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Staff & Tutor's FAQs

This list is composed of the most Frequently Asked Questions we receive from Staff and Tutors who are concerned about the wellbeing of a student attending Trinity College Dublin. If you cannot find the information you are looking for below, please call (01) 8961407 or email student-counselling@tcd.ie

I have concerns about the welfare of one my students. What should I do?

If you are concerned about the welfare of one of your students, you should invite them into your office and express your concern openly and in straight forward manner. You can encourage them to avail of support from their own local services or with Student Support Services in College.

If you believe your student could benefit from the free and confidential services that we provide at Student Counselling, you should talk to them about it. Ask them to check out our website for further information.

College Health and the College Chaplaincy are two more very accessible support services where students will find help.

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How do students get an appointment?

The students themselves can contact the Counselling Service by calling (01) 8961407 or visiting us on the 3rd floor of 7-9 South Leinster Street. Our services are free of charge to all registered Students of Trinity College.

You can also make the call with the permission of the student and set up an appointment for them. It is important that you do this with the student as if the student is not engaged in the process, he/she is less likely to show up to the appointment.

If you make a referral to Student Counselling, the counsellor will send you an email or letter in writing letting you know whether the student has attended or not. As the Service is confidential, we will not be able to reveal information to you about the student’s appointments without a release of information agreed verbally or in writing by the student. We do however encourage you to follow up with the student to find out how they are doing.

During term, students who have not used the Service before can pop in to the Student Counselling Service over lunch to avail of a half-hour Brief Consultation Slot between 1.00 and 2.00pm. This enables them to get advice on what to do going forward and where to find additional support.

In case of emergencies, there is an allocated ‘Duty’ appointment Monday to Friday at 3pm where students can be seen by the duty counsellor on the same day. To avail of this appointment you can phone us on 01 896 1407 and request the appointment for the student. Students can also make the appointment themselves. To see a list of after hours support contacts, please click here.

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Can I talk to a counsellor if I am concerned about a student?

Staff at the Student Counselling Service are available for consultation for concerned staff. You need not disclose the name of the student when seeking consultation and we will advise you as best as we can.

We will not be able to tell you if the student is attending the Service without their expressed permission. Neither will we be able to divulge information about his/her wellbeing, since confidentiality is so important to our work and ensures students feel safe to speak freely.

Usually however, we are able to advise you in general terms about possible courses of action. When students give permission for us to talk we are happy to do so. We tend to only give information that is relevant to the situation. The student’s safety and confidentiality are our priorities.

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What if a student is reluctant to go to counselling?

Many students have inaccurate ideas about what counselling is and who can attend. If you feel that a student would benefit, explore with them their reluctance. Ask them what they think counselling is. You may need to explain what counselling is about i.e.

  • That it is a place to go to get help with emotional/psychological problems;
  • That the counsellor will not judge them no matter what the issue is;
  • Assure them that it is confidential and will have no bearing on their academic record;
  • Many different types of people go to counselling and your problem doesn't have to be ‘really bad’ before you seek help;

You can let the student know that he/she need only come once to see what it is like and then decide whether he/she wants to go back. Some students are more likely to go to a GP and you can encourage an appointment with College Health in this case. If the GP thinks that counselling is indicated he/she will refer the student to us.

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What if I think that a student is suicidal?

If you are concerned about a student’s safety it is important to contact the student and arrange a meeting as soon as you can. It is ok when you meet with the student to express your concerns and ask him/her directly if they are suicidal. If you are not their tutor you can contact the tutor and he/she can ask to meet with the student. While this is a difficult thing to do it is important to err on the side of caution.

It is always better that you feel a bit silly but know that you have made sure a student is safe than not have asked and leave a student at risk with no support.

Asking a student if they are suicidal will not make them so. It may be a relief for them to admit it to someone. You can then decide if the student needs a referral to Student Counselling. If in doubt, refer. You can always call us on (01) 896 1407 and ask for advice.

For information on how to arrange an Emergency Appointment, please click here.

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A student in my lectures is very thin, I think they might be anorexic. What should I do?

It is better to err on the side of caution. Invite the student in to your office or encourage their tutor to do this. State your concerns directly to the student. Listen and avoid being judgemental.

If necessary, encourage the student to seek help from their own GP, the College Health Service or the Student Counselling Service. You can help the student to make an appointment either by phoning the relavent service on their behalf while they are in the room with you, or walking the student to the service.

The student may not be ready to deal with their problem so it is important to be supportive but not overly pushy unless you are concerned that he/she is at a point where he/she may need hospitalisation.

Always consult with your head of department or another member of staff who knows the student. It is important for you to have support and they may also have some information that you don’t.

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A student hasn’t been showing up to my lectures or tutorials and is isolated from the rest of the class?

You can contact the student and invite them to meet with you. You can also contact their tutor and express your concern to him/her if you are not their tutor. There are many reasons why students don’t attend from not liking the course to having personal issues that are interfering. Assure the student that you are there to help and not to reprimand them.

Discuss with them their options including the Student Counselling Service. They may be having difficulties with studying in which case a referral to Student Learning Development would be appropriate. It also may be the case that they have a learning disability and a referral to the Disability Services is called for. You should let students know the supports that are available to them. They may often not be aware of them or how to access them.

Students can also avail of the Peer Mentoring or Student 2 Student service, where a student who is familiar with College and trained in listening and support skills can meet with them to talk things out.

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I am feeling pressurised by a parent and receiving a lot of phone calls from them. What can I do?

Sometimes concerned and frustrated parents call college staff to try to get help for their son/daughter and relieve their own anxieties. It is important to listen to their concerns and answer any practical questions that they may have. You can also refer them to the college web page and/or the Student Counselling website if the issue is a psychological one. The Student Counselling Website has an FAQ section specifically for parents.

It is also important to set boundaries with parents and remind them that our students (for the most part) are adults and that we encourage them in their independence. Students have a right to confidentiality particularly in their relationships with their tutors. You might need to remind the parents of this. If you are struggling with this we can talk with you about setting boundaries with parents and give advice about where they might seek support themselves.

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I want to put in an appeal for one of my students. Can I get a letter of support from Student Counselling?

Student Counselling are often asked for letters supporting student appeals when personal issues have significantly gotten in the way of academic requirements. We are happy to comply with this if we feel that it is indicated. However, we are not able to write retroactively on a student’s behalf.

We need to have been seeing a student during the time they were having difficulties before we can comment on their mental health during this time. If you have a question around this you can call us and we will talk with you about it.

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Can Student Counselling write a “fitness to return to college” letter for my student?

There are times when we have been seeing a student regularly that we are asked to comment on their fitness to return to college. We are happy to do this with the permission of the student. In order to make this kind of statement we must have been seeing the student for several sessions and currently.

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Last updated 16 December 2015 student-counselling@tcd.ie.