Counseling Center focuses on recruitment efforts in response to staffing shortage

Although appointment numbers have slightly decreased during the pandemic, Director of the Counseling Center Scott Strader said hiring more staff is necessary to keep up with the demand of students. ORACLE PHOTO

The Counseling Center will need to address recent staffing shortages in order to keep up with the demand for mental health services from students, according to the Director of the Counseling Center Scott Strader.

Strader said the Counseling Center plans to hire seven clinicians, five psychologists and two master’s degrees clinicians as part of their immediate goal for the spring term.

“We do have some challenges,” Strader said. “It’s happening nationwide, not only in healthcare generally but in college counseling centers, and in a lot of different markets.”

Strader said that finding the right professionals to attend to each student’s needs is vital but has sometimes proved to be a challenge.

“We are definitely looking for experience with the adult population,” Strader said. “We certainly get applications from time to time from individuals who maybe worked with children or families, that doesn’t really translate to the college environment.”

Despite a decrease in crisis and general appointments between the 2019-20 school year, which saw 23,595 appointments, and 2021-22, which totaled 18,543 appointments, Strader said the Counseling Center will still need to hire more staff to adequately meet student demand.

Licensed psychologist Cynthia Glidden-Tracey said although the hiring process isn’t immediate, the current staff is able to provide the necessary services to students until more people join the team.

“Those of us who work here full time are actively invested in that kind of hiring process so that we can all support the efforts to bring some new people on board,” Glidden-Tracey said.

A full-time clinician working at the Center provides 26 hours of counseling a week depending on the Center’s current staffing and the caseload undertaken by each counselor, according to Strader.

Though the Counseling Center is in need of more professionals to attend to an increasing student body, Strader said the university’s investment in the 24-hour online platform TimelyCare, implemented in September 2022, helped manage the demand for individual sessions.

“I think they are a good organization to work with,” he said. “Whether it’s something I think we are going to need in the long term, I think it’s yet to be determined.”

As the market grows competitive due to the high demand for healthcare professionals, Strader said that Associate Vice President Donna Petersen and Vice President Cynthia DeLuca are working on matching salaries and providing the correct funding for the center.

“They really say ‘this is what the center needs in terms of funding and these are the salaries that are really competitive,’” Strader said. “Not only in our area, but we really look nationwide for psychologists and mental health providers.”