Extending the Care of Congregations

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How to Make a Referral To Us

A Guide for Family, Friends, Co-workers, Pastors and Other Professionals

When to Refer

In times when you are wondering about whether a person needs counseling, you may call Pastoral Counseling of Northern Virginia and ask to speak to one of our counselors regarding your concerns. The PCNV staff is available to assist you with decisions about how to be most helpful. Sometimes it is important to refer a person and sometimes a matter may best be addressed in another manner. Here are four guidelines that can help you determine whether referral is the best course of action.

  1. A person shows emotional or behavioral signs of being under stress.
  2. A person presents a personal problem or requests information about how to address the problem in situations that are outside your range of knowledge. The problem is more serious than you feel comfortable handling.
  3. A person is reluctant to discuss a problem with you for some reason.
  4. A person needs more assistance than you have been able to provide after you have exhausted your resources in trying to be of help.

When you question whether or not to refer a person to counseling and would like assistance on how to approach a particular person, please call Pastoral Counseling of Northern Virginia and speak with one of our counselors. A telephone consultation may help sort out relevant issues, explore appropriate approaches and identify other resources which may better serve the person's needs.

How to Refer

  • Approach the person you want to help in a gentle, caring, and non-judgmental way.
  • State specifically why you are concerned. Describe behaviors, and then suggest calling Pastoral Counseling of Northern Virginia.
  • Normalize the process of seeking help.
  • Remind persons that they don't have to have a "deep dark" problem nor does the problem need to reach crisis proportions for them to benefit from professional help. It just makes sense have someone come in with a small problem rather than wait for it to become a big one.
  • When referring persons, suggest it as a possible resource rather than telling a person to go because he or she "needs help" or is "causing a problem" for others.
  • Reluctant persons might also be relieved to know that they can just call to set up an appointment and then to come in to speak to a counselor on a one-time basis without making a commitment to on-going counseling.
  • If you want to offer extra support you can have the person call PCNV while you are with them.
  • Remind the persons that we have a sliding fee scale based on family size and income and that there are some insurance companies that may pay for some of the counseling.
  • Remember that many persons will feel ambivalent about seeking help from any source including the PCNV. You may need to remind them that, "What you're currently doing to solve your problems isn't working."
  • Remind the person that they don't always have to know what's wrong before asking for help.
  • Ambivalence can often be seen in statements such as, "I don't want to go there because my problem isn't that serious." Or, "I don't want to go there because I think my problems are too serious and they can't help me." In either of these cases, the person you are trying to refer may be fearful of the unknown. A direct response to such objections can sometimes be helpful. "If your problem is not appropriate for PCNV, they can make sure that you are directed to the right place."

How Do I Know If This Person Received Counseling?

Ask that person. Because counseling is confidential, we cannot always inform you if the person of concern came to the PCNV or reveal what they talked about. Therefore, the best way to find out if the person came to the PCNV is to follow-up with this individual yourself.

If you feel that it is vital for you to learn whether this person came to the PCNV from the counselor, ask the person to sign a release of information form when they are here, giving us permission to confirm with you that they came.

Urgent Referrals

While PCNV is not able to provide emergency services, when a person needs to be seen right away, we make every effort to see them as soon as possible. Call and communicate with the counselor that there is a person who is interested in coming for counseling and needs to be seen right away. If the person makes the appointment in your presence it is important that we know the urgency and specifics of the situation. Speak with a counselor about your referral and provide the counselor with a description of the situation that has led to your concern.

While it is important to be helpful to others, we cannot make their decisions for them, and counseling should always be a personal choice. Occasionally even your best efforts to encourage a person to seek counseling will be unsuccessful. If the person resists referral and you remain uncomfortable with the situation, let the person know that you have an ongoing concern and that you may seek the support of other concerned persons to help with making a referral.



Feature Article
Parental Responsibilities
by
Rev. Carl Ripley, M.Div., M.S., C.A.S., L.P.C.



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