Published on Brock University (http://www.brocku.ca)
From time to time a student seeking an accommodation will ask a counsellor to send a letter of support to someone at Brock. In accordance with our confidentiality policy, before any communication can take place the counsellor will require that the student sign a "Release of Information Form" which stipulates that the service has permission to share information about the student's counselling with whoever is designated on the form. Students in need of an accommodation are encouraged by their counsellor to speak directly with the faculty or staff person to determine if a letter is necessary.
A letter of support would typically include the period of time during which the student was seen and the number of visits. It would also give a more or less general statement about the area of concern that the student has been dealing with and may include a request for specific support.
Most letters of support are requested by a student who has a history with the counsellor (e.g. they saw the counsellor earlier in the year when they had the problems or are currently still working on them with the counsellor). Some students, however will postpone seeing a counsellor until they are already in severe academic difficulty, in fact it may have been a referral from a faculty or staff person that has prompted them to get help. Whether referred or coming in on their own, such students may show up for counselling and ask us for a letter of support because they feel an immediate need for an accommodation.
Obviously in the latter case a counsellor will be less familiar with the student's situation. Our policy however is that we will always write a letter to confirm that a student saw a counsellor if the student requests it. In some of those situations the letter may indicate that the student, although seeing the counsellor for the first time, intends to continue in counselling, which should reduce the possibility of future academic problems.