In this talk, Dr Jennifer Veilleux analyses difficult student situations by breaking such situations down into their basic elements. This allows to explore ways on how to best deal when confronted with those situations and it also encourages self-reflection. She takes the audience through a 6-step process that can be applied to a variety of situations when navigating challenging discussions with students, but the proposed 6-step process also works for approaching difficult situations within a team, for example.


Every instructor encounters student situations that are complex and challenging. While it is tempting to label the student as “difficult,” this talk aims to help instructors recognize and manage these challenging student encounters with compassion. I will review a Six Step Plan for navigating challenging student situations, which includes identifying the specific behaviors that you find “difficult” to manage and self-reflecting on the repercussions of those behaviors for you, for the student, and for other key stakeholders. We will discuss how and why to brainstorm potential factors that explain the behaviors, and then to document, consult, and take action. This talk leverages psychological science and insights from over a decade of doing therapy, with the aim of empowering instructors to recognize the individual, relational, and systemic factors that often coalesce into these “difficult” teaching situations. At the end of this talk, I hope that attendees will engage in reflective practice about which kinds of situations are most challenging and to have compassion both for themselves and for the struggling student.

About the speaker

Dr Jennifer C. Veilleux (she/her) is an Associate Professor of Psychological Science at the University of Arkansas in the USA. She is a licensed clinical psychologist who received her PhD in Clinical Psychology at the University of Illinois at Chicago in 2011. Her research focuses on emotion regulation with an eye toward integrating social, personality, and clinical science to understand what prompts people to avoid their feelings or “act out” on their feelings, as well as how to best help people cope with their emotions. She teaches undergraduate and graduate courses on emotion and personality, and has regularly taught statistics and research methods at the undergraduate level. At the graduate level, she supervises doctoral students learning to do psychotherapy and psychological assessments. In her personal live, Dr. Veilleux is married with two elementary school aged children, where she enjoys listening to musical theatre and reading young adult fiction.