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Making a Student Referral to Counseling & Psychological Services

Sometimes students who are pursuing their academic agenda are negatively impacted by issues such as family or personal problems, academic difficulties, or career concerns. It is the role of Kutztown University Counseling & Psychological Services to assist these students so that they may function as fully as possible and successfully complete their academic pursuits.  The following information is provided so that faculty, staff, and administrators - as well as parents or caregivers of students - can know what steps to take in making a successful referral for counseling services.  If you have immediate concerns about the welfare of a student, please visit our Emergencies page.  Counseling center faculty are available to consult with you to help you determine whether a referral is appropriate - please contact us if we can be of assistance.

Why might a student seek counseling services?
College life can be stressful, and at times, talking to a professional counselor may be helpful. Counseling services are available to help students "talk through"  their problems or difficulties.

Students commonly seek counseling for feelings of depression, anxiety, fear, or confusion. Poor study habits or difficulties with concentration may also be of concern.  Family problems, developing and understanding relationships, sexuality and sexual orientation, self-esteem, eating and weight problems, and recovering from trauma or abuse are other common presenting issues for college students.

What is the role of faculty, staff, and administrators in the referral process?
Faculty, staff, and administrators can play a vital role in helping troubled students find appropriate assistance with their concerns. This page outlines some typical college student problems and suggests tips on how to make a successful referral. 

What should I look for in a troubled student?
Every college student feels stressed, depressed, or anxious at times. When these feelings persist over a long period, however, there may be a problem greater than those problems faced by the general student population. There are three levels of behavior that indicate distress:

Level 1

Although not disruptive to others, these behaviors may indicate that help is needed:

  • Serious grade problems
  • Excessive absences
  • Unusual pattern of interaction (i.e.: entirely avoiding participation, excessively anxious when called upon, dominating discussion)
  • Excessive activity and rapid speech, swollen eyes, change in personal dress and hygiene, anxious behavior, falling asleep in class

Level 2

These behaviors may indicate significant emotional distress and also a reluctance or inability to acknowledge a need for personal help:

  • Repeated requests for special consideration
  • New or consistent behavior that pushes the limits of decorum
  • Unusual or exaggerated emotional response

Level 3

These behaviors usually show students in obvious crisis who need emergency care:

  • Highly disruptive behavior
  • Garbled, slurred speech and/or unconnected or disjointed thoughts
  • Seeing/hearing things that aren't present
  • Beliefs or actions greatly at odds with reality
  • Overt suicidal thoughts
  • Homicidal threats

Making the Referral 

As faculty or staff member, you may have students reveal emotional upset associated with very diverse concerns from relationship problems, to anxiety disorders, to suicidal thinking. At that time, you are in a position to refer them for counseling. The following information may be useful as you refer a student to counseling.

Is this a life threatening situation?

Was there a verbal or written threat or an attempt to hurt her/himself or someone else?

If YES, please contact the Counseling & Psychological Services Office immediately at 610-683-4072 or Public Safety at 610-683-4001. Remain with the student or delegate a responsible staff person to remain with the student while you make your crisis calls.

If NO, please proceed with the counseling referral:

  • Meet in a confidential location.
  • Be calm. Maintain appropriate eye contact and focus on what is said without making judgments. 
  • Acknowledge the importance of the student's concerns. Emphasize that seeking help is not a weakness.
  • Tell the student of the confidential counseling services that are provided at no additional cost on campus. Emphasize that counseling information is not a part of the university's record. 
  • Tell the student that typically students meet with a counselor for a consultation to determine what services will be helpful to them.
  • Ask the student if you can call the center for an appointment. If the student says yes, call and explain the situation to the receptionist in the student's presence. The receptionist will tell you what to do next.
  • If the student doesn't want you to make the call or referral, respect that decision but let the student know that he or she can speak with you again if they change their mind and want a counseling appointment.