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Consult with Us
If you are unsure of how to handle a specific student, call Personal Counseling Services at (805) 437-2088. A brief consultation may help you sort out the relevant issues, explore alternative approaches and identify other resources.
Making a Referral to Personal Counseling Services (PCS)
PCS offers individual treatment for CI students. Early intervention is preferable to crisis intervention. Encourage students to seek help confronting, coping with and resolving personal problems before they develop into major obstacles to their success.
If you feel that professional counseling might be beneficial, refer the student to PCS. Be direct in letting the student know that you believe a therapist would be of help in this situation. Inform the student that the services are strictly confidential and free of charge. Don't force the issue if the student takes a defensive posture; simply restate your concerns and recommendations. An independent decision by the student to seek help is best.
If you would like Personal Counseling Services to call the student, first let the student know what your specific concerns are and request the student's permission to have a counselor call him/her. Then call our office at (805) 437-2088 and ask to speak with a counselor. let the counselor know your concerns and provide the student's name and phone number.
If the student's situation is life-threatening (to self or others), it is critical that the student or faculty member inform PCS. We are available on a "same-day" basis to see a student if the situation is life-threatening. If the situation seems urgent, you might offer to accompany the student to the Counseling Center.
Sometimes faculty or staff attempt to refer students who have been experiencing academic difficulties to PCS requesting a letter "verifying" personal problems that may have interfered with their academic performance.
At times serious personal problems do interfere with one's ability to concentrate on studies. Although counselors want to be supportive when they can, it is important for faculty, staff and students to understand that counselors cannot confirm difficulties of which they have very little knowledge.
If students have no counseling record with PCS other than an initial screening, a crisis intervention session or a drop-in session, a letter may only confirm that the student came to PCS and disclosed difficulties that may or may not have affected academic performance earlier in the semester. This type of letter is usually not very helpful and should not serve as verification that PCS supports excused absences and/or withdrawal from the course.
On the other hand, if a student has been seen for ongoing counseling while experiencing psychological difficulties, counselors may be able to write a supportive letter. Note, however, that PCS will only write a letter supporting the withdrawal from only one course under extremely rare circumstances. We assume that if the psychological condition was significant to cause the type of distress that would warrant late withdrawal from one course, then the student will likely need to withdraw from the semester. The letter, therefore, would support a retroactive withdrawal from the entire semester.
If you believe a student is experiencing personal difficulties that may be negatively impacting his/her academic performance and that he/she might benefit from counseling, it is generally most helpful to suggest that the student seek counseling early on, in order to help prevent such difficulties impacting them later on in the semester.
Students who have not had ongoing counseling sessions at PCS are encouraged to seek letters of support from individuals directly involved with their case such as past or present psychological/psychiatric providers, medical doctors or other appropriate professionals.
If a student has a documented disability for which he or she is requesting or receiving accommodations, please refer him or her to Disability Resource Programs (DRP) for assistance. Again, the earlier these services are set up, the more likely these problems can be prevented in the future!
Adapted from the web pages of Sonoma State University Counseling and Psychological Services.