How to Refer

In any vibrant community, there are many sources of stress, and the Cal Lutheran community is no different. For an increasing number of students, however, stress sometimes feels unmanageable and interferes with learning and living an enjoyable life.

As valued faculty and staff, you are vitally important resources for identifying and helping students. You may be the first to see a student in trouble and you can be of great help by creating a web of support for our students. If you are thinking of referring a student for services, consider these key steps.

Initial Considerations

In many cases, you are able to provide adequate support to a student by engaging in empathic listening, facilitating an open discussion, instilling hope, displaying acceptance, and offering some suggestions for help.

Recognize when you are over-extending yourself and talk to the student about other ways to get assistance with their challenges. You can tell them that you are concerned and care about them, and that CAPS provides professional, free, and confidential services. You can offer to schedule an appointment while with the student or you may walk them to our office to discuss their options directly with us.

We know that helping others comes with a lot of responsibility and we are here to help in that process. If you would like to consult with someone at CAPS before making a referral, you can call us at 805-493-3727. 

1. Prepare to Reach Out

PrepareRemember, you are not alone in this.

Consult with CAPS or the CARE Team to explore concerns and identify appropriate campus resources. Make sure you feel safe and let someone else know that you are going to have a tough conversation with a student of concern. Put Campus Safety's number, 805-493-3911, in your phone in case you need to call for help . 

2. Connect with the Student

ConnectPut your preparation plan into action.

Share your concern calmly, kindly, and directly, and be prepared to listen. Focus on the specific behavior, not blaming or shaming the student. Respect privacy without guaranteeing confidentiality. Explore the student's support system and emphasize the importance of professional help.  Respectfully share your observations of the student's behaviors that lead you to conclude that a referral might be helpful.

3. Make the Referral

Make ReferralCommunicate confidence.

Recommend the appropriate service and discuss what they might expect from that resource. Normalize the experience of seeking support from others. Frame the decision to seek help as a wise one. Offer to be with the student when they call the referral or walk them to the referral source to help make an appointment. Follow-up to see if they attended.

Respect the student's right to reject the referral suggestion, however, if the student has talked about suicide or harming others, be clear that you will need to notify someone to help with the situation.


PDF: How to Refer