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Belmont University | Belief in Something Greater

Helping the Reluctant

Referral Guide Description of Counseling Services | Role of Faculty & Staff Recognizing Students in Distress | Guidelines for Dealing with Distressed Students | Making a Referral for Counseling | Helping the Reluctant | Scheduling an Appointment | Confidentiality | Resources

Many people believe that only very disturbed people seek therapy, so your referral might be interpreted as a comment on the severity of the problem. Reassure the student that therapists at Counseling Services work with people with a wide range of concerns. Problems need not reach crisis proportions for students to benefit from professional help. In fact, it is much easier to work on problems if they are addressed before they reach crisis level. Normalizing the process of seeking help may be especially helpful for international students whose countries may not have similar views of psychological counseling. Reluctant students might also be relieved to know that they can speak with a therapist on a one-time basis without making a commitment to ongoing therapy. Furthermore, any contact and information shared by the student is kept strictly confidential within Counseling Services and will not be disclosed to parents, faculty, or other University departments, except with the student's written permission. Finally, it is important to acknowledge, validate, and discuss the student's real fears and concerns about seeking help. It takes considerable courage to face oneself and acknowledge one's own limitations.

In some cases, you may find that the student has already sought counseling services at Belmont, or elsewhere, and was unsatisfied with the experience. There are many reasons why counseling may not be successful in a given situation. Please encourage the student to consider giving counseling another try, perhaps with a different counselor.

While it is important to care about the emotional well-being of students, we cannot make their decisions for them, and counseling is always a personal choice. Occasionally even your best efforts to encourage a student to seek counseling will be unsuccessful. If the student resists referral and you remain uncomfortable with the situation, contact Counseling Services at (615) 460-6856 to discuss your concern.