By Rebecca Fiedler
Students once had to wait up to a week or more to receive their first appointment at the Baylor Counseling Center. As of January, the Counseling Center, located in the McLane Student Life Center, has begun offering a walk-in clinic for initial assessments Mondays through Thursdays.
Students who want to begin receiving counseling at Baylor can walk into the Counseling Center at their own convenience and receive a free evaluation from a counselor and be directed to services suited to help them. The Counseling Center has a team of clinicians who rotate times to tend to students wanting the initial assessments.
“Mainly the appointment is to talk about what the student’s concerns are, and what may be the best service to help them out,” said Dr. Randal Boldt, assistant director of counseling services. “So it’s a problem-solving discussion with the goal of hooking the student up with the service that would be best for them.”
Students can also come to the new walk-in clinic if they feel they are having a psychological emergency.
“It would be hard to say what is an emergency for someone in particular,” Boldt said. “So what will happen is, a student will walk in and we’ll help them determine if their situation is urgent. Then they will be seen in an order of priority based on what their concern is.”
Boldt said the counseling center has not seen an increase in student patients since the walk-in clinic was started at the beginning of the semester.
Boldt said he feels students are often pleasantly surprised to find out they can be seen almost immediately, as it could take sometimes over a week to get an initial appointment. Boldt said he warns that as the semester progresses, more people will come in, and may not be seen the day of their arrival but the next day. Boldt said he feels this is still better than the old system.
“It allows us to be more flexible based on the urgency of a student’s concerns when they come in, so that we could see someone in a crisis much sooner,” he said.
Chesterfield, Mo., senior Lauren McDougal is the vice president of student organization Active Minds, which focuses on educating students on mental health awareness.
“I’m such an advocate of counseling in general, but I think with all the stressors we face in college, even coming in as freshmen, having the ability to go to counseling that’s this available is incredible,” McDougal said.
If Baylor didn’t have campus counseling, students would have to go off campus for counseling services, and McDougal said those outside services are expensive.
“Having the opportunity to go in right at the Counseling Center in the McLane Student Life Center is an incredible thing,” she said.
McDougal said counseling can be helpful to a student.
“I would think if you are in a mindset where you feel you would benefit from counseling at all, it’s a good thing to at least go and try,” she said. “Any time you feel like it would be beneficial.”