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University Counseling Center

The Suspicious Student

Typically, these students complain about something other than their psychological difficulties. They are generally tense, anxious, mistrustful, isolated, and have few friends. They tend to interpret minor oversights as significant personal rejection and often overreact to insignificant occurrences. They see themselves as the focal point of everyone’s behavior and view everything that happens as having special meaning to them. They are overly concerned with fairness and being treated equally. Feelings of worthlessness and inadequacy underlie most of their behavior, though they may seem capable and bright.

What You Can Do:

  • Express compassion without intimate friendship. Remember, suspicious students have trouble with closeness and warmth
  • Be firm, steady, punctual, and consistent
  • Be specific and clear regarding the standards of behavior you expect


  • Assuring the student that you are his/her friend. Instead, acknowledge that although you are not a close friend; you are concerned about him/her
  • Being overly warm and nurturing
  • Flattery or participating in his/her games. You don’t know his/her rules.
  • Being cute or humorous
  • Challenging or agreeing with any mistaken or illogical beliefs. Be ambiguous

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