With the student demand for counseling services growing 7 percent each year, a pilot program of new Satellite Counselors Centers is in the works for students. The two-year, $500,000 program will give students quicker and easier access to counseling and coaching services.
“We are rolling out the satellite services at the student health services this semester, so that will be up and running in a couple of weeks, but then other locations are being planned in future semesters,” Scott Strader, the director of the counseling center, said.
Strader said the first of these centers should be opening in a couple weeks with two additional centers scheduled to open next semester.
After being denied an initial request for additional counseling center funding from the state, the university was forced to look for other ways to help offer more services to students.
The reasons for the increase in demand, according to Strader, can be pinpointed.
“When you think of the demands of college students these days, which has changed over the years,” Strader said. “More students are going to school part-time, that have to have full- or part-time jobs in order to finance school, even more non-traditional students (those that are married, or have children and are returning to school).”
Strader said one of the main reasons the satellite counseling centers were created was to better serve students. With these centers, counseling services will be available beyond the normal hours of a workday. The extended hours of operation will include not just counselors, but also psychiatrists.
“It is really a matter of additional availability for counseling services, but also an expansion of hours,” Strader said.
Counseling services are not the only thing the satellite centers will offer. Angelica Harris, the assistant vice president of wellness, said students will also have access to professional life coaches from the three full-time coaches currently employed.
Though there are plans in place to hire more professional coaches in the future, Harris said there are currently an additional 14 university staff members who went through the coaching training last fall and are ready to fill in and help.
“Coaching and counseling differ in three major areas: The focus, the relationship that students would have with that professional and the role that the professional plays in the student’s life,” Harris said. “Coaching is essentially a one-on-one relationship in which a student can work toward whatever goals they have identified. If they want some additional goal setting strategies and additional accountability, they can work with a coach to make sure that it happens.”
With counseling services widening across campus, in both programs available and location, one purpose remains in place.
“We do not refer to students that are seeking counseling or coaching services as, ‘patients’. We may sometimes refer to them as ‘clients’, but mostly just as students, because that is who they are first and foremost,” Harris said.