Counseling and Psychological Services
Information for Faculty and Staff

If a Student is Reluctant to Seek Professional Help

  • Many people believe that only very disturbed people seek psychotherapy, so your referral might be interpreted as a comment on the severity of the problem. Reassure the student that therapists at CAPS 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 CAPS and will not be disclosed to parents, faculty, other University departments, or even you, 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 limitations.

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

    While it is important to care about the emotional well-being of students, we cannot make their decisions for them, and therapy is always a personal choice. Occasionally even your best efforts to encourage a student to seek therapy will be unsuccessful. If the student resists referral and you remain uncomfortable with the situation, contact CAPS at (206) 296-6090 to discuss your concern.