COVID-19 has changed how counseling looks on campus and has even given students a new app to use to help with their mental health.
Michele Turner, a staff counselor, said that even with the struggles of COVID, The Cook House offers one-on-one counseling, group counseling, crisis intervention, consultation, education and prevention services.
“The biggest change with COVID was finding online methods to support our students,” Turner said in an email interview with The Volante. “We started offering telehealth sessions, virtual groups, and we purchased an online counseling software, Therapy Assisted Online, to provide more resources for the student body.”
Prevention Coordinator, Ben Severson, said in an email interview with The Volante that the online methods used to support students can be helpful because students do not have to leave their room. Even with the addition of Therapy Assisted Online (TAO), Severson said students should still use actual counseling as their first source of help.
“We always hope students will increase their self-efficacy,” Severson said. “An app will not ever take the place of individual counseling. There is a vital therapeutic relationship between a client and the counselor.”
Severson said that in addition to counseling, TAO can offer low intensity-high engagement therapy. TAO offers educational and interactive modules, practice tools, journals and progress measures that are free to USD students and can help them take care of their mental health.
“In our society, I think it is easy to think about preventative things to do for our physical health yet often, our brain/mental health is overlooked,” Turner said. “TAO can help anyone learn preventative tools as well as intervention tools for their mental health and is easily accessible on computers or phones.”
Since the app is free for students, Severson said anyone who is interested in personal growth that focuses on improving self-awareness and understanding can benefit from using TAO.
“There is a lot of research on the benefits of self-help,” Turner said. “For some students, TAO may help them resolve their concerns, for others, combining TAO with face-to-face counseling is most effective. It depends on the individual and their needs.”
Students who are considering seeking help should contact the Student Counseling Center. In cases of crisis, students should call 911.