By Elly Spencer
The Baylor Counseling Center is breaking down barriers that exist between concerned counselors and distressed students with two new programs.
“Come As You Are” and “Let’s Talk,” are two new programs the counseling center has created to help Baylor’s counselors better reach out to students in need.
The center has also added walk-in hours at their McLane Student Life Center location.
Monique Marsh-Bell, a psychologist at the counseling center, said according to a student survey conducted last semester, the three main issues the counseling center needed to meet were awareness on campus about their programs and locations, as well as a low presence among university minorities.
Bell said the survey was conducted to find out what the counseling center could do differently to better meet the needs of students.
“The survey was the start of correcting the problem,” said James Marsh, director of counseling services.
Because the survey results showed a missing link between the counseling center and awareness among Baylor’s minority students, Marsh-Bell said the counselors decided to pair with the multicultural office in the Bill Daniel Student Center to better reach minorities.
Based off of Cornell University’s original counseling program, “Let’s Talk” is a program for students to see a health professional for 15 minutes at a time. The walk-in is located in the multicultural conference room on the third floor of the SUB, and is open every Wednesday from 1:30-4:30 p.m.
Marsh-Bell said the program will also help the counseling center be more efficient because the locations will specialize in certain areas.
“It relieves our counseling center because some of the easier things to solve are focused on over there,” Marsh-Bell said.
The counseling center staff hopes to increase the meeting times throughout the week, when student awareness of the program grows.
A similar program, “Come As You Are,” partners the counseling center with Baylor’s Spiritual Life.
Baylor psychologist Emma Wood said the survey also asked students to describe where they would tell distressed students to go seeking help on campus. The number one response was the McLane Student Life Center’s counseling center and the second place result was the Bobo Spiritual Life Center.
Wood said this was the reason the counseling center decided to partner with the Bobo Spiritual Life Center.
This program is a small group therapy session based out of the center at 3:30 p.m. every Tuesday.
Wood said the small group sessions are designed to be a safe, judgment-free zone for students to talk about pressing issues in their lives.
Wood partners with Kristen Richardson, the director for spiritual formation. The two of them sit in on student discussions and help guide topic conversation.
“Baylor students have topics that they really want to talk about, especially topics based around belonging and connecting with each other,” Wood said.
The counseling center staff believes the new branches will widen awareness among Baylor students and allow them to feel more comfortable with reaching out for help.
“We want to remove these barriers as much as possible,” Marsh-Bell said.
Information about Baylor’s counseling center and services can be found at www.baylor.edu/counseling_center/.