Recognizing and Helping Students in Distress

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Recognizing and Helping Students in Distress: A Guide for Faculty, Staff and Administration to Assist Students in Need at Trinity

Trinity College Counseling Center
135 Allen Place, Hartford, CT 06106

Seventh Edition, August 15, 2016

Table of Contents

Letter to Colleagues…. 4

Counseling Center General Information…. 5

  • About the Counseling Center… 5

  • Making a referral….5

  • Availability….6

  • Consultation….7

  • Consultation….7

What to Look For… 8

  • Helpful signs…8

  • What to avoid…8

Distressed vs. Distressing Students… 8

When and How to Intervene … 9

Responding to Students Who Confide in You… 9

Responding to Students in Emotional Distress… 10

Responding to Anxiety… 10

Responding to Depression… 10

Responding to Eating Disorders… 11

Responding to Psychotic Disorders… 12

Responding to Suicide Possibility… 12

  • What to look for…12

  • What you can do…13

  • What to avoid…13

Responding to Aggressive, Threatening or Potentially Violent Students… 13

  • What you can do…14

  • What to avoid…14

Responding to Survivors of Sexual Abuse… 14

  • What you can do…15

  • What to avoid…15

Responding to Responding to students who are victims of sexual harassment… 15

  • What you can do…15

  • What to avoid…16

Responding to Victims of an Abusive Dating Relationship… 16

  • Cycle of abuse…16

  • Warning Signs…16

  • What you can do…16

  • What to avoid…17

Responding to Substance Abuse… 17

  • Signs that a student may have an alcohol problem…17

  • Signs that a student may have a drug problem…17

  • What you can do…17

Responding to Hate Crimes/Incidents… 18

  • What you can do…18

  • What to avoid…18

Responding to Victims of Hazing… 18

  • What you can do?...19

Learning Disabilities Procedures for Faculty and Staff… 20

  • What you can expect as a faculty member…20

Learning Disabilities Procedures for Students… 22

  • What you can do…23

Campus Resources… 24

July, 2016

Dear Colleagues:

The Counseling Center begins its fifty-fourth year this fall, having been in existence since 1963. We are available to all Trinity students at no charge. We typically see about one-third of the student body each year, and most students who come to the Counseling Center do so of their own accord. However, sometimes they are referred by others. Faculty and staff members who have frequent contact with students are often in an excellent position to identify troubled students and assist them in obtaining appropriate help. A student might directly confide his or her concerns to you; another student might share concerns about a classmate or roommate; or through observing the student’s behavior you might infer that he or she is emotionally distressed.

Our students struggle with anxiety, depression, stress-related disorders, eating disorders, physical illnesses, family and relational problems, financial crises, learning disabilities, and other significant challenges. Of course, all of these have the potential to significantly affect their academic performance. It is easy to feel overmatched by the challenges our students may present. Recent news events and tragedies (both on and off college campuses) such as Orlando, Sacramento, or right here in Connecticut in the tragic Newtown shootings of 2014, have also given rise to concerns about early identification of students in trouble.

Also, since Trinity, like all colleges and universities, complies with the 1973 Americans with Disabilities Act, many faculty members have had questions about how these accommodations affect their classes and what their responsibilities are with regard to students with special accommodations.

While we in the Counseling Center frequently consult with faculty and administrators on these and many other matters, we believe it is helpful to collect much of this information in an accessible document that we hope can answer many of these questions, provide information on helping students who face emotional difficulties, and to describe how faculty members and administrative staff can help by referring students to the Center, something many of you do frequently, for which we are grateful. Your work with students involves honest and compassionate conversation that ultimately helps a student in trouble find understanding, support, and the appropriate services they need.

This document is the seventh edition of what has become an annually revised and updated publication. It is also available online on the Counseling Center web site. If you have questions, concerns, suggestions about topics that should be included in the next revision, we encourage you to be in touch with us. We hope to provide the information in as succinct but complete a manner as possible and we invite your feedback.

Thank you,

Randolph M. Lee, Ph.D., Director
Kristine A. Kennen, Psy.D., Assistant Director

Counseling Center General Information

About the Counseling Center

The Counseling Center provides a full range of counseling and psychological services at no cost to all students who desire assistance in coping with personal and emotional difficulties and social relationships. In addition to counseling and psychotherapy, we offer medication consultation and evaluation for students who are in counseling or psychotherapy with our professional staff, referral to off-campus providers where indicated or requested, as well as other services.

The Counseling Center staff members are also available to consult with staff, faculty members and administrators, including but not limited to those who interact with students after hours (AOCs) on how to deal with emotionally distressed and/or distressing students. We also offer consultation and brief psychological intervention to faculty and staff themselves.

The Counseling Center can provide help with problems such as depression, anxiety, obsessive-compulsive disorder, sexual assault, stress management, social adjustment issues, homesickness, alcohol and drug issues, eating disorders and concerns, identity issues, relationship problems, and grief and anger management, to name just a few examples.

The Center is also responsible for the evaluation of documentation submitted to the College requesting special academic accommodations for identified learning disabilities in compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act. In conjunction with the Coordinator of Accommodation Resources, our recommendations are forwarded to the Dean of Students who officially grants the accommodations.

Members of the Center staff are available to talk on a variety of issues for classes, residence halls, fraternities and sororities, athletic teams, and other faculty, student, or administrative groups. Some topics presented in the past include mindfulness and meditation, depression and anxiety, eating disorders, coping with stress, test anxiety, alcohol and drug use, suicide, date rape, assertiveness training, adults with ADHD, learning disorders, and coping with grief.

The Counseling Center is staffed by three licensed psychologists: Randolph Lee, Ph.D. (Director), Kristine A. Kennen, Psy.D. (Assistant Director), and Kathryne Marinchak, Psy.D., three post-doctoral fellows: Dr. Kelly Copeland, Dr. Alex Lemiszki, and Dr. Ryan Ochoa, and several advanced graduate students in the Doctoral Program in Clinical Psychology at the University of Hartford and the University of Connecticut. Our medication consultations are managed by Mohit Manhandar, M.D. who is available for medication consultations for students who are in active therapy with one of the members of the Center staff.

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