Intervention Strategies for Residence Life Staff

Guidelines for Action


The goal of Residence Life Staff interventions is to enhance residentsí personal and academic progress. Of especial importance are the resources within Residence Life which may be utilized to assist students. The following suggestions are made to illustrate different aspects of providing assistance.

Creating the User Friendly Environment


m Familiarize yourself with the residents. A basic knowledge of each studentís typical interaction style and interests provides a baseline for future reference.

m Observe residents in a variety of settings. Absence from these normal activities may later signal some form of transition or difficulties that are being encountered.

m Be accessible for residents. A prior knowledge and relationship serves to encourage students when they are deciding whether to seek help from others.

m Provide visible and frequent information that describes campus and community resources (e.g., counseling, academic advisement, recreation opportunities, service or social groups).

When Crisis Emerges


r Listen and observe carefully. Compare your prior experience and knowledge of a resident against current behavior. Avoid being dependent on rumors.

r If approached by others interested in the well being of a resident (e.g., roommate(s), friends, other staff), encourage them to think about sharing their concerns directly or working together in the best interest of the student.

r Consult with your supervisor. While it is important to protect the privacy of residents, using consultation is often needed to provide important and timely resources.

When Constructive Confrontation becomes necessary.....


_ When discussing your concerns with a student, remember to introduce yourself and your role.

_ Begin in general terms to check on the status of the resident (e.g., discuss how academics are going, the studentís experience in residence hall, involvement in campus life).

_ Talk openly about your concerns, particularly what you have personally observed (e.g., any departure from how you used to see the person, withdrawal from activities, change in interactions, level of energy, increased risk taking behaviors).

_ Discuss the kinds of resources available to provide assistance relative to the concerns. Be prepared to give information on how to access services.

_ Remind the student that others have also experienced similar stresses and concerns. Normalize the process of seeking help in making decisions, adapting to changes, and planning to achieve their goals.

_ Plan a follow up meeting to check on the studentís progress and answer further questions. Determine the time and date of the subsequent meeting as an indication of your interest and intention of following through with the resident.

_ Inform your supervisor of the experience and progress. Clarify lingering concerns you may have and, if necessary, develop additional plans for intervention.

If you think the resident is in danger......


¨ If you find yourself concerned that the resident is so despondent and hopeless that s/he may harm themselves, SEEK HELP. Contact your appropriate supervisor. Do not confuse a desire to protect the privacy of the resident with the importance of consulting in order to get appropriate and timely resources.

¨ Warning signs may include: significant social withdrawal, difficulty with getting up from sleep, talking about not wanting or thinking it is possible to go on, suddenly engaging in very high risk behaviors such as driving while impaired, an unusual use of alcohol or other substances to the point of induced blackouts or illness, decreased interest in activities once important, failure to attend classes or missing exams, free floating irritation or anger outbursts, obsession with the loss of a relationship or other significant person, engaging in a process to give personal and sentimental items away.

¨ Listening is one of the most important skills to employ with a person who is feeling hopeless. Empathizing with the resident and not trying to talk him or her out of their feelings helps them develop trust in you. How to get them help is the important consideration.

¨ Again, donít think you need to do this alone. Consult with your immediate supervisor or other designated resource.