Emotional Intelligence May Be Useful In Student Counseling Programs

Many college students are at risk for career derailment, academic failure or even suicide as the result of the stresses of college life. Naturally, freshmen are at a greater risk than college juniors or seniors based on the greater acceptance of professional help on the part of more mature students.

The stigma associated with counseling and psychotherapy continues to be problematic among many college students especially African Americans, Asians and Caucasians from modest backgrounds.

While Emotional Intelligence coaching is not a substitute for serious mental or nervous disorders, it can be useful for many of the reactive disorders and common problems that are associated with adjusting to college life and the pain associated with developing autonomy.

Lets take a look at some of the self-help suggestions made by The University of Florida


Using Feelings

Becoming more aware of your feelings is the first step to resolving a problem. It gives you the option to express your feelings directly and assertively rather than acting them out in aggressive or self-destructive behaviors. Honestly acknowledging your feelings may help you avoid losing your balance completely by warning you to:

  • Get support
  • Analyze your thinking
  • Clarify your needs
  • Prepare yourself
  • Get needed information
  • Set limits
  • Make changes if necessary

If you feel overwhelmed by a problem, try reaching out to get support before you explore your feelings or thoughts, or before you act to alleviate the problem. It’s hard to maintain perspective when you’re all alone.

Becoming Aware

When you experience stress you can probably identify the external event or situation, which caused it. You may also be able to identify your feelings in response to the event. You may not, however, be aware of the thoughts you have, or self-statements you make about yourself or the event (“I blew it! This is horrible! I’ll never make it now!”). These thoughts have a great impact on how you feel and act.

Sometimes your thoughts may work against you. As a result of past learning and experiences, your interpretation of events or thoughts about yourself become distorted. You are no longer thinking rationally, and your perceptions become quite different from the external reality, or from other’s perspectives.

Through your irrational thoughts and negative self-statements, you may unknowingly increase your feelings of being overwhelmed. Let’s look at some of the common ways we all distort problems.

Let’s look at some rational thinking alternatives…

Rational Thinking

  • Focus on the Present (don’t jump to conclusions “He canceled our date, but he said he’d call tomorrow so there is no reason to think anything is wrong. I’ll use the free time to relax with that book I just bought.”
  • Stay With the Facts (Beware of catastrophizing) “I got a D on my first exam but it doesn’t mean I’ll fail chemistry. I didn’t understand what the professor wanted. I think I’ll meet with her so I’ll know what to expect on the next exam.”
  • Be Realistic and Objective (Avoid personalizing) “He’s yawning, he’s probably tired. It doesn’t have to mean that he doesn’t like me.”
  • Be Optimistic (Try not to predict doom) “I’m lonely now… because she’s gone. It’s natural to feel this way. And even though I may never find anyone quite like her, I’ll find someone new and different when I’m ready.”
  • Be kind to yourself (Don’t “Should” yourself) “It’s OK for me to disagree with him, it doesn’t mean he won’t like me. My opinions are valid.”

Retain your perspective (Watch out for negative labels) “I may not have won this time, but that doesn’t mean I’m a ‘loser.'”

While these suggestions can be useful and may be all that is needed for some students, self-help tips cannot be used as a substitute for formal psychiatric diagnoses or treatment of psychopathology.

Emotional Intelligence skill enhancement coaching or classes may also meet the needs of some of the students who are reluctant to seek counseling or psychotherapy.


Lets take a look at what a student can learn about him or herself from a brief On-line Emotional Intelligence Assessment

Here are the results of a 19-year-old college freshman that is in his second semester and is already on academic probation: The Assessment used is the EQ-I 2.0.

Total EI: 96 out of a range from 0—————135

Self-Perception Composite 98

Self-Regard respecting oneself; confidence 97

Self-Actualization pursuit of meaning; self-improvement 112

Emotional Self-Awareness understanding own emotions 83

Self-Expression Composite 94

Emotional Expression constructive expressions of emotions 85

Assertiveness communicating feelings, beliefs; non-offensive 88

Independence self-directed; free from emotional dependency. 113

Interpersonal Composite 103

Interpersonal Relationships mutually satisfying relationships 111

Empathy understanding, appreciating how others feel 83

Social Responsibility social consciousness: helpful 119

Decision Making Composite 86

Problem Solving find solutions when emotions are involved 91

Reality Testing objective; see things as the really are 97

Impulse Control Resist or delay impulse to act 71

Stress Management Composite 100

Flexibility adapting emotions, thoughts and behaviors 99

Stress Tolerance coping with stressful situations 99

Optimism positive attitude and outlook on life 103

In Emotional Intelligence Coaching, it is the student who determines the focus of the coaching goals based on his or her scores on the EQI Assessment. At the conclusion of the 26 session coaching program, the same assessment can be given to objectively determine the degree to which change has occurred. This model of intervention is trending in popularity among college students and high school seniors in the greater Los Angeles area.



In Summary, “Counseling centers can also implement a variety of innovative strategies to meet the mental health needs of students and the demand for services. In terms of direct clinical services, these strategies may include offering more immediate and accessible appointments, especially for students in crisis, by providing phone consultations and evening and drop-in appointments. Peer counselors and graduate interns can also be an important resource that allows counseling centers to serve more students. Group therapy and self-help programs (e.g., books, pamphlets, videos, Internet resources about mental health issues) are alternatives to individual counseling that can be effective for many students.”


George Anderson, the Anger Management Guru


Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s