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Identifying and Referring the Distressed Student. Counseling & Psychological Services Center (CAPS) 106 Lee Hall (540) 654-1053. Tevya Zukor, Ph.D., CGP Director & Licensed Clinical Psychologist. Characteristics of Distressed Students. Academic Difficulties

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identifying and referring the distressed student

Identifying and Referring the Distressed Student

Counseling & Psychological Services Center (CAPS)

106 Lee Hall

(540) 654-1053

Tevya Zukor, Ph.D., CGP

Director & Licensed Clinical Psychologist

characteristics of distressed students
Characteristics of Distressed Students
  • Academic Difficulties
    • Poor academic performance or declining performance
    • Excessive absences or tardiness
    • Chronic indecisiveness or procrastination
    • Repeated requests for special considerations
    • Increased worry about grades despite adequate performance
    • Increased dependence or neediness by the student
    • Change in Academic Status
      • Academic Probation or Dismissal
characteristics of distressed students1
Characteristics of Distressed Students
  • Unusual Behaviors
    • Changes to classroom behavior
      • Lack of concentration, Lack of energy, Appearing sad, Lack of care of self including appearance and hygiene
    • Changes in emotionality
      • Increased irritability, sadness, or disruptiveness in class
    • Changes in ability to be clear in speech, organizing thoughts, or having bizarre content to thoughts
    • Aggressive or threatening behavior
      • Overt speech or behavior
      • Covert signs - Clenched jaws, fists, glaring at others
    • Smell of alcohol or evidence of substance abuse
characteristics of distressed students2
Characteristics of Distressed Students
  • Traumatic Changes in Students Lives
    • Loss or impending loss of a significant person through illness or death
    • Difficulties in personal relationships
      • Separation, Divorce, Change in custody of children
    • Loss of job or changes in financial circumstances
    • Change in personal circumstances
      • Loneliness, Coming out, Personal illness
  • Positive events may also be stressful
    • Marriage, Pregnancy, New job
characteristics of distressed students3
Characteristics of Distressed Students
  • References to Suicide or Homicide
    • References to Suicide or Homicide
    • Indicators of prolonged suffering or unhappiness
    • Covert references to suicide
      • “My family would be better off without me.”
    • Overt statements or references to suicide
    • Written or stated references to hurting oneself or others
    • Acquiring means to kill oneself and/or others
      • Buying a gun
working with distressed students
Working with Distressed Students
  • Each employee has a wealth of knowledge about students based on experience and intuition
    • Trust your observations of overt behavior as well as your reaction to the individual
  • Talk to the student directly
    • Early connection and intervention can only help
  • Clarify your role as a concerned faculty/staff
  • Listen carefully to what the student is saying or may not be saying
    • Denying problems while clearly upset
  • Don’t be afraid to ask direct questions
    • Asking about suicide does NOT increase risk
making a referral when
Making a Referral - When
  • Student discloses a situation that is beyond your expertise or comfort level
    • Admits to being suicidal
  • Student wants a response from you that exceeds your background, training, or availability
  • Student is reluctant to respond to you because of various concerns
    • Not wanting to cross boundaries
    • Gender issues
    • General discomfort
making a referral how
Making a Referral - How
  • Meet at a time and place where there is privacy
    • End of class can be a difficult time
  • Avoid being isolated or alone with a student
    • Consider leaving the door ajar
  • Talk directly to the student about your concerns
  • Be supportive
    • Avoid criticizing or being judgmental
  • Prepare to recommend a specific course of action
    • Referral to counselor, clergy, advocacy group
  • Student can sign a release allowing follow-up conversation with a treatment professional
emergency situations
Emergency Situations
  • Know how to reach campus security or police
  • Have a clear emergency protocol in place
  • Know where to report critical information
    • Dean of Student Life – Cedric Rucker
  • Develop “safety” word to be used if needed
    • “Please call Dr. Armstrong for me.”
  • Develop list of resources to be used in an emergency
    • Health, Psychological, Natural disaster
title ix
Title IX
  • Federal civil rights law that prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex in ANY education activity that receives federal funding
    • Title IX is not just about athletics!
  • Discrimination includes sexual harassment, rape, and sexual assault
    • Courts have found that even one instance of sexual assault or rape meets this standard
  • Faculty and Staff MUST report all allegations to Title IX Coordinator
    • Do NOT promise confidentiality
    • Can discuss need to protect other members of community
  • UMW Title IX Coordinator – Leah Cox (
    • Required for all public universities
  • UMW Sexual Misconduct Policy