Counseling and Telemental Health

Contributed Content:

If you have ever felt the need to talk to someone, to get a different perspective, to find a neutral listener, to learn new ways of coping, or just to feel like you’re not carrying a burden alone, you have found some of the reasons people benefit from counseling. Kirkwood Counseling Services is a free, confidential resource for students, and the challenges of 2020 have highlighted the need for free helping resources.  

Why Counseling?  

Counselors at Kirkwood are licensed clinicians in the fields of mental health, marriage and family therapy, and social work. There is an assumption that one has to have a mental health diagnosis in order to utilize counseling… or that if they come to counseling, they will leave with a diagnosis. While we absolutely do help and support individuals with mental health diagnoses, we also help a wide variety of students facing all types of life adjustments and challenges.  

Our counselors are skilled in the area of mental health, but they also help individuals through a variety of life transitions. College is a time of experiencing many transitions: starting school; semester changes; new and changing jobs; moving; changing roommates; switching majors; graduating and/or moving on to the next college destination. Having someone to walk with through these adjustments, for encouragement, support and learning, is one of the benefits of free counseling at Kirkwood. 

Telemental Health Counseling 

Traditionally, Counseling Services has been able to offer in-person counseling sessions with students. The changes to our workplace since COVID-19 have required us to come up with options that allow for more protection, for both students and staff. Counseling Services spent this past summer working toward building a robust telemental health counseling program, to be able to meet with students virtually, in a safe and secure manner.  

How does Virtual Counseling work?  

All students begin with a pre-screening phone appointment, to ensure the student has access to the necessary resources for telemental health counseling to work well. Most students qualify for telemental health counseling, and those who have some barriers (such as not having a private place from which to meet) are able to work with their counselor to identify options to make virtual counseling work best for them. In the rare instance that someone does not qualify for telemental health services with Kirkwood, because their needs are outside of the scope of our practices, our counselors provide referrals to community-based options which can better meet the needs of that student. Once students are approved to participate in virtual counseling, they work with their counselor to set up regular Zoom sessions (most are once a week or once every other week), and each session is about 45-50 minutes long. The student and the counselor work together as a team, to help the client reach their goals. 

Not The Same As Online Providers 

It’s important for students to know that telemental health counseling, based here at Kirkwood, is different than the online counseling services they might see advertised (such as TalkSpace or BetterHelp). First of all, most of those services come at a cost. Kirkwood Counseling Services are free to all enrolled Kirkwood students. Secondly, some of those services may offer text or email, but never an opportunity to see and talk to the person giving you support. With Kirkwood’s Counseling Services, not only are you meeting with a Kirkwood employee, but you get to talk to them face-to-face via Zoom, and their knowledge of Kirkwood and community resources can be really beneficial… something you might not get with a national service and a clinician not from the local area. Lastly, meeting with a counselor who works for the college can be uniquely beneficial when you have stressors that affect your schoolwork. We have helped many students navigate accessing additional supports here on campus, such as Learning Services, when their needs spanned multiple areas. If a student needs to practice how to talk to an instructor about a support need, the counselor’s experience with these types of needs on our campus can influence the content of that practice in a really positive way. Our counselors’ knowledge of this school, its faculty, and our community resources, can provide added peace-of-mind in planning and strategizing how best to find the help a student needs in any given situation. 

We Look Forward To Meeting With You!  

Don’t hesitate to reach out to us and set up a time to meet with a counselor. We connect with students wherever they are at in their journey… maybe there’s not a crisis, maybe you just need help with time management or test anxiety. We are here as a resource and support for you throughout your college experience!  

Kirkwood Counseling Services 

Cedar Rapids: 2092 Cedar Hall 

Phone: 319-398-5400 

Iowa City: OneStop 

Phone: 319-887-3658 

Categories: Contributed, Feature

1 reply »

  1. It’s helpful to know that telemental health therapy can last about an hour per session. I’d like to discuss that with my daughter soon because she wouldn’t talk to me about her problems. If I can properly communicate with her how telemental health therapy works, she might be able to agree to go with that route instead.