Referring a Student to Help

How to Make a Referral

When you have determined that the student might benefit from personal counseling or medical intervention, it is usually best to speak directly to the student in a straightforward fashion that will show your concern for his or her welfare. It is not advisable to attempt to deceive or trick the student into seeking help. Be specific regarding the behaviors or symptoms that have raised your concerns, and avoid making generalizations about the student.

Here are some guidelines to help faculty and staff members in talking to a student who needs help:

  1. Be prepared. Learn the basic facts about the issue you are confronting.
  2. Discuss how you feel about the situation with someone you trust before approaching the student.
  3. Choose your time and place carefully.
  4. Be clear and straightforward when speaking with the student.  Give specific examples.
  5. Confront behavior not values.
  6. Communicate your concern for the student rather than dislike for the behavior.
  7. Become familiar with the support services that are available to refer the student.

EXCEPT IN EMERGENCIES, the option should be left open for the student to accept or refuse help.  If the student is reluctant for whatever reason, simply express your acceptance of those feelings so that your own relationship with the student is not jeopardized.  Give the student an opportunity to consider your recommendations by suggesting that he or she might need some time to think it over.  If the student emphatically refuses, then respect the decision and leave the situation open for possible reconsideration at a later time.

If the student agrees to the referral, suggest that he or she immediately call to schedule an appointment.  You may offer to let the student use your phone to set up the appointment.

Follow up with the student at a later date to show your continued interest even if the student did not follow through with the referral.  *Please note: Due to professional legal and ethical standards, Counseling and Health Services staff cannot reveal information regarding a student without written permission from the student (exception: if a student demonstrates he is at imminent risk of harm to self or others).

I f you believe the student is in danger of self harm or harm to others, a mandated referral may be in order.  Call the Senior Associate Dean of Students (215-951-1916), the Director of Community Standards and Support (215-951-1530) or the Director of the Student Counseling Center (215-951-1355) for assistance.

When to Make a Referral

A referral is usually indicated in the following situations:

  • The student’s emotional or physical problems are interfering with their academic performance.
  • The student’s emotional or physical needs require immediate attention.
  • You observe signs or symptoms of distress and/or maladjustment in a student, indicating a need for intervention.
  • A student presents a problem or requests information about a medical or emotional issue which is outside your range of knowledge.
  • You suspect that a student is misusing alcohol or other drugs.
  • The student is unsure or lacks confidence about their choice of major or future career paths.
  • You know the student on other than a professional basis (i.e. friend, neighbor, relative, etc.).
  • The student has recently experienced one of the following:
    • Death or illness of a friend or family member
    • Relationship breakup
    • Divorce in family
    • Rape, sexual assault
    • Medical problem
    • Academic failure