CSUN counseling center gets new director, programs

Daily Sundial

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Mark Stevens, the new Counseling Services director at CSUN, said he wants students to know one thing about the counseling center:

“You don’t have to be broken to come into the counseling center. We offer a variety of different services for students so they can get the most out of their time and education (at CSUN).”

The counseling center offers individual and group therapy. It also offers several peer programs in which students can not only seek counseling, but can also be trained to become an educator.

“It’s really important for students to know that our services are free and completely confidential,” said Stevens, who is also a counselor at the center.

“The most common reason students want to talk is because of their relationships, anything from parental relationships to relationships with their significant others,” he said, adding that depression, anxiety, values and the questioning of identities are other reasons students sometimes seek counseling.

Before coming to CSUN, Stevens worked at USC for 19 years. He also spent time at Ohio State University and San Diego State University.

Stevens said there are programs at the counseling center that he would like to see students take advantage of.

These programs, ran by trained CSUN students, are Advocates of Cultural Talk, which deals with diversity issues, Joint Advocates on Disordered Eating, Discovering Alternatives to Today’s Encounters, an acquaintance rape prevention program, and BLUES, the center’s depression program.

“Sometimes students hold issues in,” Stevens said. “If they can talk with students who have the same issues, they are more comfortable and talk more openly.”

Yolanda Noack, a counselor and program leader, said she hopes students know when to seek counseling.

“We want students to come sooner than later,” Noack said. “The ideal time for a student to contact us is when he or she begins to realize (his or her own) feelings and concerns.”

When a student calls to make an appointment, no explanation is needed as to why they are calling in the first place.

An appointment is made a week in advance, but the counseling center does have emergency appointments available. The first appointment is usually an evaluation, and follow-up appointments are then made.

“We deal with as much as we can here, on a short-term basis,” Noack said, “but if we feel the student will need long-term counseling, we will refer them to someone else. Usually our students will come for two or three sessions, on average.”

Victoria Wilson, a junior, said she would jump at the chance for counseling if she needed it.

“Sure, I would go,” she said. “I’m not exactly sure where it is, but I would just walk in and make an appointment if I didn’t know the number.”

The counseling center is on the fifth floor of Bayramian Hall, formerly the Student Services Building.

“There are very few times in your life where people focus on you 100 percent,” Noack said. “Friends are great, but they have things going on in the back of their mind, too. This is a chance for students to come and really be heard.”

Jason Tanner can be reached at jmt35634@csun.edu.