While students who attend university are adults, with varying degrees of emotional maturity, we can sometimes want to fix or take responsibility for the student – to do this is generally unhelpful and can also contribute to the student feeling more inadequate and/or less resilient. Such compassionate reactions are healthy but are best contained and considered before taking action to rescue.
Select the highlighted areas of the image below, for more ways in which you can keep yourself and the student safe.
University students are adults and are responsible for their own emotional experience. By keeping this in mind we can work to help the student find solutions, or other support, rather than us trying to be in charge – you are not responsible for the student’s life. We can easily forget that students are independent when supporting those who are at risk or in crisis and we can become overwhelmed and stressed with such responsibility.
The value of active listening - that is, listening attentively and showing that you are, cannot be underestimated. On many occasions, just the activity of active listening can in itself lead to resolution, by allowing the student to feel more in control of a situation – hearing their own words can help put the situation in a different perspective.
Being listened to and feeling heard can be extremely important.
See session 03 - Key Skills for more details.
We cannot effectively give others support unless we feel supported. Having supportive colleagues can be invaluable so we can talk about what has happened and maintain a healthy perspective in risk or crisis situations the student is facing.
We know that supporting others in crisis can undermine our own coping strategies, potentially leading to further stress. Debriefing with someone after a situation can help considerably.
The university context has many sources of support in place for staff which include: