New counseling center director Tempest Anderson stands outside the center's new location in Suter House on the Eastern Mennonite University campus. Around her, from left, are Masters in Counseling students Amanda Styer, Bethany Chupp, Katie Curran and Rebecca Peifer., who are among the staff who will provide expanded services to the EMU community. (Photo by Macson McGuigan)

Counseling Center expands offerings in new location

Now located in Suter House at 1115 College Avenue — look for the blue door — and under the new direction of Tempest Anderson, the Eastern Mennonite University Counseling Center is expanding its free services to provide nearly 1,000 more hours of counseling time for students.

That support is needed, said Jim Smucker, vice president for student life. “Nationwide, 28 percent of students report higher than normal levels of stress, 19 percent report sleep difficulties, and 19 percent high levels of anxiety. We want the center to be a place that supports students in a variety of proactive ways so they can be successful here at EMU.”

A 2011 mental health survey at EMU, he said, indicated that 17 percent of the student body reported some level of depression or anxiety disorder, 14 percent reported some form of non-suicidal self-injury in the past year, and 43 percent reported body shape and weight among the most important things they think about.

The increased services mean that students in need or looking to receive some sort of support will receive prompt, skilled care. “If students need any support, whether it be for crisis or knowledge of resources, we want to make sure they have those immediately,” said Anderson. “If students need support for two or three sessions, the sooner they can get those sessions, the better. If students have ongoing struggles, it makes all the more sense that they get into counseling as soon as possible.”

The benefits are academic, as well. “Students who access counseling services return to school in subsequent terms — and graduate — at higher rates compared to the general student body,” said Smucker.

The increased services are the result of a new collaboration between the center and the master’s in counseling (MAC) program, a vision of previous center director Pam Comer, who retired in June. Anderson, a graduate of the MAC program who has worked in multiple university counseling settings, will now help to carry out the plan.

The partnership expands services to the student body — and provides MAC practicum and internship students with a placement that offers “the opportunity for consistent skill development as a training site in a university context,” said MAC director Teresa Haase. “We are excited to partner with Tempest and see this all come to fruition.”

Four second-year master’s in counseling students who have completed 30 hours of graduate counseling coursework and a 100-hour clinical practicum, and who have been approved for internship by MAC faculty, are each offering 240 direct service hours — and 360 hours of indirect clinical work — this academic year.

“This is high quality, supervised care,” said MAC instructor Michael Horst. Each week, each intern receives one hour of individual face-to-face clinical supervision and two hours of group supervision, and attends counseling center meetings. Their supervisors are Haase, Dr. Nate Koser and Dr. Annmarie Early.

In addition to one-on-one sessions, the counseling center offers:

  • Group counseling
  • Depression and anxiety screenings
  • Classroom presentations about topics such as suicide prevention or sexual assault awareness.
  • 30-minute one-on-one mentoring sessions for any student through the CoachLink program, which is geared toward helping undergraduate students adjust to life away from home.