Helping At Risk Students

Published: July 5th, 2012

Category: Memos

Meggen Sixbey, PhD, LMHC, LMFT, Associate Director & Clinical Assistant Professor, Counseling and Wellness Center

I’d like to request that you reach out to your faculty and staff, requesting that they complete an online course about helping students in distress. In addition to the 90 minute QPR: Suicide Prevention program the CWC has offered since 2006, we are also offering, At Risk: Kognito. At Risk: Kognito is a forty-five minute, online, interactive gatekeeper training course designed to prepare college and university faculty, staff, and administrators to:

  1. Recognize the common indicators of psychological distress in students, and
  2. Approach an at-risk student for referral to the appropriate school support service.

The course is one of several in the At Risk: Kognito series which are the only training simulations listed in the Suicide Prevention Resource Network and American Foundation for Suicide Prevention Best Practices Registry. Unique among online gatekeeper trainings At Risk: Kognito engages users in conversations with emotionally responsive student avatars that exhibit signs of psychological distress. In this process, they practice and learn to use open-ended questions, reflective listening and other motivational interviewing techniques to effectively broach the topic of psychological distress, motivate the student to seek help and avoid common pitfalls such as attempting to diagnose the problem or giving unwarranted advice. This type of “behavioral rehearsal” has been demonstrated to enhance gatekeeper skills and contribute to better skill retention.

This is a great time for faculty and staff to learn tactics for assisting students experiencing high amounts of stress. You will also note a Veteran Module is available that is helpful in addressing concerns unique to this population.

Both courses can be accessed through the Counseling and Wellness Center’s Faculty and Staff resource tab ( Please be sure to enter the enrollment key, “ufl2323” to access either course.

I sincerely appreciate your assistance with reaching out to faculty and staff about this important initiative. Please contact me at or 352-392-1575 if I can be of any assistance in answering questions you or your staff may have.

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