Janell McGruder, Director of Counseling Services, is constantly making changes to various parts of Counseling Services in an effort to better serve the Knox community.
Anne Ehrlich, Vice President for Student Development, put a spotlight on some of these changes at a recent Town Hall. Speaking on behalf of Counseling Services, Ehrlich noted an increase in clinical hours, two new contract counselors, teletherapy and evening hours.
The two contract counselors will help lessen the workload of Counseling Services’ three core counselors and make the services that are offered more widely available to students. In addition, this Winter Term, 80 more clinical hours are available for use than were available last Winter Term. Clinical hours are to be used specifically for counseling not outreach.
Gabrielle Aviles, senior, thinks the added hours will be helpful. Although she herself has been lucky enough to be able to schedule appointments without any trouble, some of her friends have struggled to find an open time slot that worked with their schedule to get in to see a therapist.
Ehrlich reported that Counseling Services will also be adding evening hours for students who need them. McGruder gave elementary education students as an example of students who would be eligible for use of evening hours since they spend most of the day off campus. McGruder noted that Counseling Services will not offer crisis appointments during evening hours, but students can get a crisis appointment at any time by calling Campus Safety.
Aviles was disappointed to learn that the evening hours will be closed to most students and that crisis appointments won’t be offered at those times.
Counseling Services will also be testing a new teletherapy program. Teletherapy will allow students to attend therapy sessions from their rooms via a video call with one of Knox’s counselors. McGruder expects teletherapy to be a useful tool for students. Additionally, McGruder has added more group sessions to the Counseling Services calendar to be held on Saturdays.
Along with working on improving Counseling Services, McGruder is also working on outreach and dispelling misinformation. McGruder wants students to know that there is no waiting list for counseling appointments. She says there hasn’t been since 2016. Additionally, students who feel they need more than biweekly appointments can talk to their therapist about weekly appointments.
McGruder explained that the biweekly appointment setup is standard across most practices. She admitted that students coming from private practices with weekly appointments might struggle to adjust to biweekly appointments, but she sees biweekly appointments as more beneficial.
“In order to see change and to actually make change in the homework that you’re doing, it is a two-week process,” McGruder said.
McGruder has created a small team of Counseling Peer Educators to help with outreach. Alyssa Habschmidt, sophomore, is one of three Counseling Peer Educators. She helps host and run Counseling Services outreach events. Sometimes, she tables in Seymour Union; other times she facilitates games or talks about mental health issues for Counseling Services events or private groups.
Counseling Peer Educators are available to talk to any group of people through an outreach form that can be filled out on the Counseling Services website. Currently, Habschmidt is working on reaching out to RAs to offer to host events with their residents on various mental health topics.