Personal Counseling Provides Crucial Support

by Ana Wilhelm

With all the stress that comes with finals and the holiday season, it’s important to consider the state of your mental health. Thankfully, students at WCC can turn to student services and their team of counselors.

Both the Coordinator of Personal Counseling, Kristy Robinson, and Personal Counselor, Patrick Sheehan, gave information about the personal department and how it assists WCC students.

According to Robinson and Sheehan, personal counseling is a way to meet with students and provide them with a safe space on campus.

“Everybody’s walking a path. My job isn’t to show you the path or push you along the path, but to walk on that path with you and help you find ways to steer around obstacles,” said Sheehan.

“[Personal counseling works] to de-stigmatize mental health, to promote awareness, and to educate people on the importance of mental health,” Robinson said.

It’s different from a similar practice known as therapy. According to Robinson, personal counseling is “short-term and solution focused” while therapy delves into an individual’s deep-rooted problems from the past and how they infiltrate their current situations.

“Therapy is a journey,” said Sheehan.

Many can attest to the positive benefit of personal counseling, but there’s no ignoring the fact that it’s a demanding job for those who choose it. For empathetic individuals, meaning someone who can understand and share the emotions of another person, it can be heart wrenching to absorb countless tragic situations, but even more so when boundaries have to be made. These emotional boundaries are not meant to discourage students, but to protect the individual (personal counselor) offering their support.

Despite it not being highlighted enough, the presence alone of personal counseling can impact a campus mentality.

“It promotes wellness,” Sheehan said. “Wellness isn’t just going to the gym or hanging out with friends, it’s making sure that you understand the struggles in your life and how you can deal with those things and start to feel better. That’s huge.”

Sheehan recalled not knowing where his personal counseling department was located in his undergraduate school until his RA told him, and admitted that he probably could’ve benefited from it.

“A major part of adulthood is being able to understand your needs, your struggles, and understand how to take care of yourself,” Sheehan said.

Especially with an influx of students coming directly from high school, which is a different experience from college, personal counseling is not only a place to vent, but a place to learn how to understand, communicate, and manage your emotions. These are some of the major steps towards emotional maturity.

And we can only go up from there. Even if one does not deal with a mental illness or serious trauma, personal counseling has proven to benefit the majority of college students with the immense academic, social, and personal stress they undergo. Hence, why it should be extended and encouraged to all students. Robinson’s response to the future of personal counseling says it all.

“Growth. Growth, growth, growth. There needs to be more services, not less services,” Robinson said. “I think mental health and how we value student wellness needs to be incorporated into every little faucet of higher education.”

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