Counseling services available from center at Woody Hall

By Gus Bode

For the transitional period that comes with going to college, along with the typical angst that comes along with being a student, SIUC offers confidential counseling services to those in need of someone to talk to.

The primary source of counseling is available to students at the counseling center in Woody Hall. At this location, students are given the opportunity to discuss their problems in a group, individual or couple setting. In the couple setting, it is only required that one of the participants be an SIUC student. Students are also provided with the chance to discuss their academic and occupational concerns in what is known as career counseling.

In order to receive counseling, it is mandatory that prospective clients fill out an intake that, on average, takes an hour to complete. While the paperwork may be somewhat time-consuming, it aids in assuring that students are linked with the appropriate counselor for their situation.


Janet Coffman, chief psychologist at Woody Hall, said that while the counseling services of SIUC want to ensure an adequate match for student and counselor and realize that this can be a lengthy process, it is also understood that, occasionally, an individual will be in need of emergency services. For times such as these, emergency counseling is provided.

In these situations, when a person appears to be in dire need of assistance, no paperwork or charge is necessary, and the person will be matched with a counselor immediately. If the emergency occurs prior to or following the office hours of 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., there is the option of contacting Network, a hotline that has signed a contract with SIUC committed to helping individuals with pressing, traumatic situations.

Aside from Network counseling, which is provided by trained volunteers, all mental health counseling is performed by 10 licensed staff members, as well as five interns from various countries, whose counseling credits will provide them with the final requirements for their doctorate. If not licensed, counselors are supervised by senior staff members while providing services.

Last year, the counseling center served 689 students. This does not include the hundreds that came in for emergency counseling.

Coffman said she believes the incidents of Sept. 11 could have played a role in the increase in clients. She credits recent improvements in the staff’s ability to quickly reach patients as an important factor in helping the great deal of individuals in need of counseling.

The counseling center may have had a reputation for being slow in the past, Coffman said, but we’ve arranged things so that more than half of the people get in within about three days.

Despite the center’s ability to serve students at a faster pace, she wants to remind those interested in services that, with the center operating on a first-come first-serve basis, the quicker you come in the better.


As well as faster service, Coffman said the low cost is an additional benefit of receiving counseling through SIUC. For only $5 for the first 15 sessions, students will receive top-of the-line assistance from highly trained professionals.

In addition to services provided at Woody Hall, there is also an on-duty psychologist at Kesnar Hall, as well as a psychiatrist able to prescribe medication to those in need. Along with three nurses, they work to provide a second outlet for individual counseling for SIUC students during the same hours as the counseling center.

Ken Carr, publicity promotions specialist for Student Health Programs, said parents are always impressed with what the SIUC mental health programs have to offer at a low cost.

I’ve been involved with the program for 28 years, Carr said. And every year, parents are amazed with what a caring staff we have and how well they relate to the students.