University offers online counseling to students

By Diana Anghel, Assistant News Editor

On March 16, the University Counseling Center announced it will immediately switch to a phone triage system until online counseling is launched.

Students that are under the University’s United Healthcare can now access online counseling through third-party counseling services. Those that do not have University insurance can speak with a clinician from the Counseling Center by setting up a phone appointment.

Group counseling, psychoeducation and all other workshops are canceled for the rest of the semester. The Counseling Center’s website says it is “exploring other ways to offer these programs virtually.” 

“We are still in the process of getting our online services launched, and there are quite a few details that still need to be worked out,” said Nichole Evans, the center’s assistant director of outreach and prevention and media communication coordinator, in an email. 

Evans added that entities such as the University’s legal team need to approve of the online counseling program before it is offered. Until then, all consultations will be done by phone for students who have questions or are concerned about their mental health, she said. 

One of the partner companies that students with healthcare through the university can use is BetterHelp Online Counseling. Their services provide available psychologists, licensed professional counselors, clinical social workers and marriage and family therapists. Counseling sessions can be held over the phone, live chat or video call. 

“By having access to multiple different counselors that are in your state and you don’t have to go and drive to them, we can access more counselors with specific expertise that you otherwise might not be able to find,” said James Imrie, BetterHelp’s creative manager. 

In Illinois, a professional counselor license requires the completion of a master’s or doctorate degree in counseling from a regionally accredited institution, according to Online Counseling Programs. 

Imrie said this is just the first step to becoming a counselor with BetterHelp. A positive state reputation and an application process accompany a potential employee. 

Katie Hoopes, success manager of BetterHelp, said clients click a date and a time that works for them, choose the preferred modality, and the counseling session is scheduled. 

The Counseling Center recognizes on its website that this is also a stressful time for faculty and staff where “there is a great deal of uncertainty.” The website provide links to an article about coping and staying emotionally well during COVID-19-related school closures and CDC’s advice on stress and coping

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