When and How to Refer Students for Counseling

This guide is designed to introduce reader the services of the Counseling and Testing Center, to help identify some resources for the students, and to offer information on how to refer students to counseling. The CTC also provides consultation services to others who are concerned about the well-being of our students. Clinicians can listen to your concerns about a student and offer tips/advice about how to get the student some help.  This may include faculty and staff, family members, residential advisors, and other residence life staff. Anyone may contact us regarding their concerns for a student.

Signs of Student Distress

Some common signs of student distress which warrant a referral to the CTC include:

Depression or references to suicide

Most of us have experienced brief episodes of depression in our lives. However, depression which lingers and interferes with normal patterns of functioning is likely to require professional intervention. Some common signs include:

  • Persistent feelings of sadness
  • Problems with eating or sleeping
  • Social withdrawal
  • Feelings of helplessness and worthlessness
  • Chronic feelings of fatigue, or difficulty concentrating and remembering
  • Crying at unexpected times

All references to suicide must be taken seriously rather than discounted or ignored. It is wise to check out any concerns with the student and to consult the CTC. If a student identifies a specific suicide plan, an immediate referral is critical. Please refer to our Suicide prevention resources pages.

Sudden changes in behavior patterns

Changes in a person's familiar patterns of functioning are often a sign that other problems exist. Behavior that may be a sign of concern include:

  • Withdrawal from campus community and other support systems
  • Mood shifts
  • Agitation and restlessness
  • Unexplained absences from school or work
  • Recurrent physical ailments
  • Destructive use of substances

Blocks to learning

Psychological conflicts and learning problems may impair a student's ability to learn. Examples include:

  • Excessive fear of criticism and/or rejection
  • Perfectionism
  • Incapacitating test anxiety
  • Distractibility or inability to focus
  • Procrastination or loss of motivation
  • Persistent flashbacks or traumatic events
  • Learning disabilities
  • Under-developed study skills

Significant life changes and crises

Life presents us all with sudden unexpected changes of crises and discussing them with a professional does help. Examples of such issues include:

  • Death or illness of a family member or friend
  • Divorce of parents
  • Breakup of significant relationship
  • Inability to accomplish an important goal
  • Other traumatic experiences

Additional significant issues

Students face many potential problems, all of which may not be covered in this brochure. These other issues include:

  • Eating problems
  • Sexual assault
  • Substance abuse
  • Family problems
  • Discrimination or other forms of oppression

Practical Tips for Making a Referral

  • Feel free to consult with CTC staff before and/or after you speak with the student.
  • Arrange a private time to talk with the student.
  • Keep the tone of your talk supportive. Talk with the student as if you were a concerned friend rather than an authority figure.
  • Discuss the specific things that you have seen that concern you.
  • Let the student respond to your concerns.
  • Re-emphasize your care and support, regardless of how he/she responds. Listen.
  • You may mention that other students may struggle with similar issues and that the multiple stressors associated with attending college can be overwhelming.
  • If appropriate, mention that there are people on campus or in the community who can help.
  • CTC counseling services are free. Students do not have to struggle with their issues on their own. Seeing a counselor does not become part of their academic record.
  • Remember, you cannot make students get help. The best thing you can do for them is to be supportive, inform them of the available resources, and bring in others who can help.

Faculty and Staff

Faculty and staff may contact the CTC if they encounter troubled students and are unsure how to help them. Simply call 330-972-7082 and ask to speak to a staff clinician.  This number can also be used for after-hours emergencies by pressing option #2.

If you are concerned about a student and it is not an immediate crisis, faculty and staff can also submit a referral form to the CARE Team.

United Way  - A resource for finding housing, employment, childcare, food, and prescription medications in Medina and Summit Counties.

UA students, faculty and staff also have free access to Kognito Training, an online training program that teaches skills for communicating with others about mental health concerns and motivating them to seek help when needed.

The CTC is oriented to the needs of students. If you are a faculty or staff member who would like assistance for yourself, please contact The IMPACT Employee Assistance (EAP) & Work/Life Program. This program provides confidential professional support 24 hours a day, 365 days a year by calling 800-227-6007. The IMPACT program includes access to unlimited phone consultation, six complimentary face-to-face counseling sessions per person per occurrence, plus an expansive collection of resources.

Parents and Family  

Parents, family members or guardians of current or prospective students may find answers related to registration, financial aid, deadlines for bills, and academic advising on the Family and Parent page. They may also sign up for the UA Parents and Family Association newsletter.

Set to Go - Information for both students and parents to help students make a smooth transition to college, enhance their mental health and perform well academically.

United Way  - A resource for finding housing, employment, childcare, food, and prescription medications in Medina and Summit Counties.