Student Services Behavioral Intervention

Ways to Help

In dealing with an individual that may going through a difficult situation, there are a few ways to help:
  • Initiate Contact – don't ignore concerning behavior displayed by a student.  Respond to it immediately.  Talk to the student privately, in a direct and honest manner, indicating your concern.  Early feedback, intervention and/or referral can prevent more serious problems from developing.
  • Offer Support and Assistance – among the most important helping tools are interest, concern, and attentive listening.  Listen to the student in a sensitive manner, however be sure to maintain clear and consistent boundaries.  Convey support and understanding by summarizing what you hear the student saying.  Suggest resources that the student can take advantage of (Student Counseling Center, various professionals on campus, friends, family, etc). Consult With Professionals – in your attempt to help a student, you may determine that you need input from a counseling professional.  Counselors at the Student Counseling Center (SCC) can serve as consultants and can suggest possible approaches to take, as well as provide you with support. 
  • Call the SCC 605-677-5777 for assistance (then make a secondary phone call to the Dean of Students at 605-677-5331)
  • Know Your Limits – only go as far as your resources and/or training allow; make a referral to the appropriate professional and/or department. 
Listen and Explore Options

  • If the student volunteers personal information related to what you have observed, listen carefully and try to see the issues from his/her point of view without necessarily agreeing or disagreeing.
  • Explore alternatives to deal with the problem (for example, if a student discloses to you that her parents are going through a divorce, which in turn is having a negative effect on the student's mood and studies, let the student know that we have counselors on campus who can help the student so that the student doesn't have to deal with this personal issue alone)
  • DO NOT MAKE PROMISES OF CONFIDENTIALITY
  • Do reassure the student that you want to support them but may need to consult with and/or refer them to other university staff who are better able to respond to the student's specific concerns or issues. 
Clearly Outline Expectations

  • If the student does not volunteer any personal information or explanation for his/her recent concerning behavior, emphasize that you will be available in the future if and when he/she wishes to speak to you.
  • Depending on the nature of the student's distressed or disruptive behavior, briefly outline general expectations for classroom conduct and/or class assignments and possible consequences for non-compliance.
High-Risk Situations

  • If a student's situation is serious and the student is reluctant or unwilling to seek professional help, inform student that you need to share relevant information with appropriate university personnel (e.g. University Police Department, Dean of Students, Student Counseling Center, Student Rights and Responsibilities) Faculty and staff should report any type of behavior or threat of behavior that could threaten the well-being of any person and/or may disrupt the university community to the appropriate university personnel (e.g. University Police Department, Dean of Students, Student Counseling Center, Student Rights and Responsibilities)
  • Duty of Care – as university employees, we are all expected to take action if a student is at risk.
Threatening and Dangerous Behavior

  • If a student's behavior is threatening towards self and/or others, immediately contact University Police Department at 605-677-5342 (or 9-911 if calling from a campus line)
  • If a student makes you feel uneasy – consult with someone else; do not meet the student in an isolated place; set limits with the student
  • If a student reports suicidal ideation (expressing thoughts, feelings, or intentions about wanting to cause harm to oneself), immediately contact University Police Department at 605-677-5342 (or 9-911 if calling from a campus line); Student Counseling Center at 605-677-5777 depending on the nature of the ideation.