Wednesday, August 29, 2007
Counseling Center offers support services to community
By Rebecca Wyatt Thomas, OU Web Writer
Fall semester can be overwhelming. Especially for new students, balancing classes, work, relationships and possibly living away from home for the first time, can be stressful and can challenge their coping skills. Although most will meet the challenge successfully, some students may experience anxiety, depression, and may possibly develop problems such as substance abuse or eating disorders. Fortunately, OU students have a resource available to help them for various personal problems they need addressed. The University Counseling Center, located in the Graham Health Center building, is a convenient and affordable place for students to go for personal counseling, psychiatric services, substance abuse services, testing for learning disabilities and ADHD, outreach programs and consultation.
Students who are feeling troubled can visit the University Counseling Center for any number of reasons including adjustment issues, homesickness, stress, relationship difficulties, grief and loss, anxiety, depression, eating disorders, sexual assault and substance abuse.
“We encourage students to give us a call if they experience feelings that life has lost its meaning or pleasure, sadness, a loss of appetite, withdrawal, fatigue, and loss of energy. If these feelings have been going on for two or more weeks the student may be experiencing depression. It is important for them to know that they can be helped” said Bela Chopp, director of the University Counseling Center.
Students who call the center for counseling services will be asked basic questions over the phone and a strong effort will be made to set up an appointment at that time for them. If it is an emergency, the student will be seen as soon as possible.
“Students are faced with many changes and challenges in their lives. We want to help them through different problems and adjustment issues, and also make sure that the problems don’t become more serious,” Chopp said.
Each counseling session lasts approximately 45 minutes. The first six sessions are free and each additional session is $12. Most students come for an average of 6-8 sessions. Psychiatric sessions are available if a student is in need of medication at a cost of $50 for the first appointment and $25 for each follow-up.
“We are here for the students. If they are experiencing financial hardships, that shouldn’t be a reason not to seek help. There are options such as charging the fee to their student account, reducing the fee temporarily or using the student insurance through OU, which covers the counseling services,” Chopp said.
The University Counseling Center has three licensed psychologists on staff. They are supported by 10 intern counselors who are completing their internships for master’s or Ph.D.-level programs at various universities. These counselors are closely supervised by the senior staff. There is also a psychiatrist on staff.
Students meet with a therapist to discuss their issues and work on strategies or techniques for helping with them.
“Depending on the issues, they may be given ‘homework’ to reinforce certain strategies. Students are also given resources or referred to resources in the community that would help their growth” Chopp said.
The center also offers psycho-educational testing for students who are struggling academically and think they have a learning disability or ADHD. The fee for the testing is $125, which is low in comparison to more than $1300 charged for these services outside the university. Arrangements can be made for the fee to be paid in installments or billed to student accounts.
Career testing and counseling are available as well, however, Chopp said she encourages all students to take advantage of the free options through the Advising Resource Center prior to participating in the Counseling Center’s program. The career testing is available for $125 and in-depth career counseling is also available.
Consultation services are also available to OU faculty and staff. The faculty and staff can call the Counseling Center staff if they have a question or concern about a student and receive advice about approaching or handling certain sensitive situations.
Throughout the year, the University Counseling Center also offers outreach programs including depression, anxiety, eating disorder and substance abuse screenings which are free to students and held in a convenient location such as the Oakland Center. Students can learn if they have any of these issues and set up appointments to help treat them. The University Counseling Center will hold a Depression Screening on Wednesday, Oct. 10 from 11 a.m.-1 p.m. in the main hallway of the Oakland Center.
“No matter how small students think a problem is, they can still benefit from talking to someone about it. You don’t have to be in a serious situation to participate in counseling,” Chopp said. “If you feel like there is a problem or issue that is not going away, come and talk to us.”
As with any therapist, students are entitled to privacy. Their sessions are confidential unless the counselor or therapist believes the student is a danger to themselves or others.
The University Counseling Services are also available to OU faculty and staff at reduced cost and based on income. The general public is also able to use the personal counseling and testing services for a sliding scale price based on family income.
For more information on the counseling service available, visit the University Counseling Center Web site or call (248) 370-3465.