• 1. Listen carefully to the person as they describe their situation.

    • 2. Ask questions to clarify that you understand their specific needs.

    • 3. If you're not sure that a particular resource or referral would be appropriate (e.g. counselling) ask.

    • 4. Research available material for suitable resources.

    • 5. If you can't find exactly what you're looking for, try contacting a similar resource and asking if they can refer you to other resources.

    • 6. Ask your colleagues or supervisor for help and ideas as needed.

    • 7. Offer your best suggestions to the person, and encourage them to choose which options they wish to pursue.

    • 8. If the person appears hesitant, or reluctant to access the resources, you can:
      • Offer to contact the resource yourself while the person is still in your office.
      • Offer to sit with the person while they place the initial contact call themselves.
      • Offer to accompany the person to the appointment, if appropriate, and if you feel comfortable doing so.
    • 9. Give the person printed information on the resource to take with them. If you don't have the printed material, write down the pertinent information for the person to take with them

    • 10. Offer to follow-up with the person to ensure the referrals were effective, but don't insist on knowing what the person has done.

Situations Requiring Immediate Referral

1. Direct or indirect reference to suicide
2. Threats and disruptive behaviours
3. Disordered eating
4. Drug and alcohol misuse

More Helpful Hints on Making a Referral

  • In making a referral it is important to point out that help is available and seeking help is a sign of strength and courage rather than a sign of weakness or failure. It may be helpful to point out that seeking professional help for other problems (medical, legal, car problems, etc.) is considered good judgment and an appropriate use of resources. For example, "If you had a broken arm you would go to a doctor rather than try to set it yourself."
  • Be direct in letting the person know that you believe it is important to access professional assistance in this situation.
  • Restate your concerns and recommendations simply and clearly to qualify what has been said. Make it clear that your suggestions to seek additional resources represents your best judgment based on your observations of the person's behaviour.
  • Point out that a situation does not need to reach crisis proportions in order to benefit from assistance.
  • Inform students that there is no charge for student services and that all counselling is confidential.
  • Disclosure and student records can only be released with the student's written permission, within the limits of the law.
  • Ensure the person has the contact name, number, and location of the referral.
  • If the person is receptive, suggest they make an appointment.
  • Except in emergencies, the option must be left open for individuals to accept or refuse assistance. If the person takes a defensive posture, don't force the issue and don't attempt to deceive or trick the person into going. Try and leave the door open for possible reconsideration at a later time.
  • Give the individual an opportunity to consider other alternatives by suggesting they might need some time to think it over.
  • If you can, prepare the person for what they might expect if they follow your suggestion. Tell them what you know about the referral person or service.
  • If the person emphatically says "no", respect that decision, and leave the door open for possible reconsideration at a later time.