Counseling Center offers new programming

Published by adviser, Author: Chris Gordon - Assistant News Editor, Date: October 15, 2015
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Slippery Rock University’s Student Counseling Center now offers group counseling and counseling specific to LGBTQIA+ concerns.
Group counseling, which was first offered last spring, allows students to interact with others facing similar difficulties, Joseph VanHannak, an SRU counselor, said.
“When peers talk to peers, there’s a power there that can be transformative,” he said.  “I can be a good counselor, but at the same time, I’m 40 and there’s a different language that students speak.”
Counseling groups typically consist of 10 to 12 members at maximum and discuss issues ranging from anxiety, to depression and freshman homesickness, VanHannak said.
Though there are some situations that are better handled on a one-on-one basis, most literature indicates that group counseling has similar outcomes as individual counseling, he said.
LGBTQIA+ counseling, which is new this semester, is not only designed to assist students dealing with issues of sexual identity, but is also available to any student seeking help in dealing with a related concern, VanHannak said.
“Some students may have a friend or family member that is adjusting to a new identity and they may seek counseling as a result of that,” he said.
Balancing religious beliefs with sexual identity is another facet of LGBTQIA+ counseling, VanHannak said, as well as helping students become allies to their peers.
“This program is designed to allow students to dip their toes in the water,” he said.  “You can show up once and never come back or you can stay and make something of the group.”
The Student Counseling Center worked in conjunction with RockOUT, SRU’s LGBTQIA+ student organization, to create the LGBTQIA+ counseling program, with the goal of offering something that wasn’t already available on campus, VanHannak said.
“This is a confidential space,” he added.  “We never confirm nor deny that anyone is receiving our services.”
Other services traditionally offered by the Student Counseling Center include individual and couples counseling, coping assistance, emergency appointments for crisis situations and referrals for high-level concerns, VanHannak said.
“We’re interested in what students want from us,” he said.  “These new programs are a response to that.”
Students seeking counseling services can find the Student Counseling Center in 118 Rhoads Hall and fill out an appointment request form.

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