Counseling center looks to future

The Allegheny College Counseling and Personal Development Center is a resource that provides free, confidential counseling for all current, active Allegheny College students. Director of the Counseling and Personal Development Center, Trae Yeckley said deciding to talk to a counselor “shows a lot of strength.”

Yeckley commented on why counselors can be a useful resource for college students.

“As college students you are under a lot of pressure, academically, and socially,” Yeckley said. “It is helpful to have someone to externalize your thoughts to and help you through the decision-making process.”

Currently, the counseling department consists of Trae Yeckley and Charity Patterson. Patterson officially started in May 2018. An offer has been made for a new counselor who has accepted and will begin Oct. 1, 2018.

The counseling center offices have moved from Reis Hall to Winslow Health Center in Shultz Hall located off Park Avenue. Hours are Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. The counseling webpage on the Allegheny College site is not up to date with this information.

“Come in as if you are going to the health center, check in at the front desk and they will notify us, you’ll come back, and we have our own private waiting room in the back,” Yeckley said.

Every student can receive 14 sessions of counseling per year, according to Yeckley. This does not include initial and crisis circumstances. Services are free and confidential, and a student’s insurance will not be billed. For privacy concerns, information cannot be released to parents, professors or administration. In the case of a crisis these conditions may vary. If the crisis is life-threatening, the Dean of Students Office will be notified, but parents are not notified unless a release of information has been signed, according to Yeckley.

If there is a circumstance where students need more counseling, they will be referred off campus, Yeckley said. Yeckley did not endorse specific locations.

There are counseling services available off-campus for students.

Megan Lenherr and Corrine Livingston are two counselors at Women’s Services Inc. on Spring Street in Meadville.

According to Lenherr, she explicitly provides services for clients who have been exposed to trauma involving sexual and domestic violence. Both women and men are eligible for counseling.

Lenherr offers two types of counseling.

“Short term (therapy) is solution-focused and goal-oriented and long-term therapy that is trauma informed and working through long term trauma issues,” Lenherr said.

Additionally, Lenherr provides advocacy for her clients. She can act as a resource for clients that need support in proceedings dealing with protection from abuse orders and sexual violence protection orders, and can accompany students to the hospital, police station or court.

“Individuals do not need to go through the process alone,” Lenherr said.

Lenherr added that if a student needs to meet on campus, they can set up an appointment and meet in a confidential location.

Appointments can be weekly or more frequently depending on what is necessary for the individual. If in crisis, her clients can email her in between sessions.

Other services Lenherr recommended include Parkside Psychological Association and a private practice run by Jennifer Porter. Both are located on Chestnut Street in Meadville.

Looking forward, Yeckley aims to have the Counseling and Personal Development Center more integrated into campus life.

Yeckley said the hashtag #gatorcare will begin as a campaign to focus on the development of wellness and self-care techniques for students. Yeckley projects this campaign to begin around midterms this semester.

Chaplain Jane Ellen Nickell said there will be mindfulness walks once a week in the morning starting on Wednesdays led by Patterson.

Yeckley also mentioned bringing in a yoga instructor second semester for students.

The Wednesday morning mindfulness walks and the 30-day Mindfulness Challenge are two initiatives on campus for which the Wellness Education Learning Committee has played a leading role.

The goal of WEL is to provide programs and initiatives on campus that focus on all aspects of wellness including intellectual, social, spiritual, emotional, occupational and physical wellness.

The board includes Nickell, Patterson, Associate Dean of Students for Wellness Education Gretchen Beck, Director of Peak Performance and Fitness Bayu Purnomo, Student Leadership and Involvement Office Manager Tricha Young, Assistant Dean of Students Joe Hall and Title IX Coordinator Gilly Ford and meets Thursdays at 9 a.m. Students are welcome to be involved, according to Nickell.

More information can be found on My Allegheny and a sign outside Grounds for Change, located on the second floor of the Henderson Campus Center.

“We are also trying to develop good citizens and healthy people,” Nickell said. “Even academics benefit from you being healthy. This is something that affects everyone here. If people do not feel safe or respected, then that affects our health. … What can we do as a community to help each other feel helped and supported?”

The Counseling and Personal Development Center operates Monday through Friday 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. in the Winslow Health Center in Shultz Hall. The counseling center can be reached at 814-332-4368. Appointments are not needed for a crisis. In an emergency, call 911 or public safety, which can be reached at 814-332-3357.