Referral Guide

Guide to Making Counseling Referrals

At some time every student feels stressed, anxious or depressed.

However, when these feelings persist over a long period there may be a problem which is greater than those faced by the general student population. The following will guide you in deciding if a student should be referred to counseling.

What to look for in a troubled student

A student in crisis may:
  • be hostile, aggressive, violent
  • speak incoherently with unconnected thoughts, garbled or slurred speech
  • see, hear or believe things that are not present or possible
  • talk openly about suicide or make homicidal threats.

What to do for a troubled student

A student in crisis needs immediate help.
  • Do not leave the student alone.
  • Contact the University counseling staff at 717-871-7821 or emergency contact person at Witmer Infirmary at 717-871-4636 or the University Police at 911.
  • Stay with the student until help arrives. Reassure the student.
  • Be calm, maintain eye contact and listen nonjudgementally.

Student referrals to counseling

A student with significant emotional distress or one who manages but needs help should be referred to the University Counseling Center. Students vary in their acceptance of a referral to a counseling center. The following steps will make it easier for you.

  • Do not hold the discussion in a public place.
  • Be calm, maintain eye contact, focus on what is said without making judgements.
  • Acknowledge student's concerns as important but do not overstate the concerns.
  • Inform student of the free, confidential counseling services on campus.
  • Offer them your phone to make an appointment or even walk with them to the Center.
  • If they refuse a referral, accept that with respect for their decision. Say something like: "Please take the telephone number and should you change your mind you can reach specially trained people who have helped many other students."

If you would like a printed copy of the "Guide to Making a Counseling Referrals," please contact the Counseling Center at ext. 7821 and a copy will be sent to you.