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The Suspicious Student

Usually these students complain about something other than their psychological difficulties. They are tense, cautious, mistrustful, and have few friends. These students tend to interpret a minor oversight as significant personal rejection and often overreact to insignificant occurrences. They see themselves as the focal point of others' behaviors and everything that happens may seem to be interpreted in a suspicious light. Usually they are over-concerned with fairness and being treated equally. They project blame onto others and may express anger in indirect ways. Many times they feel worthless and inadequate.

Helpful Responses—

  • It is important to send clear, consistent messages regarding what you are willing to do and what you expect.
  • Express "reserved compassion," mindful that a suspicious student may have trouble with closeness and warmth.
  • Be firm, steady, punctual and consistent.
  • Be aware that humor may be interpreted as rejection.

Less Helpful Responses—

  • Being overly warm or nurturing, or assuring the person that you are his/her friend. Let the student know that you can still be concerned without being intimate.
  • Trying to flatter him/her, or to be cute or humorous to try to relieve your own anxiety. This will probably distance the student from you.
  • Challenging or agreeing with any mistaken or illogical beliefs.
  • Being ambiguous in your response.
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