By Stephanie Griffin
Do you need somewhere safe to go when you need to talk? Well, you’re in luck. Fitchburg State University offers services that are free of charge to students in the Counseling Services office.
“Counseling Services is helpful. It made me feel like I had a place to go and talk and somewhere to feel safe.” Jenny O’ Kane, a student at Fitchburg State University, said.
The services are completely confidential. The counselors don’t share information talked about in the session with anyone, unless under certain conditions. The only time a counselor will release any information talked about in the session is if you have given written consent, the client is a danger to themselves or to others, if they have any knowledge of abuse or neglect of children/elderly person/disabled person, and if a court of law or judge requires a counselor to produce the information (which is very rare). The records that counselors keep never become part of the student’s transcript or university record. All records are locked in the Counseling Services offices.
The Counseling Services’ staff consists of the director, associate director, assistant director, office manager and graduate level trainees. Each counselor varies on their specialties, but the counselors have the appropriate training and state licensure. The graduate students that are the trainees are supervised by one of the full-time staff members.
Richard Hayes, the director of these services and the assistant dean for Student Support Services, has been at Fitchburg State University for fourteen years but has more experience at other colleges. He worked five years at a small college in South Carolina and several years at a University in New York before coming to Fitchburg State. He got into counseling services by doing an internship in New York at a college counseling center and he found that he liked it and decided on making a career of it.
When asked if he liked working at Fitchburg state, Hayes responded, “Absolutely. No doubt. Great place to make a career. Great students… great colleagues.”
You don’t have to be troubled with a major mental illness or in a crisis to make an appointment with a counselor. Students that meet with counselors are struggling with the stress of daily living and have difficulties coping. Counseling Services take on a health promotion, which means that a student doesn’t have to be in critical condition to request help. As a result of the service you can improve problem-solving abilities and develop flexible coping strategies. You can talk about anything that is important to you when meeting with a counselor. No problem is looked at as too big or too small. If you think someone you know could benefit from meeting with a counselor, you can speak with a counselor and they can assist you if there is a problem and how to handle it from there while providing you with the support you may need.
“I think going to Counseling Services was one of the best decisions I made. I’ve been going since last year due to being diagnosed with high anxiety last summer and I feel so much better about everything.” Another student, who wished to be anonymous said, “Their mission is to help students feel more comfortable and have a place they can go to where they feel safe and they definitely do. I would 100% recommend Counseling Services to anyone who needs to talk to someone.”
If you or someone you know needs help and would like to talk to someone without being judged, call the Counseling Services at (978) 665-3152. You may also go to their office, which is located on the 3rd floor of the Hammond Building in room 317 from 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Monday through Friday. Students also have the opportunity of the “Walk-In” hour without making an appointment from 2 to 3 p.m. On the Counseling Services website there is also websites and hotlines that you or someone could use if in an emergency.