Students Voice Concerns Over Cuts in Counseling Center


The university has furloughed employees from various departments across campus. One cut, in particular, has concerned students.

During one of her sessions with the Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS), freshman Danielle Leahey’s therapist told her that she, along with two other therapists, have been cut from the department’s staff.

“I am going to be honest, I broke down in tears,” said Leahey. “Changing to online classes, not being on a college campus, not being with friends, having to work during the pandemic; nothing was stable in my life, but I thought CAPS was that stability.”

In response to the news, Leahey started a petition to restore the staff, and it currently has 1,141 signatures with a goal of obtaining 1,500.

“Three out of six therapists being cut for the summer just does not make sense,” said Leahey. “Students need easy access to counseling, especially during the summer because we are unsure of the conditions of next semester.”

Comments on the petition have flooded in. One user said, “I’m signing because CAPS is a necessity for our college, and cutting counselors is a premature decision that should be rectified.”

In an email to the Charger Bulletin, Rebecca Johnson, vice president for student affairs and dean of students, said that “student health is a high priority for the university” and the decision was made after consultation with senior professional staff and respective supervisors.

“I hope you can understand that with students away from campus the demand for certain services and the number of individuals needed to provide those services will be diminished over the summer months,” said Johnson. “While students may not be able to continue therapy with the same individual, we will continue to meet the counseling needs of those students who desire support.”

Johnson said that furloughs are expected to be for two and a half months and CAPS should be fully staffed in the fall.

“I have been working closely with one therapist there and have made major improvements in my life,” said Leahey. “It was my first time going to therapy and CAPS made me feel like the stigma against mental health was gone.”

Charles Anderson, university director of counseling and psychological services, said the center continues to offer its services, including individual therapy, psychiatric services, support groups, consultation, and emergency/crisis services. They also feature the daily activities of Brue, their staff therapy dog, on the Instagram account @dogsinthehall.

He said that the main difference is that all treatment is now being conducted using secure, HIPAA-compliant online video platforms.

“While it is not the same as being physically in the room with students, we have found that telehealth therapy is very effective and students (and therapists) adjust very quickly to this new way of working,” said Anderson. “An additional benefit is that this mode of treatment will allow us to continue to support students through the summer months in ways that were previously not possible.”

He said that a challenge for students is finding a private location where they do not have to worry about being disturbed during their therapy sessions.

The counseling center is available 24/7 by calling (203) 932-7333 and pressing option 2 to reach the on-call clinician.

“I recommend that students strive to establish a healthy routine that creates some structure and predictability in their day,” said Anderson. “Find ways to interact safely with supportive friends, family members, and fellow students.”