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Despite surge of calls after midterms, Counseling Center still has no waitlist

A new scheduling system and group therapy sessions has increased availability for appointments


Central Michigan University's new counseling center activity room in on Sept. 7 in Foust 135. 

Central Michigan University's Counseling Center places a huge importance on timeliness and urgency when scheduling appointments for overwhelmed students, especially at this time of year.

This point in the semester is the busiest time at the Counseling Center. Between midterms and finals is when the Counseling Center gets an influx of appointments, said Michelle Bigard, associate director of the Counseling Center. 

However, even with the surge of calls, the Counseling Center has no waitlist. 

“When people call, in general, we get them (an appointment) in about a week – granted, if they have a relatively flexible schedule,” Bigard said. 

Bigard said there are several reasons behind its efficiency this year.

She said the Counseling Center has a new system for scheduling appointments. In the past, staff scheduled routine appointments for students to come in every week or every other week, even though they may not have needed a follow-up. 

Now, appointments are scheduled one at a time. If a student needs another appointment later, they can call again and will be seen within one week. This provides more availability in counselor's schedules.

Staff at the Counseling Center have been promoting group counseling sessions through outreach on campus. The Counseling Center has many support groups: Anxiety Busters, Survivor Support, Grief and Loss Support, Family Matters and International Student Support. Any student can attend group sessions for free. 

The rollout of Therapy Assistance Online (TAO) has also helped the Counseling Center's efficiency as well, Bigard said. TAO is free for CMU students if they register using their student email. It is a mobile-friendly site that provides guided therapy lessons for anxiety, relationships, depression, and many other mental health concerns.

Bigard said counseling helps students pause and reflect on their thoughts and feelings.  Knowing when to make an appointment is the first step. 

“You should seek help when what usually works doesn’t any more,” Bigard said. “Whether you notice a decrease in motivation or you can’t get out of bed, that's the time to reach out.''