When friends come to you with a problem or with a need to express their feelings of frustration, despair, confusion, etc., you may sometimes feel helpless to respond to them. Here are some guidelines about what you can do to help your friend feel less lonely or confused:
- Be primarily a listener. Your friend is helped more by what he/she says than by what you say.
- Accept your friend as a person even though you may not agree with his/her behavior.
- Avoid making judgments or reactions such as surprise, shock, or amusement unless you are genuinely sharing your friend’s feelings.
- Recognize the value of emotional release and encourage your friend to “talk it out.”
- Do not make decisions for your friend. What you may do in the same situation may not be the best thing for your friend to do.
- If you feel you cannot provide the help your friend needs, encourage him/her to seek others who can, such as a trusted faculty member or administrator or a psychologist at Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS). Free, confidential counseling is available at Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) for the whole range of personal and emotional problems students may face.
- Continue to be available to your friend. If you are feeling overwhelmed and your friend does not want to talk to anyone else, you may want to talk to a psychologist at CAPS about how you can better help your friend.