Referring a Student for Professional Help

When to Refer                                                                                                                                           


In many cases of student distress, faculty and staff can provide adequate help through empathic listening, facilitating open discussion of problems, instilling hope, conveying acceptance, giving reassurance and offering basic advice.

In some cases, however, students need professional help to overcome problems and to resume effective functioning. The following signs indicate that a student may need some form of assistance:

  • The student remains distressed following repeated attempts by you and others to be helpful.
  • The student becomes increasingly isolated, unkempt, irritable or disconnected.
  • The student’s academic or social performance deteriorates.
  • The student’s behavior reflects increased hopelessness or helplessness.
  • You find yourself doing ongoing counseling rather than consultation or advising.
  • The student shows significant and marked changes in behavior and mood.

How to Refer

  • Speak to the student in a direct, concerned and caring manner.
  • Because students may initially resist the idea of counseling, be caring but firm in your judgment that counseling would be helpful. Also be clear about the reasons that you are concerned.
  • Be knowledgeable in advance about the services and procedures of Counseling and Psychological Services and other campus help-giving agencies. The best referrals are when the student knows what to expect and whom they will likely see.
  • Suggest that the student call to make an appointment, and provide the phone number 828.227.7469 and the location, Bird Building, second floor.
  • Offer the student the use of your phone or call the receptionist yourself while the student waits in your office.
  • The student will more likely follow through with attending an appointment that was “publicly” made and agreed upon in your presence.
  • Ask for an emergency appointment that day if you feel the student cannot wait for the first available initial appointment.
  • Walk the student up to Counseling and Psychological Services and ask to see a counselor immediately if you feel the student is unable to wait (e.g. suicidal or unable to function or take care of self) for an “emergency” appointment.
  • If you need help in deciding whether it is appropriate to make a referral, call Counseling and Psychological Services 828.227.7469 for consultation with a counselor.
  • Counseling and Psychological Services staff will also come to your department or staff to speak further regarding referrals or Counseling and Psychological Services procedures and services. Please call 828.227.7469 to schedule.
  • If the student prefers resources off campus, explain that Counseling and Psychological Services also maintains a list of community referrals for specialized services.

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