About the Service
If you are a friend, professor, staff member, or family member who is concerned about the well-being of a Trinity student Who can use:
The consulting counselor will ask whether the information the concerned person discloses is “off the record” (not disclosable to the student even if they become a client) or “on the record.” In either case the counselor will record a summary of the consultation in our electronic record-keeping system to which only we have access. Confidentiality:
Schedule an appointment
Consultations are typically by phone
Call TUPD Immediately
If the person is at risk for being suicidal or violent: immediately call the Trinity University Police Department (TUPD) for assistance (210-999-7000). TUPD will respond and contact Trinity's on-call counselor or Emergency Medical Services, if needed.
If the student appears to be in distress, but not potentially suicidal or violent:
- Option 1: Follow the Process of Helping Guide.
- Option 2: Encourage the student to see a counselor in our office.
- Option 3: Arrange a wellness check through additional campus resources, with the Residential Life office or the Dean of Students office.
- Option 4: Seek consultation / advice from a counselor inside our office.
What to Expect
In respect for student autonomy, Counseling Services does not initiate contact with a student of concern. A student must arrange their own meeting with a counselor; another person cannot schedule an appointment for another student.
If we have previously seen the student, the counselor cannot provide information to you unless the student has previously provided consent to do so. Any counselor who subsequently sees the student will know the reasons for your concern.
Processing of Helping
A Guide From Counseling Services, Trinity University
Helping another person involves caring, listening, understanding, and collaborating. Consider the following guidelines as you offer help.
If you and the student are able to talk face-to-face, ensure that you have privacy. If possible, allow for enough time that the two of you can talk at length. Minimize distractions (e.g., turn off the ringer on your phone) and talk to the student only if the student is alert and sober. Otherwise, pursue a conversation at another time.
If you must talk with the student from a distance, do so by telephone if possible, rather than e-mail or texting, because a person's tone of voice sometimes conveys important information. Before your initial contact, prepare yourself to listen nonjudgmentally to what the student might reveal to you about what they feel or think or have done. Your compassionate and supportive attitude will invite the student to open up and will facilitate your discussion.
Listening empathically and nonjudgmentally is the most important thing you can do! Listening means encouraging the other person to tell the story of what they are going through, including not only the facts, but also the thoughts and emotions they experience in response to what is happening in their life. Listening empathically means seeking to understand the other person's concerns from their point of view.
Listening empathically also means accepting the depth and breadth of the student's emotions--including sadness, fear, and shame--as being normal and understandable in light of what they are going through. Avoid rushing to offer reassurance; the student might infer that they should not talk about their emotions with you and thus censor themself.
If you find the student being defensive or arguing with you, you may not be listening carefully. Instead, you may be attempting to offer advice or solve the problem prematurely, probably because you are under the mistaken
impression that giving advice is at the heart of helping. In reality, listening is at the heart of helping. "Just listening" is powerful; it IS "doing something."
If the student is significantly distressed or depressed, it is important to ask about thoughts of suicide. Asking will not "plant the seed." Don't say, "You're not thinking about killing yourself, are you?" (Asking about suicide that way implies that you want the student to say no, even if the answer is yes.) Instead, ask something like this: "Are you feeling so bad that you think about ending your life?" If the student admits to such thoughts, ask for specifics about what the student contemplates. The more specific and lethal the thoughts, the greater the risk. If you learn that the student is at risk of committing suicide or being violent, ensure you know of the student's current location and call the Trinity University Police Department for assistance (210-999-7000) if the student is on campus, including in the City Vista apartments. If the student is off campus, call 911.
Offer to help the student generate and consider options for coping with or responding to the problem(s) they are experiencing. (Be aware, however, that some students don't need this help because your empathic listening helped them to get unstuck and do what they need to do.) If the student is open to you helping them brainstorm what to do, a good place to start is to ask what the student has already done. Then ask what the student has considered doing. After the student has generated their ideas, you may have some additional options to offer for their consideration.
Be mindful that one option is to seek input from others on campus. Depending on whether the concerns are academic, career-related, or personal, you might suggest that the student consult with a professor, adviser, or member of the staff of campus support services such as Counseling Services. Please see ‘Campus Resources’ below for further information about some of the other support services offered on campus.
Although you can be helpful in brainstorming options, the final decision about how to proceed remains with the student. It is important that the student make their own plan of action because they are they more likely to follow through on a plan that is personally acceptable.
The student may not feel better immediately after having talked with you. They may need some time (days, weeks or months) to work through their situation. Your ongoing support, understanding, and acceptance is important during this period.
What if the Student Refuses My Help
Unfortunately, you cannot make someone open up to you and accept your help. If the student insists that things are okay, convey your ongoing concern and your willingness to offer support in the future. If you later observe continuing or additional signs that the student is struggling, approach the student again to share what you've observed and offer to listen.
It is also possible that the student does not want to burden you with their problems, especially if they have experienced you as someone who is prone to worry. So, you might remind the student that Counseling Services is a place where they can talk confidentially about whatever they may be concerned about.