Counseling Center’s waitlist eliminated

Wheaton College is focused on the care and wellbeing of its students through the use of several programs, clubs and amenities. In particular, the Counseling Center is available to serve students who are uncertain, distressed or hurting emotionally. With students’ well-being in mind, the Counseling Center will be undergoing several changes.
One of these changes is the introduction of the “brief-therapy model,” meaning that as of this semester, the Counseling Center’s care is not long-term. According to associate dean of student care and services Allison Ash, the former model  presupposed that if students could get an appointment and be established as applicant, they could stay a long time and receive ongoing therapy. This was very helpful for students who wanted long term care, but it created a waitlist.
Ash said that at the root of the shift in model was a philosophical shift. Rather than viewing those who come and check in as clients, all of the student body is now seen as potential clients.
Students no longer self-report on an intake form when they first come in for care. Instead, they see a counselor who assesses their needs at a preliminary appointment. This is to ensure the Counseling Center is better able to address the needs of the students, to provide the care necessary and to help them find the appropriate resources to fulfill those needs.
Ash stated that this has both benefits and drawbacks. “It is a good thing that crises can be responded to, and students who have immediate needs won’t be put on a waitlist.  We are able to reach a lot more people,” she said of the brief therapy model.
However, students who want long-term care will no longer be able to find those resources on campus.
Another alteration is the recent addition of the first permanent director of the Counseling Center, Toussaint Whetstone. Whetstone received his degree in psychology from the Loyola University of Chicago and went on to attend Wheaton College for his master’s degree in psychology. He also worked as an on-staff counselor at Wheaton for a few years.
Whetstone worked as a pre-doctoral psychology intern at the University of Notre Dame and DePaul University. Both of these colleges currently utilize the brief therapy model, giving Whetstone experience with the new shift in the center.
“I feel like he’s the perfect person for the job,” Ash said in relation to Whetstone’s past experience with both Wheaton College and the brief therapy model. “The changes he’s making are not easy, but he has come in with the intention and skills to make changes that need to be made in the counseling center.”
With these changes, the Counseling Center is available to students as a short-term care facility only, providing about eight appointments spread over eight to 16 weeks. For students requiring long-term assistance, the Center is able to refer them to an off-campus resource and help them through the steps of setting up the first appointment at that other facility. These steps have been effective in eliminating the waitlist that prevented many students from receiving necessary care in times of crisis.

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