The Counseling Center at SRU is working to stretch its resources and serve a larger population of the student body to accommodate for an increase in utilization.
This is according to director Dr. Lisa Osachy, who has served in that capacity for just over a year at Slippery Rock. Osachy said that the recent increase of patients requires an additional uptick in effort from her and her staff.
“We have approxiamtely 25-30 appointments a day,” Osachy said. “That equates to over 100 appointments a week. We currently have four full-time counselors at the moment, and six trainees on staff.”
Osachy said that there has also been an increase in patients demonstrating severe symptoms such as suicidal thoughts. This trend has led to a rise in crisis situations in which some students have required hospitalization.
The International Association of Counseling Services, the organization that SRU’s counseling center is accredited by, recommends that there be one counselor per 1,000-1,500 students at a university. With only four counselors on staff, Osachy acknowledges that SRU’s office is not able to reach an adequate amount of the student body.
Osachy said that she has made multiple requests over her first year as director for increased staff, but they have been turned down for budgetary reasons. Currently, the center does not have a full time secretary to take calls.
“It would be great if we had two more qualified people on staff,” Osachy said. “When we have more people, we can better utilize our budget and resources to do more outreach on and off of campus.”
The counseling center currently serves approximately five percent of the student population. Osachy hopes to see that number double as they work to make their services more well-known and far-reaching.
As of now, SRU students are permitted to attend six counseling sessions per semester. Students are allowed to attend as many group sessions as they want throughout the school year, something Osachy hopes to offer more of moving forward.
“We’re currently working on building up more group counseling sessions so students have more opportunities to voice their issues,” Osachy said. “These groups are typically case specific. I hope to have a group for things that students might be dealing with. This includes survivors of sexual abuse, those who want to better manage their daily stress or students who may be dealing with some form of grief in their lives.”
Osachy and her team have eliminated the waiting list at the counseling center, and work to see anyone who needs to talk within a week if them placing their request. Flexibility on the number of sessions a student can have is also important to her, as she feels it would be ethically wrong to turn away a student in need.
That flexibility has become difficult with the increased demand from the student body according to Osachy. More than anything, she hopes to see a staff increase to better serve the students at SRU.
“Our budget is okay, but for me staffing is more important,” Osachy said. “We don’t want to have students waiting too long for appointments. Additional staff helps us reach more students and facilitate a healthier campus environment.”
The Counseling Center is open from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m Monday through Friday, but is always open for emergencies, according to Osachy. Their office can be reached at (724) 738-2034 and is located in Rhoads Hall.