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The Student in Poor Contact with Reality

These students have difficulty distinguishing fantasy from reality, the dream from the waking state. Their thinking is typically illogical, confused, and/or disturbed. They may coin new words, see or hear things which no one else can, have irrational beliefs, or exhibit bizarre or inappropriate behavior. Generally, these students are not dangerous and are very frightened and overwhelmed.

DO:
  • Respond with warmth and kindness, but with firm reasoning.
  • Remove extra stimulation from the environment and see the student in a quiet/private atmosphere (if you are comfortable doing so).
  • Acknowledge your concerns and state that you can see he/she needs help (e.g., "It seems very hard for you to integrate all these things that are happening and I am concerned about you. I would like to help.").
  • Acknowledge his/her feelings or fears without supporting the misconceptions (e.g., "I understand you think they are trying to hurt you, and I know how real it seems to you. But I don't hear the voices.").
DON'T:
  • Argue or try to convince him/her of the irrationality of his/her thinking. This will generally make him/her defend his/her position (false perceptions) more.
  • Play along (e.g., "Oh yeah, I hear the voices/see the devil").
  • Encourage further revelations of craziness.
  • Demand, command, or order.
  • Expect customary emotional responses.