Talk to the student in private when both of you have time and are not rushed or preoccupied.
Give the student your undivided attention. Often a few minutes of effective listening may be enough to help the student feel cared about and more confident about what to do.
If you feel anxious, keep your door open or meet the student in a public place.
Listen to the student's thoughts and feeling in a non-judgemental way.
If you have initiated the contact, express your concerns in behavioral, non-judgmental terms. It is important for you to directly state the behaviors you are concerned about to the student. Your follow up statement should emphasize support and concern. For example “I’ve noticed you’ve been absent from class over the last two weeks and I’m concerned,” rather than “You keep skipping class. You’re going to fail if you don’t watch it.”
Let the student talk. Your job is to listen.
Communicate understanding by repeating back the essence of what the student told you.
Try to include both content and feelings for example “It sounds like you haven’t made new friends since you’ve been here and are feeling lonely and worried.”
Assure the student that things can get better.
It’s important to help them realize there are options and things won’t always seem hopeless.
Suggest resources: family, friends, clergy or professionals on campus.
Maintain clear and consistent boundaries and expectations. You are the professor/advisor/etc., not their counselor, parent or friend.
Refer to other resources, such as the CARE Team or directly to the Center for Well-Being when:
- The student asks for assistance with a problem that is outside your range of knowledge
- You are very busy and don’t have the time to give the student the time they need
- The problem is more serious than you feel comfortable handling
- The support you’ve already provided doesn't seem to be enough
- You feel overwhelmed, overly responsible for or worried about the student’s safety
- You think your personal feelings about the student will interfere with your objectivity
- The student admits there’s a problem but does’t want to talk about it
- The student is disrupting others