When and How to Refer
Because faculty and staff interact with students frequently, they have more opportunities to see that a student may be in distress. These can be indicative of the need to suggest they visit the Counseling Center. Seeking counseling is voluntary for a student. However, we cannot initiate contact with a student; they must seek help on their own. In addition, without a release of information by the student we cannot provide any feedback about whether the student made contact with our office.
It may be useful to think about two different levels of referral for distressed students.
In the case of mild or moderately distressed students, it is probably appropriate to inform them about Counseling Services and encourage them to seek services on their own. In this case, when they contact the Counseling Services, they can make an appointment to meet with a therapist in an initial consultation appointment. With the therapist, they’ll determine a course of action, which likely will include continuing therapy on campus or receiving a referral for other appropriate services.
If a student is experiencing a concerning degree of distress, a crisis referral may be warranted. If you determine the student needs to be seen immediately, inform the Counseling Services front desk that the situation is urgent, and bring the student into the office for prompt care. In some instances, it might be more helpful to ask the therapist to come to you and the student to provide a consultation.
If the student demonstrates behavior that is cause for immediate concern outside of normal business hours, contact Campus Police at 281-283-2222.
In the case of urgent concern for a student, you should also consider making a report to either the Early Warning Program, which is for students in academic jeopardy, or to the Crisis Awareness Response Emergency (C.A.R.E.) team, which is for students with behavioral issues. In that case, the Dean of Students can make contact with the student and ensure they follow up with counseling or other needed referrals.
When referring students to counseling services it is useful to:
- Reassure students that it is an act of strength to ask for help.
- Explain that there are therapists committed to helping them be successful.
- Persuade the person to seek and accept help.
- Dispute the myth that only “weak” or “crazy” people go for counseling.
- Remind them that counseling services are free and confidential.
- Offer to help them make the initial contact with Counseling Services.
Classroom management is most effective when:
- Faculty engage students at the beginning of the semester in a discussion of expectations for classroom conduct.
- Behavioral expectations are included in the course syllabus, specific to standards for classroom conduct.
- Behavioral guidelines are consistently enforced and applied fairly.
- Faculty respond in a calm manner to behavioral disruptions.
- Faculty initially address mildly disruptive behavior by engaging the
Student in a conversation about their behavior in a meeting outside of class.
If you are uncertain about when or how to approach a student, about the appropriateness of a referral, or if the student resists a referral and you remain concerned, you can call Counseling Services for a consultation with a therapist. We will gladly consult with you and provide guidance about what you might want to do next.
Consultations about a student cannot be guaranteed to remain confidential, as it will be part of the student’s counseling file if they do seek services. However, at times it may be necessary for counseling staff to make this information known to the C.A.R.E. team. If you have questions about the need for a confidential consultation, please talk to the Counseling Services director or associate director.