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The Helping Center is Officially Open

By Elizabeth Barden; News Editor
On March 7, 2016

The Helping Center is Officially Open

Elizabeth Barden
News Editor
eab1010@plymouth.edu

On Tuesday, March 2, The Helping Center officially launched its services for the PSU campus community.

The Helping Center provides students with a space to talk about personal or relational issues with graduate clinical mental health students completing their clinical hours. These services include self-exploration, career exploration, wellness, conflict resolution (roommate, teammate and relationship challenges), assessment, supervision training, mentoring and assimilation and acculturation.

“We help people in a variety of ways but also students coming in to work with our students also help us in a big way,” said Dr. Stephen Flynn, director of the Helping Center. “It’s truly a students helping students experience.”

The center encourages students to visit if they are looking to learn a little more about themselves, struggling to decide on a major, having roommate issues, trouble adjusting to the college environment, the grief that comes with leaving college or even trouble adjusting to the concept of life after college.

“These are all issues of which our students have just undergone a rigorous training,” said Dr. Flynn.

“Also with international students, assimilation and acculturation to the area is huge. Our [graduate] students get it in every class…they get inundated with cultural competencies and they have specific courses that just talk about that.”

The graduate students working in the helping center are at the end of their 63-credit master of science in clinical mental health counseling. This is their capstone experience working in the center helping other students. The clinical 100 hours are supervised by clinical health professionals.

“We send our students out to the field and to mental health agencies and to hospitals and to a variety of places for their practicum right now,” said Dr. Flynn.

“We have a range of experiences they have with supervisors to really effective supervisors to people that are pretty hands off. So this is a way to share at least the 100 hour experience where they are thoroughly mentored by faculty.”

The Helping Center provides an opportunity to both the campus community but also to those graduate students in the graduate counseling program to acquire their clinical hours in a way that serves other students. They are able to practice their skills and use their education in a setting that exercises the use of productive feedback and on-call assistance that is answered within seconds before, during and after the session.

Sarah Escobar, graduate student in the clinical mental health counseling program and graduate assistant at the Helping Center, explained how she got involved. “I applied to grad school and I decided I wanted to be a graduate assistant so I filled out the application.”

An inside look at the supervisory hub in the Helping Center

CLOCK PHOTO/ALEX CROSSLEY

“Dr. Flynn happens to be one of my advisors so I was talking to him one day about wanting to get a job, about my previous experiences and he said we have this wonderful opportunity coming up, The Helping Center,” explained Escobar.

“I loved the motto of students helping students and I was like I want to get involved, it sounds like a wonderful thing.”

The brand new center opened earlier this school year for training sessions and mentoring. The planning process for this center began in 2012 and started with Dr. Flynn’s proposal for the center to Tim Keef, now former Dean of Students.

Dr. Flynn, having come from the University of South Dakota who had a training center similar to this one, proposed the idea and shortly after it was promoted to Provost and Jim Hundrieser and that’s when the real planning began.

Due to the amount of technology involved in the room architecture, IT services were heavily involved in the design of the space. There is a supervisory hub, in which all of the sessions are monitored and professional clinical counselors are able to step in or give a guiding hand during the session.

Beginning this month, The Helping Center will have 12 counselors in training.

The Helping Center is not, however, a service for acute issues just yet.

“If you have a very serious mental health issue, like you feel like you’re so depressed you can’t get out of bed, you’re so anxious you don’t want to go to class, things like that, or your contemplating suicide, things that are serious, we’d want you to counseling center,” said Dr. Flynn.

With the amount of space, having six rooms, the center has lots of open slots for sessions. Hours are Mon-Fri 10am-3pm. These hours subject to change depending on student need.

To contact the Helping Center, drop by their offices on the third floor of Samuel Reed Hall. You can also email the center at psu-helpingcenter@plymouth.edu, call at (603) 535-2555, or visit the website: https://www.plymouth.edu/helping-center/

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