New counseling center structure in the works

Junior Lindsey Bruun has used the SPU counseling center in the past, but she said she was unhappy with the quality of service she received there.

"My main concern is that there be the same full-time counselor there for all four years that a student is at SPU," Bruun said.

Because of that experience, she attended a student government senate meeting on Oct. 15, 2001 to discuss upcoming changes for the counseling center.

Currently, the center is under the supervision of the School of Psychology, Family and Therapy and is located in Watson Hall. There are plans to change its supervision to that of the Office of Student Life (OSL), effective fall quarter of 2002.

Kathleen Braden, associate vice president and dean of Student Life, has been working through the details of the potential new center’s structure and size. "The proposal for the new change calls for additional counselors," Braden said.Braden said that it is also a possibility that the location of the center will change from Watson Hall.

Braden, who is responsible for writing the proposal for the new structure and for supervision of the center, said that the purpose of the change is to improve the service for the students.

"She [Braden] has been paying attention to what other universities do and what student needs need to be met through the new center," ASSP President Emily Cochran said.

Braden said that her proposal will be sent to the President’s Cabinet for approval, but she plans to keep ASSP leadership informed along the way. She is also interested in getting feedback from students.

Currently, the counseling center is an educational program as well as a facility to help those who need counseling. There is an intern program for students learning to be counselors.

Another matter that will be discussed in the coming months is how the cost of the counseling sessions will be covered at the new location. The normal fee for a counseling session has been $10 in the past, but when Bruun went there for sessions, the counseling center charged her $10 for every two visits instead of every one visit.

Bruun said she was accommodated so that she would not have to ask her parents for money.

Thoburn said, "We are trying to more strictly adhere to the fee than we have in the past … since $10 does not even begin to cover the counseling center’s overhead." Thoburn said the SPU counseling center tries to make up these costs by also counseling people who are not directly affiliated with SPU.

"The counseling center will possibly be covered by a base fee by every student," Vice President of Campus Ministries Tony Martin said.

"I haven’t heard it discussed seriously that just the students who use the center will be charged," Cochran said. It is more likely that all students will share the cost, according to Cochran.

Braden said that most other universities she has looked at charge every student who attends that particular university.

"Obviously $10 doesn’t cover the full cost of a counseling session, so students are already sharing the cost through their tuition," Cochran said.

She believes that the counseling center fee will eventually be included in tuition. "I believe it is very reasonable for all students to share the cost of the center, since mental health issues are a community concern," Cochran said.

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Title: New counseling center structure in the works | Author: Andrew Steiner | Section: News | Published Date: 2001-10-31 | Internal ID: 2254