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Counseling Center offers more support to students
Counseling Center offers more support to studentsJanuary 20, 2004Michele Barrettmibarret@syr.edu
Syracuse University’s Counseling Center has acquired additional funding, enabling it to launch a dynamic transformation that includes expansion of services and outreach, hiring of a diverse clinical staff and increased administrative support. The center’s new offices opened last fall at 200 Walnut Place.
The Counseling Center, a principal unit of the Division of Student Affairs, provides short?term therapy, crisis intervention, consultation and outreach; it is accredited by the International Association of Counseling Services.
The current professional staff of the Counseling Center consists of 11 therapists, one psychiatric consultant and two support staff personnel. This new staff size is consistent with national standards and creates the opportunity for staff members to apply the center’s mission and vision to a broad spectrum of emotional health care issues on campus.
Previously, despite a wealth of experience and expertise, the center was understaffed and lacked diversity. “As SU is a major research university that attracts students from diverse backgrounds, it was a priority of Student Affairs to have a staff that reflected the diversity within the student population,” says Rebecca S. Dayton, Counseling Center director.
In 1999, the center underwent the first stage of its transformation, converting six graduate assistant positions into three full?time professional staff therapist positions. “This restructuring helped the Counseling Center meet the needs of the University community; but additional issues needed to be addressed to meet the increased demand for mental health services-a trend reflected by colleges and universities across the country,” says Barry L. Wells, senior vice president and dean of student affairs.
In spring 2002, the University Senate approved a significant budget increase for the Counseling Center to hire additional staff and to acquire a new location. In August 2002, the center hired four new therapists and an office coordinator, intensifying the center’s need for a new space.
“When we thought about how we wanted students to feel, it was agreed the new location should be comfortable and welcoming, with enough space to accommodate more students and services,” says Anastasia L. Urtz, dean of students. “The new location accomplishes our goals.”
Walnut Place was home to the center’s hosting of the fourth annual Depression Screening Day – in conjunction with the Employee Assistance Program, the Psychological Services Center and the Goldberg Couple and Family Therapy Center – and the center will be the site of an Anxiety Screening Day on March 24. According to Dayton, the March event will be particularly important. “The college years mark a time of personal and psychological growth,” she says. “While this is exciting for some, it causes anxiety for others, and occasionally, students have difficulty coping with this stress. We want them to know the Counseling Center is available to help them.”
The center has also distributed information to assist faculty in dealing with students’ emotional concerns. “Because faculty members may be the first to be aware of students’ personal difficulties, it is important to provide them with information on available campus resources,” says Tanya S. Bowen, associate director of the Counseling Center. According to Bowen, the Center is also increasing its efforts in the areas of suicide prevention and education, expanded group therapy services, and development of educational programming.
For more information about the Counseling Center, visit http://students.syr.edu/counseling/index.php.