When friends or family come to you with a problem or to express feelings of frustration, despair, confusion, etc., you may feel helpless and unsure how to respond. Here are guidelines for helping:
- Remember you are responsible to, not responsible for someone else. Other's problems are their own.
- Primarily listen with acceptance of what is being said. Recognize the value of emotional release and encourage your friend or family member to "talk it out." Generally they are helped more by talking than by what you say.
- Accept your friend or family member as a person even if you don't agree with their behavior.
- Avoid making judgments or reacting with surprise, shock, or amusement unless you are genuinely sharing their feelings.
- Do not make decisions for your friend or family member. What you may do in the same situation may not be the best thing for them. Provide support and help in talking about possible solutions.
- Continue to be available to your friend or family member. If you feel overwhelmed and your friend or family member does not want to talk to anyone else, you may want to consult with a counselor at the Counseling Center, or someone else that you trust. Consider how you can continue to help and provide support and at the same time set boundaries for and take care of yourself. If you are struggling with your own feelings, please seek help as well.
- If you feel you cannot provide the help your friend or family member needs, encourage him/her to seek assistance from others who can, such as a trusted faculty member, administrator, staff member at the Counseling Center, or other professionals. Free, confidential counseling is available for CMU students at the Counseling Center (989.774.3381) for the personal and emotional problems students may face.
- Some resources you may find helpful are: