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Frequently college students seek emotional support and personal advice from faculty members with whom they have had supportive interactions. Faculty need to balance the idea of helping students with their more formal role as instructors, working to figure out appropriate boundaries. In recent years this issue has taken on greater significance. More students come to college with mental health histories, campuses debate the use of “safe spaces” and “trigger warnings,” and political and social tensions have risen across the country. Reasons like these make it important to reflect on the conversational strategies we use when students come to us for help unrelated to course content. Our goals need to include providing the best help for the student, taking care of our own work/life balance issues, and staying inside the scope of our roles and areas of expertise. Below are some strategies that can help accomplish those objectives. Start with listening and supporting Refer to campus resources Know the boundaries If you're worrying that the conversation is blurring into the realm of personal counseling, remember that academic or career advice usually involves more task-oriented discussions and direct advice-giving while emotional counseling entails more listening, interpreting, and processing. When you're unsure how to proceed, it is always a good idea to consult campus offices that regularly deal with student issues and problems. Faculty are a valuable resource for students. Sometimes we are the first to know when a student is struggling with personal issues. Thinking through these conversations before they occur can make them go more smoothly, and most importantly, help the student connect with appropriate resources as seamlessly as possible. Deanna Barthlow-Potkanowicz (, PhD, is an assistant professor at Bluffton University, Bluffton, OH.