An Introduction to the Counseling Center
Our center has a staff of thirteen mental health professionals, and our ranks double in size each year as we are joined by twelve to fifteen wonderful doctoral students and interns. Our trainees are a passionate, dedicated group. They bring new life and fresh knowledge into the Center, and the services they provide are highly regarded by UO students.
Students who seek our services present a variety of problems ranging from relationship breakups to anxiety and depression to academic difficulties. A number of students face serious mental health challenges during college. Others may experience a crisis when encountering a significant loss, a trauma, or a medical challenge. We see a significant number of students with eating disorders or substance abuse problems. We also see freshman struggling with the transition to college and seniors daunted by the transition to the “real world.”
We want you to know that whatever the issue your student is welcome here. If they need specialized services or longer term therapy we may ultimately refer them to the community. In the past, students could access our services via scheduled intake sessions or afternoon drop in hours. In 2010-11, our center and counseling centers across the country experienced a surge in demand for counseling services. To better respond to this increased demand and to be more responsive to students whose needs are truly urgent, we have moved to a brief phone assessment system as the point of entry. Now most students access our services by calling us and scheduling a 15 minute telephone appointment with a counselor. We have found that with this new system students can be evaluated more quickly and directed to the best resources most efficiently.
Depending upon a student’s mental health needs, life situation, and resources, they may receive brief individual therapy or group therapy at UCTC or be referred to a therapist or a low-fee counseling agency in the community. Over the years we have built up a strong network of referral resources, and when we refer students out, we try to match them with therapists who have expertise with their concerns.
We find that group therapy works best with certain concerns, such as helping a student develop their interpersonal skills or overcome social anxiety. In a typical year, we also run groups for alcohol or drug abuse, grief and loss, and eating disorders.
You may be very familiar with therapy, and at different moments, therapy can be different things. It includes elements of education, mentoring, and compassionate witnessing. Sometimes therapy involves teaching a student new skills for coping with life in order to let go of self-defeating patterns. At other times, it may involve exploring and healing the past. In special moments, the “doors of perception” swing open, allowing more light and more truth to come in. The ultimate aim is to enhance a student’s self and interpersonal awareness, build psychological resilience and self-esteem, and increase a student’s ability to be successful in school.
Our staff not only provides mental health counseling, but we are intimately involved with the life of the university. Staff and trainees offer workshops to the campus, help train resident advisors in the fall, present to academic classes, mentor student leaders, and consult with faculty and staff about students in crisis. We also are available to consult with parents who are concerned about their student’s well being and unsure of how to proceed. In sum, we are devoted to helping students overcome mental health and emotional challenges so that they can succeed academically and in life.
Having worked with many students over the years, I have come to appreciate the power of knowing thyself as the beginning of self-empowerment, healthy relationships, and emotional wisdom.
Mark Evans, Ph.D. Staff Psychologist