Skip to Main Content

Placement PAL Central: Managing Challenges & Setting Boundaries

This is a guide for Placement PAL Leaders.

Managing Challenges & Setting Boundaries

Difficult or Reluctant Students

However skillful you are and whatever techniques you use, you may still encounter difficult students.

This can be challenging when you’re not a teacher and not that different in age. Here are some of the things you should do:

  • Stay cool and calm when talking with a student. Above all be polite.
  • Separate yourself from the situation – observe the student’s behaviour and try not to become personally involved.
  • Remember that many students are still adolescents and still acting out in rebellion against the authority figures in their lives, so you should not behave in a ‘parental’ fashion. Instead adopt the role of a coach or concerned friend.
  • Do not share information of a personal nature that students have confided in you, unless there is potential for them or others to be put in a harmful situation
  • Listen carefully before saying anything  - showing a student that you are willing and interested in hearing what they have to say goes a long way to solving problem



Setting Boundaries - Facilitator not Therapist!

As new students, some of your PAL group may find that they are struggling with university work, personal issues, learning or housing. As a facilitator, it is important to know where your place is and where you can refer the students for relevant help.

Remember, you are not a counsellor or a therapist, and you should not be dealing with mental health situations or anything else which may cause a strain on you. Correctly signpost and send your students to the help that can be found under BU Support Services.

For example, a student comes to you at the end of a session and asks if they can talk about something personal with you. Be respectful and listen to them, and give them advice if you can or send them to more help. 

Setting Boundaries - Outside of Sessions

 The main boundaries of PAL are in place to ensure you don’t go above and beyond your role. This means meeting up with students outside of PAL sessions is unpaid and off your own back. If you find your students are constantly messaging you for help outside of your sessions, set designated time frames where you would be happy to signpost them or offer advice - equally, ask them to bring their concerns to the next PAL session if you are not happy to discuss outside of sessions.