New short-term counseling model promotes greater student access, says Counseling Services

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Counseling Services, now located in Lafene Health Center, recently shifted to a short-term model for individual sessions. (Dalton Wainscott I Collegian Media Group)

While some other universities tend to have a smaller load of clients that can do long-term therapy, the new short-term model for individual sessions allows them to see more students, said Kodee Walls, assistant director and training director at Counseling Services.

“What we were sort of running into was, without session limits, it doesn’t exactly provide a nice boundary or structure for the brief model that we’re able to offer at Counseling Services,” Walls said. “In order to meet the needs of as many students as possible, we had to make the decision that we would find alternatives to those people who did need longer term services and opted for a short-term model.”

She said the short-term model also helps Counseling Services see more students who just need reassurance and keep small issues from growing.

“‘Is this normal? Am I OK? Am I “crazy?”‘” Walls said, referencing concerns students have. “We can be that space to help reassure people in that way too. Doing the session limits and having the short-term model that we do, that actually gives those folks who just need some reassurance greater access to us.”

The model, implemented on Jan. 1, allows students up to eight free sessions per semester. Before, students could get four free sessions and pay for as many as they wanted beyond that. Walls said the average last semester, however, was four to six sessions.

If someone needs long-term care, Counseling Services will help a student get connected with another resource in the community early on, keeping in mind that cost can be a barrier to entry.

“Issues like trauma is one where we don’t want to necessarily rush or hope that we can solve all the problems in eight sessions a semester,” Walls said. “That’s not something that we can hope to accomplish or achieve in eight sessions.”

Counseling Services at Kansas State is the third counseling center where Walls has worked. She noted that other institutions — including her previous one — have moved to a short-term model of care.

“They just moved to a 12 sessions per year model, and I think that went pretty well,” Walls said. “To know that we’re able to offer more sessions than those places were, I feel really fortunate that even though we did implement that, it’s really helpful.”

While no model can satisfy everyone, and one alternative is fewer students having long-term care, Walls said they made the switch to see a higher number of people seeking their services.

“We want to be able the balance the number of people that we can serve with the number of people who are actually seeking our services,” Walls said.

The wait to get an appointment is about two weeks, she said.

“We’re still holding pretty closely to about a two-week mark, which for us is implying that we’re doing really well and seeing a larger volume of people than in the past,” Walls said.

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I'm Pete Loganbill and I'm the News Editor for the Collegian and host of the Collegian Kultivate podcast! I spent two years at Johnson County Community College, and I am now a senior in Public Relations at K-State. I believe constant communication leads to progress, no matter how difficult a comment may be for me or anyone to hear. Contact me at ploganbill@kstatecollegian.com.