Associate Dean of Students and Director of Counseling and Health Services, Jeff Klug said that the strategic and focused restructuring of the Counseling Center would allow students to get the help that they need. One initiative brought to that cause is the organization of more group sessions like “Slow Your Roll.”
Health Educator Emily Dimon will be offering the group in order to help students take a look at their marijuana use and how they might moderate it.
Klug said that “heavy and daily marijuana use is a significant problem for many students here. We see the negative effects of that reflected in a student’s mood, academic performance, attendance and motivation.”
The student-friendly group is based on a harm-reduction model that supports students in negating the adverse effects of marijuana rather than preaching complete sobriety. Klug emphasized that the four-week class is non-judgmental and completely confidential. He said that this was the second time this group has been offered and that he hoped to see enrollment grow through self-referral and referrals from counselors.
“Slow Your Roll” is just one of the Counseling Center’s many new changes and offerings this semester. The Center has also looked into their staffing structure after the retirement of two long-term counselors, Peter Guthrie and Robin Woods. They now have two full-time counselors, Klug and Melissa Rideout.
Their team also includes Case Manager Courtney Ruggles, who assists students in accessing resources both on and off campus. Klug said that this reconfiguration of the staff, with the addition of one other counselor for ten hours per week “will help us to be more strategic and focused on helping our students.”
The Counseling Center’s program consists of 12 visits of an open-ended counseling model with no session limitations. This decision was made in order to be equitable to the student body at large.
“We have new students requesting appointments all the time and we want everyone to have a chance to come to the Counseling Center, if they need to,” Klug said. Another reason for the shift was to help students focus on answers and solutions to their problems in a timely manner.
Klug also said that they wanted to be good stewards of their limited resources, in order to help students effectively.
“Most college campuses were not designed to be comprehensive psychiatric centers. In my opinion, they are really designed to help students be just that: students,” Klug said.
Students who need additional support are aided in finding suitable off campus alternatives.
Another exciting addition to the Counseling Center is a group room. The room will soon host a nine-week program, coordinated by Rideout, for people to learn better ways to manage stress and anxiety. The effectiveness of such programs and the services offered in general will be gauged through satisfaction surveys given to students when they visit.
“This could begin to benchmark whether what we do is relevant to the students who come to see us,” Klug said. Such a measure befits the primary goal of the Counseling Center, which is to “help students who come to see us to have the best possible experience they can have at Wheaton and enjoy life here at this wonderful school.”