Referring a Student to Counseling
Making a referral to counseling
If you know someone who seems to be struggling with extreme stress or other difficulties, then you might consider referring that person to the Kean Counseling Center.
Signs that a student may be struggling
- Negative changes in the student’s emotional state, such as sadness, tearfulness, anger, irritability, fatigue, apathy, dramatic weight gain/loss, sleep difficulties, nervousness, agitation or excessive worry
- Strange or bizarre behavior
- Marked decline in personal hygiene
- Talk of suicide or of wanting to hurt others
Tips for making a referral to counselingSome students may be wary of counseling because they don’t know what to expect. Here are some tips for making the student more comfortable with the idea of coming to counseling.
- Normalize the situation by explaining that many people use counselors to discuss everyday problems in their lives.
- Reinforce that counseling is confidential.
- Emphasize that counseling provides a chance to explore feelings and solve problems with the help of an objective listener.
- Stress that the need for counseling is common, especially in college. Nearly half of college students surveyed have reported feeling so depressed that it was difficult to function. (source: American College Health Association-National College Health Assessment, 2006)
- If possible, have the contact information or a counseling center brochure on hand when you discuss it with the student. Brochures are available at our office in Downs Hall, room 127. Give him/her the contact information and encourage him/her to make an appointment, but please remember that it is ultimately the student’s choice as to whether or not they do.
What to do when the situation is more urgentIf a student expresses suicidal thoughts (ideas, plans or intent to kill him/herself) or homicidal thoughts (ideas, plans or intent to kill another), then the situation is urgent. In this case, you may do one of several things:
- Notify either an RA/RHD (if the student is a campus resident) or faculty/staff member who knows the student, such as a professor or dean.
- Call the counseling center directly at 908-737-4850 and ask to consult with a counselor. The counselor will ask you to share concerns about the student and for specifics about what the student may have said or done to make you concerned. At that point, the counselor will reach out to the student if appropriate or take other action if warranted.
- After business hours, call the Kean police at 911 if you are concerned in any way about the health and safety of a student.
Promoting healthy boundaries
- When dealing with a struggling student, you should never take on the responsibility of counseling that student yourself. Even with the best of intentions, this can have a negative impact on both you and the person in need of counseling.
- Instead, focus on referring her/him to formal support services, such as the Kean Counseling Center. Recognizing and respecting appropriate boundaries will be a healthier approach for both the student and for you.
- Also, please understand that due to issues of confidentiality, counseling center staff will be unable to share any follow-up information with you regarding the student you’ve referred without the student’s permission.
Call the Kean Counseling CenterOur counselors are available during business hours to answer any questions you may have and/or to consult about specific students. Our number is 908-737-4850.
Dr. Andrew J. Lee
Counseling and Disability Services
Downs Hall, DN 127
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