Seminar encourages students to live well

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Counselors Melissa Sutherland and James Brandenburg give a speech about physical and mental wellness and the services the counselors provide to help students maintain good health Wednesday in the Fiesta Room.  Monica Correa

Counselors Melissa Sutherland and James Brandenburg give a speech about physical and mental wellness and the services the counselors provide to help students maintain good health Wednesday in the Fiesta Room.
Monica Correa

Free counseling for a wide variety of needs available.

By Paula Christine Schuler

sac-ranger@alamo.edu

Veterans returning from combat, parents raising autistic kids, people dealing with postpartum depression, loss of a loved one, teenage suicide and trauma from natural disaster are only a small part of a long list of difficult situations people handle daily.

Four counselors spoke Feb. 5 in the Fiesta Room of Loftin Student Center to encourage wellness.

The counseling and advising services office department offers wellness and mental health counseling free of charge for all students at this college. No appointment is needed.

Staff includes counselors with Ph.D.s and master’s level qualifications, Counselor Melissa Sutherland said. “Cost for a session would be $100 elsewhere. We can give six sessions free.”

Simple math shows this is a $600 savings compared to seeing a counselor in San Antonio charging market rate.

This is the only campus in the Alamo Colleges system that offers a personal counseling program, Sutherland said.

Additionally, group therapies offered include using poetry to heal, veterans returning from war, life coaching, career groups and another group that helps people keep their past from invading their present.

Counselor Margaret Bloomer said there are several groups forming around a variety of wellness and coaching needs, and she encouraged participation.

The counselors encouraged students to be aware of ways to promote their own wellness using different opportunities at this college.

Sutherland spoke about wellness in general, inviting and receiving active feedback from students.

Factors affecting wellness that speakers and audience members identified included sleep, diet, exercise, spirituality, relationships, stress management, time management, balance, drug use, alcohol, adjustment challenges, indecision, knowledge about support services and social support.

Resources at this college’s counseling office include personal counseling, counseling groups, academic counseling, advising and faculty advising, career counseling, Loftin Student Center workout room, Loftin Student Center events, student groups, intramural sports, theater and musical events, art and photographic exhibits.

Speakers were Sutherland, counseling services coordinator; James Brandenburg, personal counselor and certified poetry therapist; Counselor Margaret Bloomer; and Steve Samet, professor and counselor.

They encouraged students to give up gym membership fees and use college events as a way to have a night out for less money.

Samet said college is a way for people to try a wealth of different things by taking advantage of all there is to do and see in the clubs, classes and events. He encouraged students to explore this college, including the award-winning newspaper, the radio station, different departments on campus, visit events and get exposed to different things and people.

Brandenburg began his part of the seminar with a poem titled “Ambiguity.”

His reading was followed with an invitation to the audience to respond to various lines of the poem that caught their attention.

Several students responded with specific comments about the poem and why it caught their attention.

Brandenburg led a conversation about some of the struggles and victories students face.

He said this is how poetry therapy sessions feel and encouraged students to sign up.

Several students raised their hands when asked how many felt as if they were dangling over the edge as described in the poem.

Brandenburg said, “I think if people were really honest, just about everybody in here would raise their hands.”

Brandenburg also offers poetry therapy in a group open to the public at 6 p.m. the first and third Thursdays monthly at Barnes and Nobles, 6065 N.W. Loop 410.

For more information, email him at jbrandenburg2@alamo.edu.

The counseling center is located on the first floor of Moody Learning Center.

Office hours are from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday with a 7 p.m. closing Tuesday. The first Saturday of every month, it is open 9 a.m.-1 p.m.

For more information, call 210-486-0333.

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