Counseling Services, Lafene to merge, form Counseling and Psychological Services

(Archive photo by Alex Todd | Collegian Media Group)

Kansas State’s Counseling Services may merge with Lafene Health Center in the next few months, becoming a department of Lafene known as Counseling and Psychological Services.

Jim Parker, director of Lafene and Counseling Services, took charge of this project. He believes in an integrated system where physical and mental health are cared for in the same department.

“We want to make sure that the pathway between Lafene and counseling is as short and seamless as possible,” Parker said. “In order for us to do that, we really do need to be under the same umbrella and have the same leadership and same expectations.”

Parker said one of the goals of the merge is minimizing barriers so people get the help they need when they need it.

Serving as K-State students’ cost-effective, health and well-being facility, Lafene offers a range of services to benefit Kansas State students, including:

  • Acute illness or injury treatment
  • Allergy injections
  • Laboratory testing
  • Nutrition counseling
  • Rehab and physical therapy
  • Travel immunization consultations
  • Wellness exams
  • X-rays

However, it does not provide psychotherapy services. Over 25 percent of encounters with students in Lafene — not Counseling — end up with some mental health-related need, Parker said.

Counseling Services is the primary mental health resource on the K-State campus and provides therapy and consultation for students.

“If you have an integrated system, the number of times the person has to come back for subsequent treatment is decreased,” Parker said. “That’s one of the indicators that it’s a more successful encounter. The majority of healthcare systems that can do that — not private practice, but like hospitals and university healthcare — they’re integrated now. … That’s the model we’re going after.”

Parker said it’s challenging to provide a date of completion because of the COVID-19 response from Lafene and Counseling Services.

“We have been working on this concept over the past year and have made significant progress,” Parker said. “That said, it’s my hope to complete the non-financial elements of our integration process this spring.”

In late February, both Lafene and Counseling Services’ privilege fee budgets were reviewed by the Privilege Fee Committee. Parker asked for a continuance for both entities.

“We would like to work through the rest of this fiscal year and then we’ll go hopefully in the fall or early spring next year in front of privilege [fee] committee, make another presentation for them and we’ll have a little bit better handle on where we’re going to be financially at that point,” Parker said.

Ashley Grills, committee member and sophomore in business administration, said it is important to revisit the budgets in the next fiscal year when, hopefully, the heat of the pandemic is in the past.

Ryan Donnelly, junior in fisheries, wildlife and conservation biology, has seen the inside of Lafene a few times.

“Since the beginning of the fall semester, I have been [to Lafene] probably like eight times,” Donnelly said. “I’ve been there for physical therapy appointments and two X-rays.”

Parker said students should always expect exceptional care.

“We’re hopeful that our ability to have integrated teams, for instance, Dr. Kodee Walls is going to be sitting on our executive committee at Lafene,” Parker said. “So any issues that could arise or problems that happen, we’re going to solve those right away.”

“We’re going to be doing orientation for every new employee that comes in,” Parker said, “Whether Counseling or Lafene, they’re going to go through the same orientation. They may have enhanced things in their counseling, so they’ll understand what services we offer here where they may not have before.”

Dr. Kyle Goerl, medical director of Lafene Health Center, said the merge has been “Jim’s baby” for a while, and this is an exciting time.

“Anytime we can kind of combine efforts, it’s going to be to the benefit of the patient.”

Students can schedule appointments online through the myLafene portal.

My name is Sean Schaper, and I'm the news editor for the Collegian. I’m a junior in journalism with a secondary focus in film studies. I grew up right outside of Kansas City in Leawood, Kansas. As a first-generation K-Stater, I look forward to leaving behind accurate coverage for the current and future Wildcat community.