University counseling aims to reduce wait time

Photo shows woman in an elevator on level five
Mao believes that it is important to take advantage of CSUN's University Counseling Services located on the fifth floor of Bayramian Hall. File Photo/ The Sundial

The University Counseling Services (UCS) is working toward minimizing the wait list for students seeking counseling.

Julie Pearce, acting director and coordinator of training for the UCS said every student gets up to eight free individual counseling sessions. However, with more than 40,000 students at CSUN, having them actually use all eight sessions creates a longer wait list for those who want to utilize the services.

After meeting with a counselor, students are referred to one of the workshop and therapy groups the UCS has. According to Pearce, it may take less than eight sessions for a counselor to refer a student.

“Our intention is to meet students needs based on feedback we get from students,” Pearce said. “We thought, ‘How can we make shifts so that our services are accessible?’”

Amy Rosenblatt, a counselor for UCS, mentioned that ever since they started this, the wait list for students has gotten shorter.

“We wanted to problem solve because there were many students waiting to get in for services. That was going up until about a year and a half ago,” Rosenblatt said. “We did not want students to be on a wait list.”

Rosenblatt said the change isn’t drastic because the UCS always referred students to a workshop or therapy group.

The Recognition/Insight/Openness (RIO) program is one of the many helpful groups students are referred to and is available Monday to Friday at different times.

Once students attend their first counseling intake session, students will be directed to the RIO workshop. Sometimes students will meet with their counselor for a few more sessions before being referred to a therapy group, Rosenblatt said.

“It is handled on a case to case basis. Every counselor on the staff uses their own clinical judgment about what is in a students best interest,” Rosenblatt said.

According to Rosenblatt, students did not focus on how they were doing and the progress they made before this change.

“About two years ago and further back than that, we used to have this policy that was known on campus that students got eight sessions,” Rosenblatt said. “We don’t use that language anymore because students have become much more focused on getting those eight sessions.”

Students are still encouraged to see their individual counselors after they are done doing a workshop if they feel they need more support, said Rosenblatt.

Although the wait list has shortened since RIO started about a year and a half ago, it does still exist but there is also a more urgent service available for emergencies.

“Even though there is a wait list, anytime a student is in crisis they have an opportunity to be seen immediately,” Rosenblatt said.

In addition, students can call Urgent Care Assistance and can be seen for a session that is about 20 minutes long.

Along with RIO, the UCS has groups and workshops which focus on certain aspects such as anxiety management, test anxiety strategies, depression management and more which are available at various times on weekdays. The UCS also helps students without insurance to find extra help that is affordable.

Urgent Care Assistance is available Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. After hours are available if students wish to speak to a crisis counselor.