College students often have many personal challenges to address during the academic year. Most students are able to effectively manage personal issues, as well as and academic and social stress, without assistance. Some students, however, can benefit from counseling. Some students of concern will need additional support beyond counseling. Because of the regular contact that faculty and staff have with students, you are in an excellent position to recognize and refer students that may need assistance.
When should I alert the Deans Behavioral Assessment/Intervention Team about a student?
Faculty and Staff are encouraged to alert one of the members of the Deans Behavioral Assessment/Intervention Team with their concerns about unusual student conduct, in and outside the classroom. See below (When should I refer a student to Counseling?) for a list of student behaviors that you might want to alert the team about.
Dean Grant Azdell - Dean of Students
Dean Lauren Bell - Dean of Academic Affairs
Dean Kathryn Hull - Senior Associate Dean of Students
Dean Susan Parker - Associate Dean of Academic Affairs
Alana Davis - Registrar
Dean James McGhee - Student Conduct Administrator
Dr. Craig Anderson - Director, Counseling Services
Patrick Reape - Director of Residence Life
The Deans Behavioral Assessment/Intervention Team meets every Monday morning during the academic year. The team seeks to pro-actively coordinate College support and accountability for academic, behavioral, psychological and emotional concerns. Often the behaviors of concern in one aspect of a student's life are manifesting in other aspects of their life on campus: academically, socially, athletically, emotionally, psychologically, etc.
Faculty and staff are encouraged to report academic or behavioral concerns about a student by using the "Send Alert" form available here: Student of Concern.
Counseling Services will, with student consent, alert faculty either directly or through the office of the Associate Dean of the College when there is a legitimate mental health concern and/or crisis imparing the student's functioning on campus. Faculty and staff should encourage any student that they believe would benefit from counseling to seek support at the Counseling Center. Students, however, should not pursue services at Counseling Services for the sole purpose of obtaining a letter of support for missing classes or for a medical withdrawal from classes. The Center does not provide letters at the time of an initial consultation and cannot provide documentation regarding a student's mental health without a history of services at the Center during the specified time period. If necessary, students are encouraged to seek letters of support directly involved in their care such as past or present psychological/psychiatric providers, medical doctors, or family members.
Please note: The Family Education and Rights Privacy Act (FERPA) allows College officials to share information with one another, without prior student consent, under the following conditions (34 CFR § 99.31): when there is a "legitimate educational interest" and when College officials have direct experience of erratic or threatening behavior. FERPA also allows College officials to notify parents about imminent risk to health and safety without the student’s prior consent.
When should I refer a student to Counseling?
Students often encounter a great deal of stress during their college years. While most students cope successfully with the demands of college life, for some, the pressures can become overwhelming and unmanageable. Students may feel alone, isolated, helpless and even hopeless. These feelings can easily disrupt academic performance and may result in harmful behaviors such as substance abuse and attempts at suicide. Faculty and staff members are in a unique position to identify and help students who are in distress. This may be particularly true for students who cannot or will not turn to family or friends. Anyone who is seen as caring and trustworthy may be a potential resource in times of trouble. Your expression of interest and concern may be a critical factor in helping struggling students reestablish emotional equilibrium, thus saving their academic careers or even their lives. The following may help to identify some symptoms which, when present over a period of time, suggest that the problems with which the person is dealing are more than the normal ones:
- Marked change in academic performance or behavior
- Appearing overly emotional, agitated, anxious, distracted, or argumentative
- Avoiding contact with you
- Marked changes in dress/presentation
- Academic problems or changes in academic performance
- Excessive absences, particularly in light of previous good attendance
- Pattern of tardiness or missed assignments
- An inability to concentrate or indication of memory problems
- Falling asleep in classes and meetings
- Health concerns such as head and body aches, preoccupation with weight and exercise, or stomach problems
- Poor hygiene and grooming; marked weight gain or loss
- Alcohol or other drug abuse as evidenced by scent on clothing or breath, red or swollen dilated eyes, disorientation
How do I refer a student to counseling?
- Speak directly to the student about your concerns, preferably in private. People in distress are almost always receptive to an expression of genuine interest, caring, and concern.
- Be specific about the behaviors you've observed that have caused your concern (e.g., falling grades, drinking too much, crying a lot, withdrawing from friends, statements about suicide, etc.). Clearly stating your observations makes it more difficult for the person to deny that a problem exists and also lets the person know that you care enough to notice.
- Remember that, except in cases of emergency, the decision whether to accept a referral to therapy rests with the student. If the person refuses the idea of therapy, it's usually best not to push. Suggest that the two of you explore this matter again sometime in the future.
- Many people have negative preconceptions about therapy based upon stereotypes. Educate the student on the process of therapy. Let the person know that therapy is free and voluntary and that he or she can terminate the process at any time.
- Make sure the student knows that therapy is confidential. Tell the person that therapy sessions are normally scheduled on a weekly or bi-weekly basis and that a typical session normally lasts for 45 minutes. Let the individual know that therapists work hard to understand students, to see things from their point of view, and to then collaboratively help them to figure out solutions.
- Assure the student that, if an appointment is made with a therapist and things don't work out, he or she can ask to meet with a different therapist with whom he or she might feel more comfortable.
- If the student is really upset, or if you're worried that he or she might not follow through, suggest that the individual make an appointment now. If the person is still hesitant, offer to call for him or her. Some faculty, staff, and friends have even brought students directly to Counseling Services when that level of support has been necessary.
- Because people often mistakenly see coming to therapy as a sign of weakness, frame the decision to seek therapy as a mature choice and a healthy way to cope that suggests a person is not running away from problems.
- After the first meeting with a therapist, follow up by asking how things went during the session. If the person is ambivalent about continuing in therapy, some additional encouragement might be helpful. The therapy process is often most difficult at the very beginning, and your encouragement may help to get the person over this initial hurdle.
Why haven't I heard from Counseling Services about the student I referred?
The best way to find out whether a student has sought help as a result of your referral to Counseling Services is to ask the student directly. Due to the confidentiality of psychotherapy services, the psychologists in Counseling Services will not disclose whether or not a student has made an appointment, or has been seen by a Counseling staff member, unless the student grants explicit, written permission. Sometimes a student may wish that their therapist contact a faculty member, staff person, parent, or other individual. In these cases, the student will sign a release of information form to enable this contact with the therapist.
Counseling Release Form (PDF)
The purpose of this form is to allow for follow-up with Counseling Services after you have referred a student. The form would grant permission for Counseling Services to acknowledge that a student has been seen (or not) and/or allow consultation between the counselor and you. The student can choose one or both types of contact, or none, as signing the form is voluntary.
If you have any further counseling questions, please contact Dr. Craig Anderson, Dr. Beth Schubert or Ms. Heather Hammock at ext. 7270.