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Counseling Center increases salary range in response to staffing shortage

The Counseling Center has faced a staffing shortage since early in the spring semester. ORACLE FILE PHOTO

The Counseling Center is having a hard time filling vacancies, so it is giving clinicians a pay bump.

The professional staff annual salary hiring range for staff clinician was increased from $51,000-$57,000 to $58,348-65,000. Staff psychologist salaries were raised to $71,304-80,000 from its previous range of $63,500 – $70,000.

The center adjusted the clinicians’ salaries to better match the market for mental health professionals in the area and alleviate the staffing shortage, according to Counseling Center Director Scott Strader. 

Strader said the center’s ideal staff number within their budget would be 28 full-time counseling staff including psychologists and clinicians, six full-time counselors-in-training and three part-time counselors. Currently, the university has 11 vacancies.

Two full-time psychologists, one full-time clinician, three part-time clinicians and one part-time psychologist have been hired since Aug. 1. The staff will have 17 professional counselors in November, he said.

In spring, the center’s goal was to hire 14 more staff members by the end of the semester. This included seven clinicians, five psychologists and two master’s degree clinicians, according to a Jan. 11 Oracle article.

Strader said it’s more difficult to hire psychologists than mental health clinicians, but all counseling professionals are in demand. He said there is a severe lack of mental health specialists throughout the country, placing a high demand on psychologists and mental health professionals.

The nation’s schools and universities are experiencing a scarcity of counselors, psychologists, social workers and therapists, which is contributing to the student mental health crisis, according to a Aug. 31 Washington Post report. Since the start of the pandemic, there has been an increase in demand and a decrease in supply.

Though there has been an increase in the number of students requesting same-day counseling appointments compared to last semester, there is not an increase in overall demand for services, according to Strader.

Strader said the Counseling Center has scheduled 2,312 appointments this fall, and has almost 800 future appointments scheduled right now. There were 18,543 appointments in the 2021-22 school year and 23,595 appointments in the 2019-2020 year

The affiliation with TimelyCare, a virtual platform implemented in 2022 created to provide free 24/7 access to mental health care services for USF’s enrolled students, has been beneficial, according to Strader. 

He said the platform is helping meet students’ needs for counseling services by offering additional services to the ones available at the center.