Counseling Center expands to meet student-demand

Zackary Willem

The Counseling Center now has five full-time counselors to assist university students.

“At the peak several years ago we had a ratio of one counselor to every 3,800 students. However, with the new positions we have one counselor to every 1,800 students,” said Thomas Longwell, Counseling Center director.

To fill the staff expansion, Longwell created two new positions, as well as brought in a replacement and a promoted part-time counselor from the previous three.

Longwell said in past years the center has faced multiple oppositions due to its low number of staff. The forefront being its inability to assist students without them waiting two to three weeks for assistance.

“The more manageable ratio also helps the center meet certain requirements to help it become accredited,” Longwell said.

The center needs to meet a set of requirements that prove they deliver good services to the university’s students through counseling and outreach programs.

In fall 2014, the center directed, sponsored and co-sponsored 73 outreach activities such as stress management workshops and healthy relationship management workshops. They also collaborated with the Multicultural Center.

Longwell said the new positions will help the Counseling Center reach accreditation.

“Now that we are much closer to that goal, it’s something we will look at again,” he said.

The expansion of the counseling center is funded by a student fee implemented a few years ago.

“For the cost of a pizza you know somebody is there when you’re at your worst. For $20 I would do it,” Longwell said. “When a student utilizes the resource that is the counseling center they benefit from it both emotionally and academically.”

When a student is in emotional distress they don’t truly benefit from the university’s resources and what it has to offer, he said.

“Our idea is our students are very important and when a student is struggling it impacts every aspect of their life both socially and academically,” Longwell said.

New hire Dr. Ashley Evearitt, a staff psychologist, specializes in individual therapy and assists with minor concerns like homesickness and roommate conflicts.

She also treats more major concerns through therapy sessions.

“Some schools have a cap where you can only see students for about ten sessions, but here we see the student until the problem is resolved,” Evearitt said.

Evearitt completed her graduate work at Spalding University where she studied staff psychology and student affairs.

“I love it. So far, everybody has been so friendly and welcoming and that’s the thing I think that has been most surprising,” Evearitt said. “People have been here right away to help and I’m excited.”

Evearitt completed her undergraduate at the University of Findlay where she was a resident director.

She also completed her four year dual degree in psychology and sociology then entered into a six year doctoral program.

“I really like this period of development between ages 18 to 22 because you become more aware of whom you are as a person and your values, individuating from your family,” Evearitt said. “This was when I first realized I loved working with college students.”

Longwell said the expansion will improve the center’s ability to work with students in a crisis state and support student outreach activities.

“You will never know when you will need us,” he said. “Life can be hard, it can throw you a turn when you least expect it, but the center is here to help you with any situation.”