Personal counseling helps keep students in school

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Counselors have merged with the advocacy center on the third floor of Chance.

Alan Torres

Personal counseling available for students at this college is “solution-focused,” Counselor David Rodriguez said Dec. 8.

Counseling is based on the student’s needs, Rodriguez said in an interview.

“It is not set up for in-depth, long therapy,” he said. “It is solution-focused, on having an issue now and how can we solve that.”

Rodriguez is one of two full-time counselors at this college. One counselor is part-time, and some interns also are available, he said.

Personal counselors are located on the third floor of Chance Academic Center.

On Dec. 1, the program moved out of the first floor of Moody Learning Center and moved into Chance.

The counseling program moved into Chance and merged with the advocacy center, said Lisa Black, professor of social work who also helps coordinate counselors.  

“The counseling and advocacy center merged missions,” she said during a phone interview Dec. 15. “We are now able to share resources and give students a better place to be at.”

The counseling program focuses on academic-related issues and retention, Rodriguez said.

“You are our student and we want to keep you here and have you succeed,”  he said.

If students have trouble with classes, there is tutoring available. If students have trouble with schedules, then students can go see an academic adviser, he said.

What if students are having emotional issues?

In case of a tough event happening in a student’s life, the first thing to go is usually school, Rodriguez said.

“We are here to help with those issues, with the personal and emotional things. They’re important for keeping a student here,” he said.

One of the main reasons students seek counseling is stress.

“Opening up and talking about it helps you identify what the stress is,” he said.

The way Rodriguez approaches the issue with students is with the definition.

“Stress or anxiety is your body’s reaction to a perceived threat,” he said. “When you are feeling anxious, you are feeling threatened by something. That is when the talking about it can help identify what the threat is.”

Once the threat is identified, the next step is figuring out what to do with it, Rodriguez said.

Then students learn steps to eliminate the threat, such as thinking about it differently or learning some new coping mechanisms, he said.

“It is easier to put out a fire when it first gets started than when you let it rage,” he said. “That is part of what we do and teach the student to recognize their body’s signals.”

Everyone has different symptoms when it comes to stress, Rodriguez said.

“If you are feeling the pressure is a bit much, it is worth it to just come in and talk about it.”

Students might be afraid of sharing sensitive information, but everything that happens during session is confidential, he said.

“The records we keep are not part of your academic records,” he said. “We don’t release that information to anyone without written permission of the student.”

Professors are encouraged to talk to their students and suggest seeking counseling. Once students attend counseling, then it becomes confidential and that information cannot be shared with the professor unless allowed by the student, Rodriguez said.

“We go to great lengths to maintain that confidentiality.”

Because the program is not set up to be an in-depth or long-term counseling program, counselors at this college help students who have more serious or longer lasting problems find professionals in the community, Rodriguez said.

For more information, call 210-486-1620.


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