As a faculty or staff member, you are in an excellent position to recognize behavioral changes that characterize the emotionally troubled student. A student’s behavior, especially if it is inconsistent with your previous observations, could well constitute a “cry for help.” Your ability to recognize the signs of emotional distress and courage to acknowledge your concerns to the student are often noted by students as the most significant factor in their successful problem resolution. You can have a profound effect by openly acknowledging your awareness of their distress, expressing your concern, and willingness to help them explore alternatives. Whenever possible, speak directly and honestly to a student when you sense academic and/or personal distress.
- See the student in private-this may help minimize embarrassment and defensiveness.
- Acknowledge your observations and perceptions of their situation and express your concerns.
- Listen carefully to the student’s issue and try to view his or her perspective without necessarily agreeing or disagreeing and also explore alternatives.
- Attempt to identify the student’s concern as well as your own concerns or uneasiness.
- Strange and inappropriate behavior should not be ignored-Comment directly on what you have observed.
- Involve yourself only as far as you want… In an attempt to help a troubled student, you may become more involved than time or skill permits, so a referral to the Counseling Center is appropriate. Call (540) 665-4530 from your office to have the student connect to us or walk the student over to the top of Cooley Hall, Room 301. Counseling Center staff can also come to your office to meet the student. Please note that the Counseling Center provides free and confidential services to all matriculating students who are enrolled in degree-seeking programs.