OPINION: Harsh criticism of the USF Counseling Center is unwarranted

Recent student complaints should not override all of the good that USF’s Counseling Center does. ORACLE PHOTO

The USF Counseling Center has recently received some harsh criticism for scheduling issues and failure to meet students’ needs. 

Some students vented their frustrations with the center in an Oct. 6 Oracle article saying that those seeking help are not getting the support they need.

While there is always room for improvement, the Counseling Center is a great resource. Claiming it is failing students may deter some from reaching out to get the help they need.

The center actually has a very high success rate among students who seek counseling. At the end of each semester, the Counseling Center provides all students who received counseling the chance to give feedback. 

“Consistently, over 94% of students report overall satisfaction with the services they receive, with over 95% of students reporting they would return to us for additional services in the future if needed and would recommend us to their friends,” Counseling Center Director Scott Strader said in an Oct. 10 letter to The Oracle. 

Several of the complaints were in regard to scheduling issues. Rachel Fischer and Riley Melucci, USF students who sought help from the Counseling Center, both said they wished they were able to meet with their counselors more frequently. 

On average, students wait anywhere from a few days to two weeks for their first counseling appointment, Strader said. Only one student reported waiting longer. While this may be longer than anticipated for some people, it is a fairly normal amount of time to wait.

Mental Health Match, an online service that matches users with therapists in their area, advertises a similar wait time to schedule a session. They list nearly 500 therapists in the Tampa area. This shows that even with more available counselors, there is typically still a wait to get an appointment.

“Usually, you can schedule a first appointment with a new therapist within a couple of weeks of reaching out to them. Sometimes, you may even be able to see them within a few days. The availability of therapists depends on your schedule, the time of year, and how full the counselor’s schedule is when you reach out,” Mental Health Match notes on its website

The Counseling Center also provides various online options for students who are not able to see a counselor immediately. Several online screenings, stress management tools and ways to connect with other students are available any time to supplement between counseling sessions. 

One of these options is Togetherall, a peer-to-peer platform for students to talk to others who may relate to their experience. It is free for students and available 24/7. There are also always experts on standby to assist those that need it.

While it is unfortunate not all students got what they were looking for out of the Counseling Center, that does not mean the center as a whole is ineffective. 

The Counseling Center has been able to help thousands of students over the years. It isn’t fair to claim that they are failing students based on a few anecdotal accounts.