Mar 232003
Authors: Willow Welter

Three counselors at the University Counseling Center expressed one common wish: that more students would take advantage of their services.

The UCC, located in Clark C-36, offers individual, group, couples and family therapy.

Full-time student fees cover five sessions per semester. After five meetings, the cost may go up to $20, or $5 if a student has health insurance, said Mark Benn, a psychologist who works at the center.

“I charge $90 (per session) in my private practice, so any cost to students is very low,” Benn said.

Typical counseling meetings begin only when students seek help for troubling issues in their lives. These students can either call the receptionist to schedule appointments or walk in to the center, where they can usually meet with someone right away.

“We deal with a wide range of student concerns, from depression and anxiety to troubles with relationships to eating disorders to history of abuse,” said Susan MacQuiddy, a psychologist at the UCC. “We always welcome people to come if they have some issue in their lives they want to talk about.”

After an initial assessment session, students can schedule additional appointments where they would likely meet with the same counselor each time.

The professional who assesses a student may also recommend a group session. These groups discuss issues like building relationships, alcoholism, eating disorders, depression and others, said Charles Davidshofer, the director at the UCC. He said group meetings might help students explore solutions to problems.

The UCC offers various programs like the Learning Assistance Center, located in room 104 of the General Services building, and the Stress Management program.

“A lot of students get really stressed out and need to learn how to deal with it before it becomes problematic,” Davidshofer said of the Stress Management program.

Information discussed with a counselor is completely confidential, unless the students reveal they plan to harm themselves or others, or if child abuse is suspected. By law, the counselors cannot disclose any information revealed in a counseling session unless it falls under these circumstances.

Emergency service is also available to people who feel they need to talk to a counselor immediately. The problem or issue that needs discussing is irrelevant; an extremely upset student can call about anything, Benn said.

The staff at the UCC includes psychologists, social workers, psychiatrists, counselors, graduate students, interns and paraprofessionals. A student seeking counsel may meet with any one of these staff members, depending on the situation and needs of the individual.

MacQuiddy said individual conversations with a counselor focus on how a student wants to change his or her situation. Next, the counselor helps the person design a plan of action to meet these goals.

Benn said he wishes fewer students viewed seeking therapy as a taboo matter.

“We all seek help from someone,” Benn said. “The only difference is (at the counseling center) you get help from professionals.”

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