When I first came to SFA, I was informed about the Counseling Services located in the Rusk Building. The purpose of Counseling Services is to help students who are going through a variety of struggles, such as roommate issues or coping with something as serious as bipolar disorder. However, Counseling Services only offers four sessions per semester. The limited sessions don’t meet the demand for many students. To try and compensate, Counseling Services hosts group therapy, which allows people to find others going through a similar experience. Yet, not everyone is comfortable with sharing their personal struggles aloud with other people listening. Counseling Services claims to be able to effectively aid the students of SFA. However, I argue that it is rather ineffective, and SFA is not providing enough counseling for its students.
SFA offers counselors to have master’s level training. This means that they’re unable to diagnose people if they’re showing signs of certain conditions. This is an issue because it is important for people to know what’s going on in their minds and to be able to have a label for it.
Another major issue with the Counseling Services is the number of counselors available to students. Currently, the University has eight counselors on staff. As a result, students have been limited to four one-hour sessions per semester. This might be enough for someone who is dealing with minor issues; however, four sessions per semester completely ignores the population of students who need significant therapy.
Personally, dealing with major depressive disorder, coming to SFA was a huge struggle for me due to the session limit. The counselor assisting me at the time admitted that the four sessions would not be enough for me, so she referred me to the counseling clinic.
The counseling clinic is a training clinic, meaning it is run by students and monitored by licensed counselor educators. I understand that the students who work in the counseling clinic need to earn hours, but I don’t think the clinic should be the only other on-campus option for students. Due to the fact that it is run by counselors in training, it means students will be seeing a counselor with little experience. This is a problem because, depending on the students and the complexity of their conditions, the counselor in training might not be able to provide the support the student needs at that time.
An issue I have with the counseling clinic is that every session is recorded to be studied, and every room has a double-sided mirror that allows other students to observe the sessions.
One possible unintended consequence is that students will feel uncomfortable and not be completely honest about what they’re going through. This is why I believe that SFA’s Counseling Services are unable to effectively provide help for all students who are limited to four sessions and the counseling clinic having employees who are inexperienced.