Counseling Center expands to include eight counselors

Taking on a new semester can be hard, especially during a pandemic. That’s why Virginia Wesleyan University’s counseling services have been working hard to ensure that the entire campus community feels safe and comfortable.

Since the beginning of the spring semester, VWU’s Counseling Center has expanded its team to a total of eight counselors, six of whom are interns in master’s-level programs at various schools including Old Dominion University, Regent University and Virginia Commonwealth University.

The team consists of Director of Counseling Services Bill Brown, Director of Student Health April Christman, Village Coordinator and intern Brandon Foster and intern counselors Madison Smart-McCarthy, Teddi Coleman, Samantha Bean, Karen Carroll and Maggie Davis.

With this new team of interns, the Counseling Center has been able to put on more events and better handle the student demand for counseling services.

“The Counseling Center always struggled with putting on programs because we didn’t have the staff to do it in the past,” Brown said. “We can now put on lots of programming on a regular basis that has various wellness and mental health-type focuses.”

Some of the events the Counseling Center has been able to host with the help of the intern counselors and other student organizations include the “Talk and Paint,” focusing on the effects of racism, the “Positivity Rocks” gratitude activity, the “Donut Stress, Cupcake” stress-relieving event and the “Awareness Walk and Memory Chalk” Suicide Prevention Day event.

“Take advantage of the programs that we offer through the FunZone,” Christman said. “We have all sorts of different events for different pillars of wellness. I would encourage students to join these events because they’re intentional.”

Along with taking part and attending these events, the Counseling Center also encourages students to take advantage of the counseling services offered.

Along with the other intern counselors, Coleman, a VCU master’s-level program student, has high aspirations for her time here at VWU. Coleman was hired by the Counseling Center during the fall semester and will be graduating this spring, so she, unfortunately, will not return following this semester.

“My hope for the community is to continue to let students know that the counseling office is a safe environment,” Coleman said. “I remember the counseling office was there for me when I was having a hard time adjusting to college life and how much it helped me become the person I am today.”

The Counseling Center encourages the campus community to check out their new “Zen Zone.”

VWU’s Counseling Services are available for all community members, whether that be for a one-time check-in or ongoing counseling. The counselors are here to make everyone’s experience at VWU the best it can be.

A master’s-level student in Liberty University’s clinical mental health counseling program, Davis is currently taking on her first semester of counseling here at VWU. She is excited for what this semester will bring and intends to be here in the future.

“Education is a life-changing experience,” Davis said. “It is so beneficial during this time to have an advocate on your side willing to listen and understand. I hope to be that for as many people as I can during my time here.”

All of the counselors here at VWU aspire to make our campus a home for the campus community, which is why such a large team of counselors is available.

Bean, another intern in her first semester, will also be here in the fall. She wants all students to feel comfortable in the Counseling Center.

“Sometimes, it takes a few doctors before you find one that is perfect for you and your needs, and finding a counselor is very much the same,” Bean said. “Do not be discouraged if it is not a perfect match the first time around, that does not mean counseling is not for you, it simply means that counselor is not for you and your needs.”

All counseling services here at VWU are free of charge for all students and have no time limit. The Counseling Center is open to anyone who needs a pair of listening ears, a shoulder to cry on or a place to stop by and hang out. After all, “the hardest part is starting, but once you walk through the counseling door, it can only get easier,” Bean said.

Carey Seay