By Ava Dunwoody | Staff Writer
The added stress of the pandemic has led the Baylor Counseling Center to create a new support group, entitled “Quarenteam.” Starting Sept. 24, the group will meet via zoom from 5-6 p.m. every Thursday.
Postdoctoral Fellow Lauren Volpei of the Baylor Counseling Center will be facilitating the meetings each week and said she is “looking forward to it.” In the What’s New BU email sent out on Sept. 14, she announced the formation of Quarenteam.
“This is not therapy, but rather a safe place to support one another as a listener and participant,” Volpei said in the email. The group is made to discuss the impact of COVID-19, which “could be how you have been impacted by being sick, knowing others who have been or currently are sick, [or] how quarantine and social distancing has felt.”
The idea for the support group came from a Counseling Center brainstorm, where they “are always thinking about the needs of the students,” Volpei said. They decided that a support group would be the best format for healing.
Each week, Volpei will send a Zoom link out to each individual who expressed interest in the group via email. Because this is an open group, Volpei said, students are welcome to come to as many or as few meetings as needed.
“I want to figure out with the group members what they want it to look like,” Volpei said. “My hope is that it would be flexible and comfortable — casual, in a way — and that it wouldn’t have this heavy feeling, but [one of] a safe, warm environment.”
So far, Volpei said, they have “definitely had people interested” and a lot of people who were “excited” that the Counseling Center is now offering the support group.
Volpei said that “mental health is always important,” and “we need to attend to ourselves holistically,” but the pandemic has made it more evident. She said the Counseling Center wants to “proactively respond to the possibility that there may be psychological distress.”
Even apart from the Quarenteam support group, Volpei said she encourages students to contact the Counseling Center, despite it looking a bit different this semester. In a video posted on Baylor’s website, Assistant Director of Training Dr. Ed Rogers talked about the benefits of teletherapy.
“Students have often requested these options in the past, usually to accommodate their busy schedules,” Rogers said. “You can receive care straight from the comfort of your own home. It also may help to reduce some barriers that students might have with in-person sessions … A lot of studies have shown that it’s just as effective as in person therapy.”
Contact the Counseling Center to schedule a free initial appointment with a therapist, or contact Volpei to learn more about Quarenteam through email at Lauren_Volpei@baylor.edu. She said if any students are interested, she would “love to tell them about the group.”
“My hope is that those that are involved in the group will have an experience of feeling understood,” said Volpei. She wants them to have “an experience of being able to share about any sort of challenges, anxieties or fears they have had related to COVID and be able to get support from other students.”