Take advantage of counseling services

As midterm study guides fill binders and group study sessions consume evenings, this semester’s workload starts to take its toll on students. Stress is no stranger to the student body this time of year.

Rather than relying on the weekends to decompress, students should take advantage of the facilities offered by Baylor – specifically their newly revamped counseling center.

Baylor recently implemented a $5 million plan which expands the Title IX office, counseling center and Department of Public Safety. With their portion, the counseling center has hired more counselors and other staff, lengthened their hours of operation and nixed their session limit. Students can also see a counselor the same day of their first visit via the Walk-In Clinic. The clinic is even open over the summer for those who choose to stay in Waco.

This is a valuable resource available to anyone with a Baylor ID. Once students graduate, this luxury will no longer be available, and one can expect to pay $100 or more per hour of therapy. Weekly visits to a counselor at that rate amount to $5,200 per year.

The center also teaches healthy living habits, such as managing a proper diet, sleeping habits and maintaining a balanced lifestyle. At a time when forgoing one’s own health for the sake of GPA is normal, students could also benefit from these tips.

What also sets the facility apart is its use of a questionnaire prior to a student’s first session. This allows counselors to track their patients’ behavioral patterns and monitor improvements. These results are beneficial for students as well, as they allow them to visualize their progress in whatever they are seeking the center’s services for.

Those who have never been to a counselor may have preconceived ideas of what going to a session might look like. They may picture themselves lying on a long couch and being asked to describe their feelings, the way it is portrayed in many movies and TV shows. This is not the case. Rather, students’ needs are met based on an initial assessment.

“From the information gained in this appointment, the counselor will make recommendations to meet your individual needs and provide you with referrals and resources relevant to you,” the center’s website says. These recommendations may point the individual to a specific counselor, a group therapy session or something else more relevant. This ability to cater to one’s specific needs is another reason why students should take advantage of the counseling center.

While one’s needs may be met in the office, they may also want to meet in a group setting with people dealing with the same issues. As already mentioned, group sessions can be one of the avenues the counselor will recommend to their patient. This may be a viable alternative for those who prefer working in groups rather than one-on-one meetings.

For those who don’t find themselves overly stressed or in need of crisis counseling, the center’s services can still be relevant. Setting aside designated time for communicating with a professional can serve as a mid-week respite during the tumult of attending classes and maintaining a social life. Certainly, many people have baggage which they have never dealt with or even known they carried.

The counseling center has clearly equipped itself with better tools to serve the student body. Not only are they open longer on certain days, but they have more staffers to meet students where they are. Whether it be stress management, serious personal matters or just venting, every student can benefit from the counseling center. It’s free, and it is accessible — students should consider taking advantage of it before they graduate.