Counseling Center Helps Faculty and Staff Identify Students in Distress

Posted: November 1, 2005 at 1:00 am, Last Updated: November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

By Ryan Call

Confronting a troublesome roommate and dealing with an especially strict professor are not the only problems college students face; they must also tackle increasingly complicated issues, such as how to define themselves in this new stage of their lives, how to discover their goals, and how to achieve them.

Most students tend to react positively in addressing these issues. Other students are more challenged and may try to cope with the pressure in negative ways. These students often hesitate to seek help or are unaware of the resources available.

“Universities across the country have been experiencing a significant increase in the number of students who are dealing with these more complex issues by using unproductive coping strategies,” says Counseling Center Acting Director Adrienne Barna.

Barna sees the faculty and staff as important to helping these students. “Faculty and staff are most often the ones who have contact with students and identify the need for a student to get support in managing these issues and being able to function successfully in the university.”

Classes, work-study jobs, mentor programs, and other official university situations often establish a student and faculty or staff member’s relationship. Besides creating a fulfilling academic partnership, these interactions can develop into mentoring relationships or friendships.

Both professional and personal relationships with students give faculty and staff an opportunity to provide support that can make a significant difference for the student as the student encounters new challenges or experiences crises. However, while a faculty or staff member’s intervention can relieve some situations, others demand more experienced help.

That’s where the University Counseling Center comes in. The center’s staff members are available to work in partnership with faculty and staff and assist them in supporting students. The center also publishes a referral guide that outlines the process for referrals, the first step being to identify students in distress.

The Counseling Center is available to any faculty or staff member who feels the need to discuss how to handle a student’s distress or talk about his or her own feelings about the situation. Center staff can also detail the center’s services and other resources for the student in question.

For more information about the University Counseling Center, see the web site or call 703-993-2380.

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