Counseling Services is an integral part of our AU community. College life presents a whole host of different challenges to students, and oftentimes help is needed in working through these. Counseling Services exists to provide students with a strong support system and a safe place to work through whatever they may be facing.
Counseling Services is located in the Morrison House in front of Myers Hall. Student requests for counseling sessions can be made over the phone, through email or in person at Morrison House, and are honored as quickly as possible. Counseling Services staff works hard to coordinate their schedules with student schedules in order to accommodate each student in need.
Christal Helvering works as the director of Counseling Services. She explains that “our counseling staff strives to establish a genuine, positive relationship with each student, in which they feel safe and supported. With each student, our goal is to be a compassionate presence that offers acceptance and a confidential space for students to express their concerns.”
This is accomplished through, typically, weekly or biweekly sessions with a counselor. Counseling Services staffs two full-time counselors, one part-time counselor, three PhD interns and one MA intern. They all maintain busy schedules, as Counseling Services serves about 300 students each school year.
“We consider it a privilege to be invited into a student’s story and to journey with them through a wide variety of challenges towards greater growth and holistic health,” says Helvering. “We are grateful to often see student’s lives change for the positive as they experience significant personal growth, healing of emotional wounds, restored relationships, spiritual growth, greater self-confidence, freedom from shame and various addictions and renewed confidence in their ability to effectively manage life while dealing with mental health issues such as depression, anxiety, OCD and PTSD.”
Each year, students share that their experiences with counseling services are quite literally life-saving. The best results come when students are willing to fully invest in the work required to bring about healthy change in their lives.
Junior Briana Schraub started utilizing Counseling Services early this school year. She was encouraged by her best friend and roommate to reach out. She describes being hesitant to open up when she first started attending her weekly sessions, but since then has become comfortable with talking to her counselor about “anything and everything.”
“Counseling has been the one place that I feel most comfortable talking about everything I’ve been through,” explains Schraub. “I did not want to share my life story and become vulnerable with a stranger, but over time I have seen change in my life, especially this semester.”
Schraub credits Counseling Services with teaching her how to cope with her anxiety, how to take control of her emotions and handle difficult situations, how to talk about her past and accept it for what it is and how it has shaped her into who she is today
and how to deal with her depression.
“Counseling has given me the ability to work through everything in my life and has helped to give me a true sense of who I am in this world,” says Schraub.
Many students are hesitant to reach out to Counseling Services because of the negative connotation sometimes attached to counseling or therapy. Schraub was once part of that group. “I was completely against anyone who tried to convince me to go to counseling. I didn’t want anyone picking apart my life and judging me,” she explains.
However, the day she finally signed up for counseling changed her life. It was the day she was diagnosed with clinical depression, as well as the day she would start taking steps to deal with the battles she faces in life in a positive, healthy manner.
“For a good number of students, making the initial connection with us in Counseling Services is the hardest step of the process,” says Helvering. However, once they have reached out, “students often report the relief they feel after experiencing the warmth and welcome of Morrison House.”
Helvering encourages anyone who is hesitant to ask a friend, RA or DC to walk over to Morrison House with them or to email her directly and let her know they are interested.
“You don’t need to suffer alone,” says Helvering. “Regardless of how big or small your concerns are, we truly are a safe place and are here to provide you with support and encouragement.”
“All of my life I have been trying to figure out who I am and discover my self-worth,” Schraub says. “Through counseling, I can say that I am the closest I will ever be to figuring out who I am and having a sense of honest self-worth.”