New Counseling Center program brings shorter wait times, more accessibility

The UM Counseling Center now offers "brief assessments" that streamline the process of providing support. Photo credit: Jared Lennon

October marks the beginning of Depression Awareness Month, a time dedicated to bringing awareness to the effects of mental illness and advocating for resources to meet people where they are.

At the University of Miami, the Counseling Center is the on-campus resource providing services such as group therapy, personalized consultations and even a massage chair.

This academic year, the Counseling Center has developed a new system to provide resources and support to as many students as possible. These changes are coming in response to two week wait times and many students feeling rushed out of appointments.

The UM Counseling Center now offers "brief assessments" that streamline the process of providing support. Photo credit: Jared Lennon

The new system, called the “brief assessment,” features a 20 to 30 minute appointment during which a student will meet with a therapist to discuss current concerns, gain support and resources, learn more about Counseling Center services and collaboratively discuss the appropriate next steps for treatment.

The system is in its eighth week of implementation, and Andrea Biel, a doctoral intern at the Counseling Center, said students have given a lot of positive feedback.

“Early reports suggest that students are finding our resources, services and therapists to be accessible, helpful and welcoming,” Biel said. “Students appreciate the ability to be seen much sooner and being directed to an appropriate level of care.”

Students are able to schedule an appointment for the assessment one to two days in advance or on a walk-in basis Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Brie Bigham, the chair of COPE, a student-run organization that conducts outreach for the Counseling Center, said through the new brief assessment, students are able to know their options in a timely manner and plan for what the next step in their treatment plan. This way, students can quickly find out if the Counseling Center is right for them and receive referrals for off-campus resources if necessary.

Grace Harrington has used the brief assessment this academic year and said she has experienced its benefits.

“This semester, I’ve had a great experience,” said Grace Harrington, a junior majoring in religious studies and political science. “My counselor is wonderful, and I don’t feel like I’m taking someone else’s space.”

Located next to Pavia Garage and the Wesley Foundation, the Counseling Center aims to be a safe and supportive environment for all students and is open Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Tuesday and Thursday 8:30 a.m. to 7 p.m. Counselors can be reached by phone after hours at 305-284-5511.