Faculty & Staff Resources
Consider referring students for counseling if their problems have compromised their ability to function academically, personally, or socially. Some signs and symptoms of student distress are procrastination and poorly prepared work, infrequent class attendance, social withdrawal, crying in the office, marked changes in personal hygiene, impaired speech or disjointed thoughts, threats to harm oneself or others, disturbing material in academic assignments, and high levels of irritability.
Tips for Referring a Student to Counseling Services
- Talk to the student in private.
- Specifically state your reasons for concern.
- Keep the focus on the actions or behaviors of that student which cause you concern.
- Listen carefully.
- Avoid criticizing or sounding judgmental.
- Discuss with the student a referral to Counseling Services. Find out if the student is aware of counseling resources at Cal Poly and refer the student to our website for more information.
- If the student is receptive, suggest that they call us for an appointment.
- It may be helpful to offer to call Counseling Services while the student is in your office to help them arrange an appointment. Make sure they write down the time, date, and name of the counselor for their appointment.
- If the student has spoken to you of potential harm, it is critical that you inform the receptionist of this when you call.
If the Student is Reluctant to Seek Counseling
- Be direct in letting the student know that you believe a counselor would be of help in this situation.
- Inform the student the services are strictly confidential and free of charge.
- Assure the student that it is acceptable to schedule a single appointment just to find out more information. Meeting with a counselor once does not lock them into a commitment to on-going counseling.
- Point out that a situation does not have to reach crisis proportions for them to benefit from professional help.
- Acknowledge, validate and discuss the students' real fears and concerns about seeking help.
- Emphasize that, although some people feel that seeking counseling is an admission of weakness or failure, in fact it takes considerable courage and integrity.
- Don't force the issue if the student resists -- simply restate your concerns and recommendations.
- Offer to accompany the student to Counseling Services or offer to assist them in setting up an appointment.
If the Student Refuses Help
- While it is important to care about the emotional well being of students, we cannot make their decisions for them and an independent decision by the student to seek help is best. If the student resists referral with the situation and you remain uncomfortable, feel free to contact Counseling Services to discuss your concern.
- If an emergency exists when Counseling Services is closed, use our emergency services.