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Karen Kirkpatrick
Office Manager

Ph: (540) 464-7667
Fax: (540) 464-7025
Email Cadet Counseling

Monday - Friday
8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

The Center for Cadet Counseling (CCC)
Virginia Military Institute
VMI Health Center
448 Institute Hill, 2nd Floor
Lexington, VA  24450

Speaking Directly With A Cadet

Consider these suggestion for a direct conversation with a cadet:

  • Ask the cadet if you can schedule a one-on-one meeting.
  • Let someone else in your department or office know about the scheduled meeting so they can be available if necessary.
  • Tell the cadet what you have noticed about their behavior that leads you to be concerned, and that you are worried about them. ("I have noticed that you seem very tired the past two weeks." "I've noticed you've missed class three times in the past two weeks.")
  • Avoid "why" questions, which may be perceived as judgment.
  • Ask open-ended questions. ("Tell me a bit more about how things are going for you this semester: What's been difficult? Satisfying...")
  • Listen to the cadet's response. You need not be scared off by an emotional response. Talking about a problem, or labeling a crisis, does not make it worse. It is the first step toward resolving it. Be patient. Don't give up if the cadet doesn't talk easily.
  • Deal directly with the issues without judgment. Allow the cadet to tell his/her story. Allow silences if they occur. Sometimes what follows can be especially productive.
  • Restate what you have heard so that the cadet will know you understand.
  • Ask why s/he believes would help.
  • Know your own boundaries and limitations and if necessary, get help determining a course of action. Say something like, "I know (name) in (department/office) who has helped other cadets with similar circumstances. I'd like to call him/her right now to get input/advice about this. Will you please stay here while I call?" (If the answer is no, respect the cadet's decision, invite him/her to reconnect with you as needed. If you have lingering concerns, alert another network partner who may have additional thoughts about supporting the cadet.
  • Suggest resources and offer hope
  • Encourage the cadet to utilize available resources (dyke, Cadet Peer Educators (CPE), academic advisor, chaplain services, etc.)
  • Convey to the cadet that asking for help is a sign of strength.
  • Ask the cadet, "who in your life/community would you be comfortable talking with about this situation?" or "What do you think would help in this situation."
  • Suggest a "one time" visit to speak with a counselor at the CCC.
  • Call the CCC, 540-464-7667, for consultation and advice about the next steps.