consult with the deans of students, your supervisor, or your department chair about your concerns.