Counseling and Psychological Services
Information for Family and Friends

Expressing Concern for a Student

  • When you are concerned about someone, your concern may be based on a known circumstance (e.g., you learn the person has recently ended a relationship, failed an important exam, or lost a family member), or you may be noticing some general signs of distress, but are unsure about what may be triggering the feeling or behavior.

    It often helps to talk over the situation with someone else. Parents, friends, professors, and advisors can be good resources for suggestions and advice. Sometimes it might be necessary to speak with a professional about the situation. Therapists at CAPS are available for consultation.

    Through this process, a therapist will help you explore different options which will help you make a decision as to the best way to reach out and help the person that you are concerned about. Call CAPS during business hours at 206.296.6090 to speak with a therapist or to schedule a time in person to discuss a family member or another student about whom you are concerned.

    Express your concern directly to the person you are worried about. It is important to do so in a compassionate and non-blaming manner. Avoid giving ultimatums or trying to pressure someone into changing or getting help.

    • Express your concern using "I" statements. For example, you might say to a friend whose alcohol use concerns you, "I'm worried about you because I notice you're drinking more, and not making it to your morning classes."
    • Let the person know that you care about them and want to help.
    • Say "tell me more about…"
    • Listen with your full attention.
    • Be patient and don't jump to conclusions or offer quick solutions.
    • Empower the individual to make a change by asking what they think might be helpful.