How to Make a Referral

Guidelines for Referral

The basic goals for you, in visiting with a student, are to (a) communicate your care and concern for the student, (b) make the student aware of the Counseling Center and the services we provide, and (c) inform the student about how he/she can access the Counseling Center.

  1. Learn the names of staff members in the Counseling Center. This will tend to increase your comfort in making referrals.
  2. Use a direct approach with the student and express your concern for his or her welfare. Do not attempt to deceive or trick the student into seeking counseling. Make it clear that this recommendation represents your best judgment based on your understanding of his/her particular problem(s). Be specific regarding the behaviors that have raised your concerns, and avoid making generalizations about the student.
  3. Anticipate student concerns and fears about seeking counseling. Be prepared to address typical issues presented in the next section.
  4. Create a positive attitude for the student. It is important that you firmly believe in the competence of the professional counselor and communicate that belief to the student. A successful outcome is more likely and your credibility is heightened by integrating this measure in the process.
  5. Provide information about the Counseling Center (location, cost, confidentiality). The latter is especially important as a student may be concerned that the counselor will disclose negative information to you.
  6. To make an appointment the student will need to come by the office, Student Health Building Suite 327. Some faculty or staff members have called our office to let us know they are sending the student; others have walked a student over.
  7. Leave the option open, except in emergencies, for the student to accept or refuse (a) If the student is skeptical or reluctant for whatever reason, simply express your acceptance of those feelings so that your own relationship with the student is not jeopardized. (b) Give the student an opportunity to consider other alternatives by suggesting that he/she might need some time to think it over. (c) If the student emphatically says “no” then respect that decision, and again leave the situation open for possible reconsideration at a later time. Ask the student at a later day what action he/she has taken. Even if the student did not accept your  referral it will show your continued interest in the student

Student Concerns About Counseling

Students often have a number of concerns about counseling and seeking assistance that, if not directly discussed, can deter them from acting upon a referral. It is useful to anticipate these issues and subsequently to make responses that are factual, encouraging, and appropriate.

  • Concern: Only crazy people go to counseling (and I’m not crazy).
  • Response: I don’t think you are crazy. People go to counseling for all kinds of problems. The UCA Counseling Center sees 500 students a year for individual counseling.
    Concern: Going for counseling is a sign of weakness. It shows I can’t handle my own
  • Response: You are capable of handling most of your problems. There are some, however, that are difficult to handle alone. Recognizing when you need assistance, and then getting it, is a sign of good problem-solving ability
  • Concern: Counseling won’t work for It’s not effective.
  • Response: There are no guaranteed results, that is true. There is a high probability, though, that counseling can be helpful. It has worked for a large number of students and it could work for you. Give it a try
  • Concern: The counselor will tell other people about my
  • Response: What you share with a counselor is considered confidential. Information is not released to anyone (parents, friends, instructors) without your permission.


Professional ethics dictate that the sessions conducted by Counseling Center staff are confidential in nature. Information about those sessions or their content will be released only (a) upon a student’s written request; (b) in circumstances which indicate a clear and present danger to the individual or others, or (c) suspected child abuse or neglect. The Counseling Center adheres strictly to this policy.

Faculty/staff members have an understandable desire to know if a student who has been referred to the Center has actually attended a session and/or if any progress is being made. We will not acknowledge any contact-or lack of it-with a student. This policy can at times be a source of frustration for faculty/staff who want some basic information. We do encourage students to let the referring faculty/staff member know that he/she kept an appointment. Students are not bound by the promise of confidentiality and are therefore free to disclose any information they wish to share with whomever they want to share it. Counseling records/information are not part of a student’s educational records.