Counseling Center wait list down from last fall
Transitioning between high school and college was harder than Josi Tiffany expected. Being in an unfamiliar place, constantly lost among strangers was beginning to take a toll when a professor recommended her to the counseling center.
The Central Michigan University Counseling Center specializes in helping students who are suffering with anxiety, depression, addiction and adjusting to college life, according to the Counseling Center website.
The counseling center is located in Foust Hall. The counseling center's services are free and confidential for the students of CMU.
“It was nice to know I could tell someone my problems and it wouldn’t go anywhere,” Tiffany said, now a junior.
The staff makes sure that there is always a warm and friendly environment for the students, said Ross Rapaport, director of the counseling center. The staff consists of counselors, psychologists, and social workers that work with the students to resolve their problems.
Rapaport said the support staff and counselors work to remember each student by name while the Peggy Clerc, counseling center executive secretary, provides treats for students.
“We do what we can to help make students comfortable when coming to or contacting the Counseling Center. It’s very important to us,” Rapaport said.
The staff cannot prescribe medication so if students or the counselor think they may need to be prescribed medication, they will give you references of professionals that can help you further.
If a student feels they need to meet with a counselor, they go through a mental health screening to determine the next step. This can be done online or in person.
When students contact the counseling center, they’re given a list of questions to answer that varies depending on the type of counseling desired. An online mental health screening is available on the counseling center’s website.
The counseling center is meant for short-term visits, and if the student feels the need for more guidance, the staff has recommendations to get you continued help.
“The number of counseling sessions a student has with their counselor varies depending on the situation. We encourage students to discuss this with their counselor,” Rapaport said. “Regardless of the number of counseling sessions a student has from the Counseling Center, they can always meet with a counselor if they are experiencing an emergency or crisis, or if there is an urgent need to meet with a counselor.”
The fall 2015 semester featured a 107 student long wait list, said Rapaport. By the end of the semester, all students had been offered one or more sessions. While on the wait list, students received resource and referral information, including about emergency sessions.
“During spring semester 2016, we operated essentially without a wait list unless a student was waiting to see a specific counselor. There was not a wait list during the 2016 summer and so far we do not have a wait list this semester,” Rapaport said.
Last fall was one of the largest wait lists the counseling center has encountered.
During the 2014-15 academic year there were 444 students urgent counseling sessions, while the 2015-16 academic year only had 370 urgent sessions, said Rapaport.
Several hotlines that are available on the counseling center website. Since the counseling center is not available 24 hours, students can contact the CMU police in case of emergencies.
There are also nine support groups that are available on campus, including stress and anxiety management, intimate partner violence, and grief and loss. Additional information on the support groups can be found under “Groups and Workshops” on the counseling center’s webpage.
Students are often intimidated by group therapy, said Melissa Hutchinson, group leader of the stress and anxiety support group. She said the average size of groups is less than 8 people.
“Benefits of group counseling are greater when a student is an active participant, but we recognize that all students are different and have different needs,” Hutchinson said.
“We encourage students to attend at least a couple of times to really get a feel for the group. They are often surprised at the benefits and how easily they can feel comfortable.”
Rapaport said not everyone feels comfortable when they first meet with a counselor. Depending on the person, it may take multiple meetings or even having to switch to a new counselor entirely to be able to open up.
If a student doesn’t think a counselor is right for them, there are other counselors available. There are twelve professional counselors on staff, plus an intern. All of their information can be found on the counseling center website under, meet the staff.
“I was pretty open right away because I wanted everything off my chest,” Tiffany said. “It only took me a couple sessions until my counselor and I decided that I was doing fine on my own and no longer needed counseling.”