After being understaffed for some time, the Lawrence University Wellness Center has added two more counselors to the counseling services. The program had deteriorated to just three staff-members last year due to former counselors moving on from Lawrence. This caused disruptions in therapy for those with standing-appointments with former staff-members and affected the quality of the program overall. Walk-in services were strained, and counselors were unable to commit to ongoing therapy as they were so busy trying to accommodate as many people as possible.
This year, the Center has welcomed Krystal Light and Rachel Hart to LU. Along with the addition last year of Kaitlyn Bellingar, the number of counselors is currently all the way up to six. “We’re really excited about these additions,” said Director of Wellness and Recreation Erin Buenzli. “It’s really going to add to the counseling outreach.”
The hope is that the new, more powerful counseling program will be able to recreate a reality where all students on campus have access to available, high quality and free emotional and mental support. Students can make appointments for counseling online or in person at the Wellness Center, and the staff works hard to fit everybody in as soon as possible. Walk-ins are welcome from 1 to 2:30 p.m. Monday through Friday, and there is even a 24/7 Lawrence Counseling line in the event that a student is experiencing a psychological crisis, which can be reached at 920-419-8167.
The status of the weekly or bi-weekly standing-appointments service is unclear, as the new counselors may still be settling into their new positions. However, Buenzli suggested that this option for students who are interested in ongoing therapy is either currently or soon-to-be available. She also emphasized that the huge breadth of services that are offered by the Wellness Center, unknown to many students, go far beyond the counseling program.
For example, Buenzli herself offers a service to students and staff called biofeedback. This consists of breathing exercises, heart rate monitoring, and other activities that are meant to be engaging to the recipient. “The purpose is to tie biology with technology,” said Buenzli, “so that you can try to understand your own physical response to stress. Once you understand it, and know how to control it, you can generalize it to situations that are stressful to you. In this way, you can come to be more functional and effective in your life.”
The Wellness Center also has a “mind spa” between the health and counseling services on the second floor. The “mind spa” includes a full body massage chair, meditation coaching, and water features. According to Buenzli, this is meant as just a quiet space that students can make their own. There are also services like support for victim-survivors of sexual assault and its prevention, provided by Catherine Kaye and nutritional counseling by Kate Harrell every Monday afternoon.
The Wellness Center also collaborates with student organizations at the university. They provide conversations about meditation and self-care, conversations that can be held among big groups and with individual students. Buenzli said that point is to “meet students where they’re at.” For her, the goal of the Center is not just to support students, but to enrich both the lives of everyone on campus, and by extension, the Lawrence community as a whole.