Counseling center offers additional services


The new nontraditional therapy services offered by the counseling center aim to offer additional assistance to students and reduce the amount of people on the counseling waitlist. Photo illustration by Catherine Owen

After a bolstering of Chapman’s Student Psychological Counseling Services following a 90-person waitlist in fall 2017, the center is offering new services, including a 24-hour hotline and an app called “Therapy Assistant Online,” both of which are to help students outside of the traditional face-to-face counseling sessions. The center is also in the process of hiring a case manager.

Many students on the waitlist last fall never received treatment, said Jeanne Walker, director of Student Psychological Counseling Services.

“It was very frustrating for students and (the staff) because we know it is a risk to (keep students on the waitlist),” Walker said. “We were overwhelmed and not happy with the result.”

The changes came after Mitchell Rosenberg, student government president, proposed improvements to Chapman’s campus mental health services. Therapy Assistant Online was one of those improvements.

Through the app, Chapman counselors can suggest therapeutic activities like psychological exercises or assignments for a student to complete throughout the week. A Chapman counselor will monitor students’ progress on the app, until the next in-person counseling session.

Walker said the app aims to reduce students’ dependence on face-to-face counseling, which would help cut down on the amount of students on the waitlist.
“The philosophy changed from ‘We want to be able to help everybody for everything,’ to ‘We want to be able to bring in the students and identify what they need,’ Walker said. ”We can get them where they need to be and help them find other resources and work with them in a different way.”

The case manager is the first person a student seeking help would interact with. They would help direct the student to counseling, academic advising or another university department.

An additional staff member for Residence Life and First Year Experience will also be hired to help freshmen, who Walker said tend to be the ones in need of more help during their transition into college.

The interviews for the case manager position were recently completed, wrote Dean of Students Jerry Price in an email to The Panther. The position is expected to be filled in the next few weeks. Chapman is still in the process of hiring an off-campus residence hall staff member, Rosenberg said.

“I am very confident moving forward to really help students get the help they need and make sure they can finish in four or five years here in a way that is successful and healthy for them,” Rosenberg said.

The 24-hour hotline is available for student, faculty and even parental use.

The counseling center works with students on a limited number of sessions to meet students’ demand and prevent the waitlist from building up. Even with the additional services being offered this year, some students prefer traditional face-to-face counseling.

“I think the crisis hotline is a really great addition, but as to the app, I feel like it defeats the purpose of counseling and therapy, which is about having a personal connection away from the noise of everyday life,” said Giovanna Zavala, a junior screenwriting major who was stuck on the counseling center waitlist last year. “(The app) feels kind of like a gimmick more than a real solution to lack of funds and resources.”