Counseling center offers array of services

On the first Monday of each month, the Allegheny College Counseling Center hosts therapy dogs, one of its most popular programs. While many students are aware of this program, many others do not utilize several other services the Counseling Center offers free of charge to all students.

Anxiety, depression, stress and academic concerns are some of the main issues about which counselors assist students. However, Allegheny students can visit the center for help with any personal, academic or social problem that may arise.

“We also work with students about substance abuse, trauma, sexuality, gender identity and eating disorders,” said counselor Michelle Miller.

According to Miller, approximately 46 percent of the class of 2015 visited the Counseling Center before graduation. In the 2014 calendar year, 586 students utilized services offered by the counselors.

Students can visit the center, located on the third floor of Reis Hall, Monday through Friday, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. No appointment is necessary to talk with a counselor, allowing students to visit freely and without a long-term commitment. If the Counseling Center is not available, students can call Stairways in Meadville. After hours, students can also contact Safety and Security if they believe a student is in danger of harming themselves or others.

In a survey from spring 2015, 95 percent of students who used the Counseling Center rated their counseling experience as positive and 99 percent would recommend the services to a friend. The counselors individually receive excellent reviews, with 98 percent of students calling their assistance “very helpful,” a four or a five on a one-to-five scale.

As a college counseling center, however, there are services Allegheny College cannot provide. If a student expresses a concern that requires frequent counseling sessions or specialized care, then the Counseling Center will refer the student to a counselor off campus.

“If a practitioner has a certain skill within a particular area and we think a student is best fit for them, we will refer the student off campus,” said Miller.

Although the Counseling Center does not have the resources necessary to deal with every student concern, Miller believes that the center is beneficial to almost every Allegheny student.

“With four full-time counselors, I think we’re really able to cover the campus,” said Miller.

While the services the center offers are well-received, students still believe that the center can improve through better communication. Allegheny’s Counseling Center advertises its services in the dorms, on Gator Day and during freshman orientation, according to Miller. Despite different means the center uses to communicate with the student body, the number one recommendation for how the center can improve its services is better public relations, according to a survey from spring 2015.

“I don’t even know where the Counseling Center is,” Sam Zucker, ’19, said. “Passive advertising, like posters, things that aren’t intrusive, are good, but I feel like there are students who need it who won’t be able to find it.”

If students feel uncomfortable visiting the counselors in person, the Allegheny College website has an online mental health screening section, allowing students to screen themselves for depression, anxiety and bipolar disorders, among several others.

Although she has never visited the center herself, Abby Remis, ’18, hopes students take advantage of its services.

“I hope that even if [students] don’t find an immediate solution to their problems, maybe the Counseling Center can provide them with someone to talk to, or resources they can reach out to,” said Remis.