Helping Distressed Students

If you are a tutor, students will often come to you to tell you about academic difficulties and also personal problems they experience. Quite often, you will be the first person the student is turning to with his or her problem.

  • • In many cases, the students' difficulties have a direct impact on their work, and this is why they discuss them with you
  • • The students know you personally and often feel more comfortable talking to you than to someone they don't know

In some situations you may find this a lot to cope with. Not only do you have to ensure that your students are progressing academically, you also have to deal with at times 'heavy' personal problems of individual students. 

Be aware that it is not you who can solve the student's problems and that you cannot take responsibility for their state or actions.

However, there is a lot you can do for a student in distress

  • • First and foremost, you can listen to them. Take your time when you talk to them. This alone will give the student the feeling that you are there for them to support them. If you need some guidelines about how to listen, click here
  • • Help them to develop a plan of action. As far as their academic work is concerned, you may be able to make concrete suggestions (e.g., how to go about getting their work done, options of deferral etc.)
  • • If you feel that a student needs further support which lies outside the boundaries of what you can do for them, refer them on, either to the DIT counselling service, or to other appropriate support services. Find out more about how to make a referral.

For more information about degrees of student’s distress and how to support them, click here.

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