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Student Psychological Counseling Services

» How to Help / Concerned for Another

How to refer to counseling?

When is This Important?

  • You realize that your friend or someone you know has a crisis or significant problems that you feel requires professional help, and you feel ill-equipped to handle them yourself
  • You recognize that your friend or someone you know has persistent problems which do not appear to get better with your help, or are getting worse
  • You see that your friend or someone you know is unwilling to take responsibility for his or her behavior or seems unable to recognize the impact their negative behavior has on themselves and others

Steps to Make a Referral

  1. Address the concerns you have in a caring, but straightforward manner. Point out your friend’s behaviors that concern you. It's often helpful to note the magnitude and duration of these behaviors. "I'm concerned about you because you've been very withdrawn and uncommunicative for the past three weeks,” or I’ve noticed you have been sleeping in and missing your morning classes for the past week, what is going on?”
  2. Recommend that your friend get counseling and give your reason for making the referral. "You and I have talked several times over the past few weeks and it seems that things aren't getting any better for you. I think it would be helpful for you to talk with a professional counselor. I want you to know that I'm concerned and care about you and want to help by letting you know I feel it would be to your benefit to explore meeting with a counselor at Student Psychological Counseling Services, or a counselor off campus if you would be more comfortable.”
  3. Don't force the idea of counseling, as it may jeopardize the relationship you have with your friend, making them feel you are rejecting or stigmatizing them.  Keep in mind also that your friend’s past experiences, culture and background can all play a factor in their perception of seeking psychological counseling. Your friend may need to hear it is OK to seek services when feeling distressed, but if your friend is not ready, you can encourage them to seek help sooner than later before it gets worse. Do bring it up again at a later time, pointing out how the behaviors or problems continue or do not get better.
  4. After referring, stay in touch with your friend in a non-intrusive way. Check in to see how things are going.

In many situations, all you may need to do is tell your friend to come by the Student Psychological Counseling Services located at 410 N. Glassell to fill out intake information to make an appointment. If you feel your friend needs more support in contacting us, you may wish to call us directly and tell us that you are referring someone, or you may offer to walk with your friend over to SPCS. But remember, once your friend is seen at SPCS, any information about them, even if they are attending counseling, cannot be shared with anyone without your friend’s written permission.

Also remember you can share your concerns by filing a Student Outreach and Support referral, if you have concerns for your friend that are not an immediate threat to your friends safety or to someone else. If your friend is reporting a plan to kill themselves or someone else, contact Public Safety (714) 997-6763, 911, or if possible, take your friend to the nearest emergency room. It is not your responsibility to determine if your friend will actually follow through on their threats, however, you can help them get to professionals who can further assess and provide the help and resources they need.


A psychological emergency exists when, if someone doesn’t get immediate help, serious psychological or physical consequences result.

  • Call 911 or Public Safety at (714) 997-6760
  • Go to the ER at St. Joseph’s Hospital
    1100 W. Stewart Drive, Orange (off La Veta)
  • Go to the ER at UCI Medical Center
    101 The City Drive, Orange (off of Chapman)

Contact Us

Phone: (714) 997-6778
Fax: (714) 744-7940

Location:  410 N. Glassell St.
(House between Public Safety & Student Health)

8:30 a.m.- 5 p.m.
(Closed 12 p.m.-1 p.m.)

SPCS After Hours
Consultation & Crisis Services
(714) 997-6778

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Concerned about a student?

Please share your concerns to help keep our campus healthy and safe.  

Student Outreach and Support Team

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