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UWRF counselors ease stress

November 19, 2009

With the anxiety and stress of the holidays and finals approaching, UW-River Falls students can find relief here on campus from Counseling Services.

Student Health and Counseling Services encourage students to schedule an appointment with one of the four licensed counselors located in 211 Hagestad Hall.

“[Our counselors] see students for common issues that we all struggle with,” Alice Reilly-Myklebust, director of student health services, said. “There is always something that can be done to help [students].”

The personal counselors are available free of charge to all UWRF students and talk with them about everyday matters such as stress, anxiety, depression, relationships, alcohol/drugs, family concerns, sexual assault, major/career, self-esteem, body image, grades and grief.

“Student Counselors are here to offer a fresh and professional opinion on something that a student is feeling stuck on. Our role is to work with the student to help them get unstuck. Counseling is very empowering for students because the counselor makes it clear that we are there to support the student in whatever it is the student wants to address,” Mark Huttemier, personal counselor, said.

“[Students] don’t have to come in for big issues. They don’t have to feel like they’re stuck in a black hole,” Jennifer Herink, personal counselor, said.

The counselors are here for all students, no matter how big or small their issue.

“[Students] who simply want to feel better and happier should [speak with a counselor] to feel good,” Jennifer Elsesser, personal counselor, said. She said the benefits of talking with a counselor are the undivided attention a student receives, confidentiality and advice from an outsiders perspective that is unbiased.

“The relationship between the counselor and the student is a partnership. We’re not here to label, diagnose or analyze them,” Elsesser said.

Another benefit of talking with a counselor is the focus on the student.

“[Counselors] don’t talk back,” Herink said. “We don’t turn the story into our own, like some friends may tend to do.”

“The benefit of talking to a counselor over a friend or family member is simply that sometimes those other relations aren’t enough and you feel like what’s going on with you needs a fresh pair of eyes and the benefit that comes from the student counselors’ daily work dealing with student’s real concerns,” Huttemier said.

When students were asked what they do for their stress and anxiety around this hectic time of year, Erica Swanson, a sophomore majoring in history, said she turns to exercise or vents to her mom.

“I call my mom and complain to her,” Swanson said. “I wouldn’t be close-minded [about talking with a counselor] if I wanted the help.”

“I would definitely [speak with a counselor],” Ashley Taylor, a senior majoring in history, said. Like Swanson, she said she also tends to complain to her family and friends about any issues she has.

“The primary role of a counselor is to make connections that lead to insight…a way of looking or addressing an issue that the client comes to understand through the counseling process, is excited about, and feels like he/she wants to take ownership of that new way of thinking by putting it into action,” Huttemier said.

Counseling Services is open Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Appointments can be made by calling 425-3884 or by visiting 211 Hagestad Hall.

Counseling services always have at least one emergency walk-in appointment available for students who need immediate attention, Reilly-Myklebust said. She encourages students who are just starting to struggle to speak with a counselor. “The sooner the [student comes in], the better.”