The faculty member is usually the first member of the College community to notice a troubled student. Here are a few steps towards helping the student in distress:
Initiate contact by asking to meet with the student at a mutually agreeable time when there will be an adequate period for extended discussion, if necessary.
Meet the student in a relaxed, private setting.
- Give your reasons for seeing the student in an open and direct manner. Give your observations of the student’s demeanor in class without making interpretations or conclusions. You might say you have “noticed” or “observed” some aspect of the student’s behavior, or that the student “appears” to show some problematic behavior.
- Allow the student to respond; refrain from making a quick judgment or giving advice right away. Make sure that you responses show you understand the student’s dilemma, and that you care about him/her. You might say:
“I think I can understand how difficult things are for you.”
“It sounds like you’re having a hard time right now.”
“I can see it is hard for you even to discuss how you feel.”
“I understand that you believe there is nothing wrong. Perhaps I got the wrong impression.”
“If you don’t feel comfortable talking to me about these matters, perhaps you would find it easier to talk to a counselor, privately and confidentially.”
- Try to guide the student to more fully express and clarify his/her feelings and thoughts. Some examples:
“Have there been any changes in your life?”
“We all have feelings like this sometimes. It usually helps to air how you feel, even if you can’t resolve your difficulties quickly.”
“The harder you try, the less successful you seem to feel.”
“Try to put your feelings into words.”
“Tell me more about that.”
- Decide how you can most effectively help the student. Can you provide direct support to help the student resolve these problems?
- Suggest that the student see a mental health counselor if his/her problems seem too extensive or complex for you to provide direct assistance.
Counseling Services: 307-686-0254 ext. 2011