Letter to the editor: Clarifying the procedures and policies of the Wellness Center
By Dr. Anita Sahgal, director of the Wellness Center and Student Disability Services
Editor’s note: This letter is in response to an article that ran in The Crow’s Nest on 10/02 titled “Wellness Center addresses demand for student counseling.” The author wanted to address any questions readers may have by explaining some of the Wellness Center’s policies.
The following explains the process of obtaining counseling at the Wellness Center. It is our staff’s responsibility to accurately assess the needs of students seeking services and use our expertise to make recommendations for what we believe will be in the best interest of the students.
We do this by having an initial intake appointment and discussing as a staff. This allows us to use our resources wisely. Sometimes this process of assessment and referral can become frustrating but again we want to do our best to provide appropriate care and follow effective processes.
We operate under a brief treatment model as this has been shown to be beneficial for the majority of university students. If longer-term or specialized care is needed, we work with students to find community resources. We offer the following counseling services:
- Individual therapy sessions (up to 12) but the average student only uses four or five sessions.
- Group therapy (unlimited) which is a very effective form of treatment and recommended based on needs of students.
- TAO-online treatment focused on skill building
- Crisis intervention for urgent needs (in-person walk-in appointments and after-hours counseling)
- Victim advocacy (on-call services)
- Non-therapy services that promote well-being (biofeedback, massage therapy, referrals for personal training)
We currently do not charge for any of our therapy services. We generally do not have more than a 10-day waiting period to get an initial appointment.
Exceptions can occur during peak periods (still no more than two to three weeks) or if students have limited scheduling options. Specialty services (psychiatry, nutrition) may have longer wait times because of less appointment availability.
We offer psychiatry with no co-pay, which is uncommon across college campuses. However, we do require that students are established clients with the center to obtain a referral to psychiatry (generally, that involves an initial assessment plus one or two sessions with your therapist).
We do this for several reasons:
- Because research demonstrates increased effectiveness when therapy and psychopharmacological treatment are combined.
- It allows us to make the most of a very limited resource.
- Allows the therapist to gain a better understanding of what their client may need
The Wellness Center prides itself for offering a comprehensive array of services (counseling, medical, health education, victim advocacy) for students, within the parameters of our resources and our professional guidelines.
I believe we have demonstrated our commitment to service by our recent International Association of Counseling Services accreditation. We are here for our campus and we look forward to expanding our capacity in the coming year. We always welcome feedback and questions.