Counseling & Wellness Center

When and How to Make a Counseling Referral

Students who are in emotional distress may show warning signs that indicate that they may need professional intervention. The mission of the Campus Assessment and Response Evaluation (CARE) team is to assess a students’ potential risk to themselves or others, and to offer assistance via multiple sources (e.g., Academic Advising, Student Health Services, Student Judicial Affairs, and/or the Counseling and Wellness Center).

If you are concerned about a student’s behavior, we encourage you to make a report to the CARE team. You may also refer them directly to the Counseling and Wellness Center.

Make a CARE Referral 

When to make a counseling referral

Students who are experiencing emotional distress may show warning signs that indicate that they may need professional intervention. If you notice any of the following signs, a referral to the Counseling and Wellness Center may be warranted:

Signs of depression

  • Extreme guilt or self-blame
  • Frequent crying spells
  • Inability to find pleasure in anything and general life dissatisfaction
  • Sleep difficulties

References to suicide

  • Feelings of hopelessness or worthlessness
  • Preoccupation with death
  • Giving away possessions
  • Suicidal threats and/or having a concrete plan

Unusual behavior

  • Dependency; student is making many appointments or frequently drops by
  • Withdrawal from usual activities; self-isolation
  • Suspiciousness and feelings of being persecuted
  • Very irritable, outbursts of crying or aggressiveness
  • Signs of eating disorders

Life circumstances

  • Death of serious illness of a family member
  • Relationship problems
  • Self-esteem problems
  • Severe homesickness or graduation anxiety
  • Sexual or physical abuse

Academic problems

  • Dramatic decline in performance
  • Poor attendance
  • Difficulty concentrating, extreme procrastination
  • Doubts about ability to succeed
  • Talk about dropping out of school

How to make a counseling referral

Convey empathy and instill hope

  • "You sound overwhelmed. Would you like to talk?"
  • "You seem to be having a tough time. How are things going?"
  • "You seem stressed. I can relate. How can I help?"
  • "We don't have to figure this out for ourselves. Let's see if we can find some help.

Direct language

  • "I'm concerned about [list behavior]."
  • "I'm concerned that you seem to be trying to handle a lot on your own. Talking with a counselor may help."
  • "I'd like to help you find some help. Is that okay?"
  • "I can see you're frustrated. I'm frustrated too. Unfortunately, your behavior is disrupting the class."
  • "I cannot listen to you when you're yelling."

Communicate confidence

  • "The counselors are great here. Do you want me to help you call the Counseling Center?"
  • "The counselors have lots of information for students in your situation. Do you want the number?"
  • "The services at the Counseling Center are free and confidential." [NOTE: limits to confidentiality exist if a student is in imminent danger]