Counseling Center enhances services for new year

Lachlan Johnson

Whitman’s Counseling Center is improving its services in preparation for the academic year under the guidance of its new director Thacher Carter. New services will include expanded drop-in hours and an electronic organizational system.

Carter said he is excited to be joining the Counseling Center staff.

“When I first came to Whitman, I didn’t want to change anything. I just wanted to see how the system worked, because it was working before, so it’s not like there was something wrong with it,” he said. Since settling in, Carter has instigated several changes to help the Center serve students more efficiently.

Carter is replacing Dr. Richard Jacks as the director of the Counseling Center this year. He hopes the Center will provide a “humanistic overview in terms of how we can help someone navigate college and navigate life.” When working towards his doctorate in clinical psychology, Carter visited Whitman to attend the Northwest Directors Meeting and was impressed by the school.

“I remember looking at Rich Jacks and wondering when he was going to retire,” said Carter. Jacks’ tenure at Whitman lasted for another 19 years, during which time Carter worked as the Counseling Center director at Eastern Oregon University, but now Carter has returned to Whitman to head the counseling program.

One change Carter is overseeing at the Counseling Center is the transfer from paper to electronic records. While the majority of counseling centers throughout the country use electronic records, before this year Whitman still used paper records to track patients. Electronic records will allow the center to help students more quickly and efficiently.

“Everything can be in one spot, on a program, and everything is easier to access and organize,” said Tyler Moorehead, a graduate student working in the center.

Also debuting this fall are new drop-in hours from 1 to 3 p.m. Monday and Wednesday and 9 to 11 a.m. Tuesday and Thursday.

In previous years the Counseling Center had an hour every day for drop-ins, during which two students could be helped in half-hour sessions. The new drop-in hours can provide six students with 20-minute sessions. If students can’t be seen within 20 minutes of arriving, they will be asked to come by the next drop-in time.

“In the past we had such a high demand from students and a really hard time managing all of them,” said counselor Tracee Anderson. According to Anderson, the Counseling Center saw roughly 27.5 percent of the student body last year, and expects to see a similar amount of students this year.

After arrival, students fill out an intake form which is entered into the new software. The form gives the center some basic information about the problems the student is facing. With this information, the Center can decide which of its counselors are best suited for each student, or whether the student would be better helped by another resource at Whitman or in the wider community.

“We’re triaging people a little differently,” said Anderson. “We’re still going to see a lot of students for regular ongoing care, but we might shift some out to some different places. Maybe they need to go to the ARC [Academic Resource Center]. Maybe they need to go downtown to get some substance abuse treatment.”

The Counseling Center will continue to provide free and confidential one-on-one and group counseling.