Let’s talk about counseling

Counseling Services could quite possibly be the greatest resource available to Lawrentians and could also be considered the one that is talked about the least. Approximately one-third of Lawrentians utilize Counseling Services in some capacity but, yet, it’s still something many of us struggle to talk about.


It’s probably tied to shame or, at least, that’s something my therapist always seems to bring up. I often experience feelings of shame when I do very human things, such as having emotions. 

With that in mind, then, it makes sense that I would generally avoid telling people that I regularly meet with Corynn Stoltenberg to help me feel more confident and competent in my ability to navigate this often difficult world.

But, at the end of the day, we don’t shame an athlete for going to the doctor with a sprained ankle, so, why should we shame ourselves for going to a counselor when we’re struggling? 

This comparison has been made time and time again, but that doesn’t make it any less legitimate. Why does one pain seem valid while the other makes many of us uncomfortable to even think about?

In my experience, mentioning therapy tends to make people incredibly uncomfortable, which is partially why I often avoid bringing it up in conversation. But by not talking about mental health, I am only allowing the stigma around mental illnesses to perpetuate. And, as someone who experiences and supports those who experience mental illnesses, this doesn’t really make sense. It simply does not make sense to skirt around the issues we face or the resources we have available.

In terms of resources, Lawrence has quite a few for mental health. The predominant one being the services provided by our six counselors. Just like visiting the nurse, the price of working with a counselor is already built into your cost of attendance. You’re paying for it regardless of whether you use it, so why wouldn’t you use it?

The average cost of therapy in the U.S. is $75 – $150 per session, but this varies greatly depending on health insurance and the therapist, according to Northwestern Mutual. Considering how costly this service is outside of the Lawrence Bubble, it’s a bit foolish to not utilize Counseling Services.

Aside from regular therapy sessions, Counseling Services also has a Counselor on Duty for students who may need support more urgently. From 8 a.m. – 4 p.m. Monday through Friday, one of the counselors is the assigned Counselor on Duty, meaning that they reserve 30-minute sessions throughout the day for more urgent appointments. They can be reached via email (wellnessservices@lawrence.edu)  or phone (920-832-6574) to meet with students the same day they reach out for support or, at least, the very next day, depending on availability.

Another resource available to students is the Lawrence University Counseling Line (920-419-8167), which is a 24/7 service that connects students with professional counselors outside of Lawrence. The Counseling Line can be utilized by anyone, regardless of whether they are in crisis or not. 

Campus Safety and a Residence Hall Director are also available 24/7 and can be utilized for a welfare check. This is something that you can utilize for yourself or for a peer. 

Regarding peers, something that I have noticed is that Lawrentians are weird. Well, we all knew that, though. 

But we’re weird in a very supportive kind of way — if a friend comes to us struggling, many of us will cast aside everything to support them. 

We care so deeply for each other, but caring can be painful. I speak from experience.

With that thought in mind, last year, I reached out to Wellness Services to address how Lawrence can better support those of us who experience these situations. They provided funding over the summer for me to become a trained instructor for the QPR suicide prevention program. 

QPR stands for Question, Persuade, Refer, and it focuses on the importance of open dialogue in the prevention of suicide. This school year, there have been several QPR training sessions offered to different groups on campus, including students, faculty and staff. If you want to learn more about QPR, please reach out to me at molly.a.ruffing@lawrence.edu.

Through therapy, I have learned more about myself and the world around me — how I can choose to interact with others and the consequences of those choices. I have learned that depressive episodes will come, but they will also go. I have learned that you cannot save people, but you can support them, and, sometimes, that is enough. I have learned to forgive others and possibly most difficult to forgive myself. I have learned that being vulnerable is terrifying but can be incredibly rewarding.

Therapy is scary. Feelings can be too. 

So, let’s talk about it. 

Let’s talk about how we can actually support each other and the resources that can address those fears. Let’s give ourselves some grace and be honest with each other. None of us are perfect. Each of us needs some sort of support. 

Let’s stop keeping one of our best resources a secret.