Whether you are a GGC student, faculty or staff member, you may encounter situations where you would like to refer a student to Counseling and Psychological Services. Here are some things to consider when doing so.
Share Your Concern with the Student
Let the student know why you are concerned about them. Share your observations about the student's own concerns or behaviors (e.g., "I often hear you mention your worries about...," or "I can tell from our recent conversations that this is worrying you.").
- When talking to a student who appears to be in distress, please inquire if he/she is having any safety concerns in terms of thoughts of harming himself/herself or others.
- Let the student know what you believe they will gain from meeting with a counselor (e.g., "I think you might find it helpful to discuss this with someone impartial, someone who can help you sort out your thoughts and feelings," or "This is just the thing to consult with a counselor about – a counselor will know more about this than I do," or "You and I just don't have enough time together to address these concerns the way they deserve, and I think you'd get a lot out of being able to talk them over with someone at greater length.").
- If you are concerned that referring the student to Counseling and Psychological Services will be perceived as a rejection, you may wish to reassure the student (e.g., you might say "Even though you will be talking with your counselor about this issue, I want us to keep in touch about how things are going for you.”).
- Pick up the phone and offer to make an appointment for the student while the student is there with you. Or offer the phone to the student so that the student can make the appointment themselves, in your company.
- If you are wondering whether or how to bring the issue of a referral up to the student, feel free to call and consult with a counselor about it. We can also provide community referrals for students who prefer to be seen off-campus.
Let the Student Know What to Expect
Let the student know that counselors are here to help all GGC students make the most of their college experience. Be respectful of the student’s cultural assumptions about what it means to speak with a counselor.
- A student can either call or stop by Counseling and Psychological Services to make a first appointment or "initial assessment," which can usually be scheduled within a few days. If the student is experiencing an emergency, he or she should make this clear to Counseling and Psychological Services' front desk staff.
- The student will have a chance to discuss with the counselor the situation or feelings that are troubling the student, and what sort of further assistance the student might find helpful. The counselor and student will work together to locate whatever support the student needs, whether on or off campus, a brief consultation, ongoing counseling or a specialized treatment program.
All client discussions and records at Counseling and Psychological Services are confidential.
Ask the student to follow up with you and let you know how it goes. Tell the student you don't need to know the details, but you would like to hear whether they had an appointment and whether it was helpful. Understand that not all students will choose to share this information with you, whether or not they have been to Counseling and Psychological Services.
- Remember that the student's contact with Counseling and Psychological Services is confidential, so the student's counselor will not be able to give you any information, including whether or not the student has been to Counseling and Psychological Services, without the student's explicit permission.
**This page was adapted from American University’s Counseling Center website, with permission.