July 14, 2016

Marquez J. Slaughter, Intern

Counseling Center Offers Latest Therapeutic Techniques

The Counseling Center staff team includes (left to right, standing) Heidi O'Connor, licensed associate professional counselor and staff counselor; Ryan Couillou, licensed psychologist and training coordinator; Brenda Johnson, administrative secretary; Bradford Coleman, licensed associate professional counselor and staff counselor; and (left to right, sitting) Tricia Hale, licensed professional counselor and director; Rebecca Smith, licensed professional counselor and assistant director; Holly Wright, staff counselor. 

VALDOSTA — The Valdosta State University Counseling Center now offers eye movement desensitization and reprocessing therapy. 

Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing therapy is a psychotherapy approach that is used to treat individuals with post-traumatic stress disorder. It reportedly helps a person see disturbing material in a less disturbing way and has been proven effective in also treating addictions, phobias, eating disorders, pain disorders, performance anxiety, complicated grief, dissociative disorders, and more.

“We have been seeing more students with trauma and wanted to make sure we had the tools to best help them,” said Rebecca Smith, assistant director of the Counseling Center.

Smith said that Dr. Tricia Hale, director of the Counseling Center, asked each of the VSU-based counselors if they were interested in being trained in eye movement desensitization and reprocessing therapy.

“All of us were interested in being trained because the evidence is so clear about its effectiveness,” said Smith.

The Counseling Center team works to offer a broad range of personal, educational, and wellness services aimed at maximizing the personal growth and development of VSU’s students. This includes individual counseling, group counseling, workshops, seminars, and access to a relaxation room.

The Counseling Center offers a relaxation room, complete with a massage chair and aroma, sound, and light therapy. Students are able to reserve the room in 30-minute sessions.

The Counseling Center also offers EmWave, biofeedback program that helps students learn to relax and control their symptoms of anxiety.

Smith said that many VSU students have anxiety. She said other college counseling centers have used biofeedback to help students reduce anxiety and received positive reviews.

“Students use EmWave or biofeedback in general to learn how to regulate their breathing while thinking about calming or positive thoughts,” said Smith. “This helps to lower their heart rate and overall anxiety.”  

Heidi O’Connor, a staff counselor with the Counseling Center, is certified in biofeedback and coaches and assists the students in using this technology to regulate their breathing.

The EmWave program tracks heart rate variability through a sensor that attaches to the user’s ear lobe. 

New this fall, the Counseling Center will offer individual counseling sessions in the Student Engagement Center in Thaxton Hall on the Rea and Lillian Steele North Campus beginning Aug. 15.

Dr. L. Wayne Plumly Jr., dean of the Harley Langdale Jr. College of Business Administration, collaborated with the Counseling Center to help students and made it possible for a counselor to be on the Rea and Lillian North Campus 10 hours a week. Students will be able to meet with a counselor weekly or bi-weekly for therapy sessions.

Also in the fall, the Counseling Center will offer workshops and seminars that will focus on managing test anxiety, stress, and wellness.

“We try to pick topics that were the most attended previously,” said Smith. “We also pick topics based on issues we see most often with our clients in individual counseling.”

The test anxiety workshop series will kick off at 4 p.m. on Sept. 7 in the Counseling Center Conference Room.

Workshops are also offered online and include “Stress 101,” which begins July 15, and an online graduate student wellness workshop series that begins Sept. 1. Smith said these workshops are ideal for online students and students that prefer information through technology devices in the comfort of their residence.

The Counseling Center is located in Powell Hall East on the second floor and is open from 8 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Monday through Thursday and 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Friday. Services are available to students only and are provided free of charge. Consultations for faculty and staff are available if they have concerns about students and want guidance on how to help them. Online resources are open to faculty, staff, and students. Staff counselors are on call 24 hours a day, seven days a week for crisis response for students.

Contact Rebecca Smith at rebecsmith@valdosta.edu or (229) 333-5940 for more information.

On the Web:

Valdosta State University’s 2013-2019 Strategic Plan represents a renewal of energy and commitment to the foundational principles for comprehensive institutions.

Implementation of the plan’s five goals, along with their accompanying objectives and strategies, supports VSU’s institutional mission and the University System of Georgia’s mission for comprehensive universities. 

The story above demonstrates VSU's commitment to meeting the following goals: 

Goal 1: Recruit, retain, and graduate a quality, diverse student population and prepare students for roles as leaders in a global society.

Goal 3: Promote student, employee, alumni, retiree, and community engagement in our mission.

Visit http://www.valdosta.edu/administration/planning/strategic-plan.php to learn more.