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ORU counseling department expands

Mental health isn’t a taboo topic anymore, but it is still a problem people face all over the world. While college may seem like a hotspot for stress and anxiety, ORU’s expanded counseling department hopes to better accommodate student needs. 

A new director, three full-time counselors, two fall graduate interns and an intervention and intake counselor position rounds out a 36% staff increase from years past.

Dr. Haley French, a licensed professional counselor from Colorado, stepped into the director of counseling services role. Dr. French earned a M.Div from ORU in 2009, an M.A. in Clinical Counseling from Denver Seminary in 2012 and, this year, a Ph.D in Practical Theology from the University of Aberdeen in Scotland. 

The Counseling Department also occupies new offices in the recently opened Nursing and Engineering Complex, with more space for counseling and instructional rooms.

“We needed an expanded staff and space, and there’s definitely vision for the future as well,” said Dr. French. “The space in LRC 5 was probably not sufficient for growing and wanting to serve the needs of the students, so this is definitely in step with looking ahead.”

All students may receive 10 private, typically one-hour counseling sessions per academic year with no extra fees, Monday through Friday from 9 to 5 p.m. There are potential extra sessions for students during the summer, based on availability and the students needs.

Students can make appointments through the ORU website or on the student life app. Students will fill out an availability schedule, which will be compared with counselor openings and scheduled accordingly.

“They may still wait for a little bit, but the bigger picture is that we’re able to see and offer services to more students throughout the year,” Dr. French explained. “We take great care and pride in working with the wonderful students at ORU, both in individual and group settings.”

The Coping Clinic, a small group held Tuesdays 3:30 to 4:30 p.m. in the instructional room, provides a place for students to discuss various dilemmas that may come with adjusting to a new college atmosphere and pursuing purpose in an academic setting. The clinic helps to track the needs of the students to better identify patterns and prepare them for the future. 

Counselor Luis Jimenez, MA, LPC, taught the first few weeks of class on emotional awareness, self-care and general coping skills. Counseling staff and interns teach in rotations every three to four weeks, and the upcoming topics and units will be announced as the semester progresses.

“It’s not a therapeutic group—it’s a psycho-educational group, which is a distinction we make so that it’s open to more people,” Dr. French said. “They can come some weeks and not the next, whatever suits them.”

Students are also encouraged to attend the Hope Clinic, which is an eight-week skill-building group specifically to help those who are struggling with depression, grief, overwhelming feelings or burnout. 

Co-led by Dr. French and Dr. Philip Nelson, the group covers topics including how to cope with major life changes, grief, loss, personal values, setting achievable goals, safety planning and healthy thought patterns. 

The Hope Clinic meets on Thursdays from 11 a.m. to noon in the new counseling offices in the Nursing and Engineering Complex, NEC 250T. To indicate attendance beforehand, students can email and put ‘The Hope Clinic’ on the subject line.

“We feel it is an honor to walk alongside students as they process through the difficulties of life,” said Dr. French. “We value them, their stories, and the time we have with them. By the power of the Holy Spirit, we seek to be instruments of healing in their lives.”

Photo by James Adamski