(Adapted and modified, with permission, from the web pages of the Texas A&M university Student Counseling Service).
Sometimes faculty or staff refer students who have been experiencing academic difficulties to the Counseling Center in order to request a letter "verifying" personal problems that may have interfered with their academic performance.
At times serious personal problems do interfere with one’s ability to concentrate on studies. Although counselors want to be supportive when they can, it is important for faculty, staff and students to understand that counselors cannot help confirm difficulties of which they have no prior information or only very little knowledge.
If students have no counseling record other than an initial screening or a crisis intervention session, a letter may only confirm that the student came to the Counseling Center and disclosed difficulties that may or may not have affected academic performance earlier in the semester. This type of letter is usually not very helpful.
On the other hand, if a student has been seen for ongoing counseling while experiencing these difficulties, counselors are more likely to be able to write a supportive letter. .
If you believe a student is experiencing personal difficulties that may be negatively impacting his/her academic performance and that he/she might benefit from counseling, it is generally most helpful to suggest that the student seek counseling early on, in order to help prevent such difficulties impacting them later on in the semester.
If a student has a documented disability for which he or she is requesting or receiving accommodations, please refer him or her to Disability Services for assistance. Again, the earlier these services are set up, the more likely it is that problems can be prevented in the future!
Please note, that any time the Counseling Center writes a letter for a client or former client, we need to meet with the client to discuss it first, at least 7 days prior to when the letter is needed.
We appreciate your cooperation and understanding in these matters.