Psych service hours shrinking High demand, fewer staff strain the department

By Catherine Lee
The Guardsman

The City College department of psychological services has been forced to decrease the hours of therapy it offers to students.

“In the past, when we had more staff hours, it was typical for us to see a student for 45 to 50 minutes,” said Lori Wong, a licensed clinical social worker who works part-time on campus. “However, at peak times now, we must often reduce the length of sessions to accommodate as many students as we can.”

Psychological services employs seven part-time therapists who provide individual and group counseling. Their availability to students ranges from one morning to a maximum of four days per week.

Donna O’Rourke, the receptionist, is the only full-time staff member.

“Students come in or call and indicate what they have available from Monday to Friday. Then I need to align their schedule to a counselor,” O’Rourke said.

Sometimes it takes as long as two days to find an appointment that fits for the student and the therapist, she said.

“Psychological services would be enhanced with increased staff hours, furthering our ability to provide more direct services, classroom presentations and outreach, faculty consultations and to continue our training program for future mental health professionals,” Wong said.

The program previously had seven interns who were training to become therapists and now only has three.

The semester health fee of $17, paid by everyone who takes credit classes at City College, allows students to utilize psychological services, as well as nursing services, Wong said.

Therapists also facilitate weekly support groups on how to build healthy relationships, overcome anxiety and self-consciousness, teach successful communication skills and provide tools to improve mood and stop procrastinating.

Other support groups, like the test anxiety workshop, which is offered on the first or second Monday of each month, are single sessions of two hours.

Student Beatriz Orellana discovered the procrastination workshop through campus fliers and was anticipating a good experience at her second group session at the Health Center.

“I was in a support group before in a different place and it helped,” she said.

The spring semester weekly support groups began during the first week of February. Students who want to join them should call the department to ask about open seats.

Licensed clinical social worker Sam Edwards facilitates the procrastination support group and the self-consciousness workshop.

“Students who join these groups seem to get a lot out of it,” Edwards said. It is still possible to join these groups until the middle of this month.


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