Individual counseling scarce at San Diego State


by Caitlynne Leary, Staff Writer

Counseling and Psychological Services offers many programs for students, faculty and staff at San Diego State: a Center for Well-Being, counseling services and special crisis intervention programs for those in need, but some students have a hard time accessing those resources.

When students encounter mental or emotional problems the first place faculty and staff suggest going is the Calpulli Center and Counseling and Psychological Services.

Some students, however, have a difficult time making appointments to see a counselor that fits with both their schedules and the available time slots.

Jennifer Rikard, director of Counseling and Psychological Services, said in an email that the average wait time for counseling appointments is between one to three weeks.

If students are only available for one hour in a single week, like 1 p.m. to 2 p.m. on Wednesdays, they may end up having to wait longer, she said.

One senior felt she was let down last year during a time of great pain when she called to talk to a counselor. After a close family friend passed away due to traumatic circumstances, she called CPS while on her lunch break from her full time job.

“All I wanted was a counselor to call me back,” she said. “There was no part of me that was okay. But they told me I had to come fill out a questionnaire before a counselor could speak to me. I felt like I was out of options.”

The problem for her was her schedule. She worked full time during the day, went to class at night and did homework when she could. The day she really needed help she said there was no way for her to take the afternoon off to go fill out a questionnaire.

“I just didn’t understand why there wasn’t anyone able to help me,” she said. “The person who answered the phone basically told me the only way they could help me was if I came into the office and I just couldn’t do that. It was a really disappointing experience.”

She eventually got the help she needed, but her inability to be on campus by 4:30 p.m. made a terrible day worse for her.

University of California Los Angeles Higher Education Research Institute surveyed college freshmen from 2015 and found that student’s emotional well-being is the lowest since the survey began in 1985.

Students are spending less time socializing and more are reporting feeling overwhelmed.

With students having so many responsibilities and higher stress levels, it is important they feel they have a safe place to go with on-campus counseling services.

Counseling and Psychological Services offers several groups and workshops to help students relax and cope with the stress that comes with school.

The Center for Well-Being has massage chairs, an academic stress biofeedback program and individual counseling sessions available to those in need.

This semester they have rolled out a new weekly program called “Single Servings.” These are one-time workshops every Tuesday that cover a variety of topics, such as Intro to Mindfulness, How to Keep Your Cool and Relax with Bax, the CPS therapy dog.

Rikard said there are emergency appointments available everyday for students who need them, along with programs that have no wait times and referrals to other community programs.

“The good thing is that when students call for services, they can typically talk with a counselor by phone quickly,” she said. “The counselor can assess their individual needs and make recommendations that will best meet the needs.”