Why Should We Get Involved?
We at the Citadel Counseling Center believe there is a powerful rationale for faculty or staff members to intervene when they encounter distressed students: the inability to cope effectively with emotional stress poses a serious threat to students’ learning abilities. As a faculty or staff member, your expression of interest and concern may be a critical factor in helping a struggling student reestablish the emotional equilibrium necessary for academic survival and success.
College-age young adults are at particular risk for significant emotional difficulties. In addition to normal developmental and adjustment struggles students may experience, the symptoms of many significant psychiatric disorders first appear in young adulthood.
Your willingness to respond to students in distress will be influenced by your personal style and desire to help students grow, emotionally as well as intellectually.
Counselors are available at the Citadel Counseling Center to provide telephone consultations with faculty and staff concerned about students. Whenever there is any doubt about whether or not a student could benefit from seeking assistance at the Citadel Counseling Center, please call and we will be glad to discuss the situation with you. Additional information about “Consultation” is located in the “Consultation & Education” section of our website.
How Can I Recognize a Student in Distress?
At one time or another, most students feel depressed or upset. Students may experience increased stress due to personal or family problems, academic difficulties, or crises such as the death of a loved one. As a result, their behavior may change or their academic performance may deteriorate. These students may benefit from counseling.
The following lists may help to identify some symptoms which, when present over a period of time, suggest that the problems with which the student is dealing are more serious than the “typical” concerns.
Marked Change in Academic Performance or Behavior
- Poor performance and preparation
- Excessive absences or tardiness
- Repeated requests for special consideration especially when this represents a change from previous behavior
- Avoiding participation
- Excessively anxious when called upon
- Disruptive behavior
- Exaggerated emotional response that is obviously inappropriate to the situation
- Isolation from friends and classmates
Unusual Behavior or Appearance
- Depressed or lethargic mood
- Irritable or angry mood
- Significant anxiety or excessive worry
- Hyperactivity or very rapid speech
- Deterioration in personal hygiene or dress
- Dramatic weight loss or gain
- Strange or bizarre behavior
References to Emotional or Life Stressors
- Problems with roommates, family, or romantic partners
- Experiencing a death of a significant other
- Experiencing a physical or sexual assault
- Experiencing legal difficulties
- Any other situation that is experienced as a loss or stressor
References to Suicide, Homicide or Death
- Feelings of helplessness or hopelessness
- Verbal or written references to suicide
- Verbal or written references to assault
What If I Am Not Sure Whether to Refer a Student or Not?
Counselors are available to provide telephone consultations with faculty and staff concerned about students. Whenever there is any doubt about whether or not a student could benefit from seeking assistance at The Counseling Center, please call and we will be glad to discuss the situation with you.
How Do I Approach The Student In Distress?
- Openly acknowledge to the student that you are aware of his or her distress or change in behavior.
- Express your sincere concern for his or her welfare and your willingness to help.
- Be direct and honest.
- Request to speak with the student in private, when both of you have the time and are not rushed or preoccupied.
- Express your concern in behavioral, nonjudgmental terms, explaining the specific behaviors you have observed that are concerns to you.
- Listen carefully and be empathic.
- Encourage the student to make an appointment at The Citadel Counseling Center.
How Do I Refer A Student for Counseling?
- Suggest that the student call or come in to the Counseling Center to make an appointment. Give the Counseling Center phone number and location to the student.
- Ideally the student will make the appointment on his or her own. However, if you wish to be certain the student makes an appointment, call the receptionist at the Counseling Center while the student is in your office and offer the phone to the student to schedule the appointment.
- If you consider the situation to be an emergency, please convey this information when contacting the Counseling Center.
- Follow-up with the student by inquiring as to whether he/she kept his/her appointment and how he/she felt about the session.
- If you are concerned about a student, but are uncertain of the appropriateness of the referral or if the student resists a referral, feel free to call the Counseling Center for a consultation.
What Information Should I Give the Student?
Before you refer a student to counseling, you should have the following information available:
- Citadel Counseling Center – 843-953-6799
- Citadel Public Safety – 843-953-5114
Services at the Citadel Counseling Center:
- Individual, short-term counseling
- Counseling is free
- Counseling is confidential
Special Urgent Needs:
- A student can call the Counseling Center, describe the urgent need, and request an immediate appointment. Faculty and staff may not schedule counseling appointments for students.
Emergencies and Hospitalization:
- Call Public Safety at 843-953-5114 if there is a possible life threatening emergency and request transportation to the hospital
What if The Student Refuses My Help?
Seeking therapy is a personal choice. No one can make the choice for another person. If the person is reluctant or refuses to visit The Counseling Center (and it is not an emergency):
- Don’t force the issue, simply restate your concerns and the available options.
- Suggest that confronting a problem is a positive sign of health and maturity.
- Acknowledge, validate, and discuss the person’s concerns about visiting The Counseling Center.
- Remind the student that the staff at The Counseling Center comply with state laws and ethical principles which require them to maintain confidentiality.
- Be friendly, remain open and available to help in the future.
- Suggest that the student take some time to think it over.
What About Emergencies?
An emergency is defined as situation in which a person’s life is in immediate danger (i.e., suicide threat or threat of danger to self or others). Emergencies are more than you, alone, can be expected to help with. In emergency situations involving students who are unwilling or unable to seek help on their own, call The Counseling Center at 843-953-6799 and speak with one of the counselors. In the event of an emergency, the student can meet with a counselor immediately. If it is after hours, call the Infirmary at 843-953-6847, Public Safety at 843-953-5114, or dial 911.
What Can The Student Expect From His or Her First Session?
At the student’s first visit to The Counseling Center, he or she will be asked to fill out information forms before seeing a counselor. The student’s first appointment with the counselor will typically be an intake interview in which the student and the counselor begin an assessment of the student’s needs and the ways in which The Counseling Center or other services might be able to help.
What About Confidentiality?
All services at The Counseling Center will be kept confidential. When a student is referred to The Counseling Center, faculty and staff should not call the student’s counselor and ask for updates on the student’s condition unless the student has signed an authorization to release information form. By law, counselors are not permitted to give faculty or staff any information unless the student has given him or her specific written permission. Faculty or staff are encouraged to ask the student directly about his or her appointment at The Counseling Center.
The only legal and ethical exceptions to confidentiality are the following:
- The student is in danger of injuring him or herself or others and there is a clear and substantial risk of imminent serious harm.
- The student reveals information about abuse or neglect of a child and/or a vulnerable adult.
- A court order is issued for information from a counseling file.