Referring Students to Psychological Counseling

As faculty and staff members, you may occasionally come in contact with students who display unusual or worrisome behavior, or may share with you personal information about which you do not feel qualified to address. In such cases, especially if the behavior is impairing the student's performance or the performance of others, or there is a dramatic behavioral change, you may want to initiate a discussion about counseling with them. During the meeting:

  • Note the behaviors about which you are concerned.
  • Be matter of fact, respectful and direct. Don't minimize your concerns or try to deceive students into talking with a counselor.
  • Leave the final decision to the student. With the exception of an emergency, a student has the right to refuse a referral.

You may want to consult with Janie MacHarg, Director of Student Health & Psychological Services, at (310) 243-3818, before meeting with the student. They or a member of their staffs can listen to your concerns and recommend methods for addressing issues with the students.

Available Services on Campus

Psychologists are located in Student Health & Psychological Services, located between Welch Hall and the University Theater. Demand for services is high, and there is sometimes a waiting list for students seeking psychological counseling. If you are concerned that a student poses a danger to themselves or to others, call 911 or the Campus Police Department.

For Your Information

  • All psychological counseling services are free to currently enrolled students.
  • Psychological Counselors are available to see students Monday through Friday from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. in the summer, with additional hours on Tuesdays and Wednesdays until 6:00 p.m. during the academic year.

Referring the Student

After discussing the situation with the student, you can refer them to either the Career Center or the Student Health & Psychological Services unit in one of the following ways:

  • Suggest the referral and leave it up to the student to make an appointment.
  • Call Student Health & Psychological Services, x3818, to inform the staff that the student will be contacting them or coming in.
  • Walk the student over to Psychological Services in the Health Center, Room A 141.

Confidentiality: The client-counselor relationship is confidential, except in those few circumstances where the law requires disclosure of confidential information. (e.g. harm to others, child abuse, etc.). Only upon the individual's written request will any information be released to other people or agencies about participation in psychological counseling. This means that the counseling staff cannot confirm if the student has come in for counseling or inform you about the student's case. However, you are encouraged to ask the student if they have gone to see a counselor and to ask how it is going. This will show a continued concern and interest on your part, and is generally well received by the student.

For further information about counseling services, call Student Health & Psychological Services at (310) 243-3818.

Behavioral Warning Signs

The following are some warning signals which may indicate that psychological counseling would be appropriate. Use your best judgment to determine if intervention is necessary or would be helpful.

Signs of Depression

  • Dramatic change in weight.
  • Extreme guilt or self-blame for present or past events.
  • Frequent crying spells.
  • Sleep difficulties; unexplained physical problems.

References to Suicide - Any direct reference to suicide is cause for immediate referral to counseling.

  • Feelings of helplessness, hopelessness and/or worthlessness.
  • Preoccupation with death; giving away valued possessions or talking of doing so.
  • Suicidal thoughts, threats, or plans.

Unusual Behavior

  • Withdrawal from usual social interactions and activities.
  • Suspiciousness and feelings of being persecuted.
  • Inappropriate or bizarre conversations; talking to self.
  • Frequent outbursts of anger, crying or aggressiveness; extreme agitation.
  • Signs of eating disorders: talk of binging, vomiting, or secretive eating.

Personal or Relationship Concerns

  • Difficulty in coping with the death or serious illness of a family member or close friend.
  • Difficulty in coping with relationship problems. Severe self-esteem problems; extreme shyness.
  • Talk or evidence of sexual or physical abuse (childhood or recent attacks).

Academic Changes That May Indicate Other Emotional Problems

  • Dramatic decline in academic performance.
  • Dropping several classes; talk of dropping out of school.
  • Exaggerated reactions to poor grades (excessive crying, hysteria, anger).

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