Health & Wellness

A Safe Haven

By Brittany Nelson
Published: Wednesday, October 5, 2005, in The Utah Statesman
 
The rainy, cloudy days Logan has had lately are enough to put a damper on anyone's day. But fortunately for students, the Utah State University Counseling Center is a place to get help in lifting dark feelings.
 
For many students, college marks a huge transition point in their lives. Some can deal with these changes quickly, but it takes a little more effort for others to overcome them. The Counseling Center offers a place for people to receive support, skills and feedback from professionals to help them in whatever area they may need.
 
"It's OK to ask for help," Mary Doty, director of the Counseling Center, said. "There's no shame in that. It's kind of comforting and reassuring to know that you don't have to do it all yourself."
 
This help is especially useful with the recent tragedy that shook USU. Doty said the Counseling Center is trying to focus on what the impact will be. She said people will probably have the hardest time when things start to calm down.
 
"People are in shock now," Doty said. "It strikes at the heart of Utah State and I think the campus is now very aware of how unpredictable and unsafe life is."
 
Although the Counseling Center is involved with helping people deal with tragedies, their services are offered for many other things.
 
Students can receive this help through a variety of services, including individual, couples and group counseling, assessment and consultation services. Some of these services are ongoing, but students can also go to the center for a one-time visit. Group topics can focus on anything from anxiety or body image to skills training or diversity support.
 
Another well-known feature of the Counseling Center is its Counseling Center Animal-Assisted Therapy program.
 
It was started in 1997 by a pre-doctoral intern and was so well-liked that it stuck even after the intern and her therapy animals had left. Doty, who is the owner of the current therapy cat and dog, said research has shown that interaction with animals relieves stress and helps with feelings of loneliness. Therefore, the animals are free to interact with patients and participate in sessions.
 
"They have their people that they recognize and will run out to see them," Doty said.
 
The Counseling Center is staffed with professional psychologists and also houses an internship program. Student fees pay for the center, so the cost is free to any student enrolled in six or more credit hours.
 
According to their mission statement, the Counseling Center's main goal is to "facilitate and enrich the overall development and well-being of students at the university." Doty said this basically states what some people don't realize.
 
"We need to accept life on life's terms," Doty said. "The bottom line is that people need people."
 
Doty said the most common issues the center sees are mood, behavioral, anxiety and adjustment problems. The prevalence of these issues reflects larger society, Doty said, and in recent years people have become more aware of them. But she said any issue can be worked out through some simple learning.
 
"I think a lot of the time, people just don't have the skills they need," Doty said.
 
Some of these skills include being self-aware and self-accepting, as well as having balance in life, Doty said. Many times, students try to take on too much.
 
"Campus is an exciting place and sometimes you want to do it all," Doty said. "Doing it all is great, until it isn't great and you can't do it anymore."
 
Doty said having a center on campus is very beneficial for a number of reasons. First is the closeness of the staff with college issues and the ability to be "plugged into campus."
 
Another major benefit is the confidentiality of services. Doty said records are in no way related to school records and are not seen by anyone but Counseling Center staff. This helps create a sense of trust for students.
 
Jennifer Reese, a junior majoring in broadcast journalism, said she appreciated this trust when she went for a one-time consultation.
 
"I was able to open up and I felt safe talking," Reese said. "They asked me questions that helped me look at things in a different way and it really helped."
 
The Counseling Center is a great resource that Doty said many students probably don't know about. She said for most people, simply saying things out loud is the best medicine.
 
While in college, Doty said one of the most important things to learn is about yourself.
 
"Going to school is about learning, and learning is about life," Doty said. "Life is more than just books and papers and grades. I think that's one of the things that can be a challenge when you come to college. Life has issues attached to it."
 
The Counseling Center is located in Room 306 of the Taggart Student Center. It is open Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m..
 
Jessica Alexander Lauren Moltz sits beside a therapy dog

Media Credit: Jessica Alexander. Lauren Moltz sits beside Griffin, the Counseling CenterĀ“s therapy dog, in the Counseling Center. The Counseling Center is in Room 306 in the Taggart Student Center and is available for any student who wants to talk.

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