Psychological Counseling Services (PCS) has hired two new full-time counselors to specialize in community outreach. The new counselors, Paul Gitterman and Beverly Williams, both have experience in reaching out to groups in communities that are historically underrepresented in therapy.
According to Dr. John Miner, co-director of PCS, the new hires had been a goal for the College before the effects of the economic recession set in. Following the loss of a staff member to retirement, PCS has remained focused on simply keeping up with demand. “The last few years, we’ve been so busy actually seeing students that we haven’t had time for this,” Miner said. “A few years ago, we realized that there were certain student groups and certain issues that weren’t getting here.”
Gitterman and Williams both have experience working with college communities. Before accepting his position at the College, Gitterman worked as a counselor at Bennington College; Williams previously served as the clinical psychologist at Brown. While part of their job is to increase the number of underrepresented students who use counseling services on campus, their main goal is to increase the accessibility of these services to the entire community, a skill that both Gitterman and Williams demonstrated in their previous employment.
PCS already offers “Let’s Talk,” a program based in Paresky Center that offers students a safe space to speak to counselors in an informal setting. By continuing the program, Gitterman hopes that psychological counseling services can attract a wider range of students.
“There are some people who don’t want counseling, but want to talk about certain social and community issues and how they affect them,” Gitterman said. “Many students here are adjusting to certain social dynamics. Those are conversations that don’t necessarily need to happen in a clinical setting.”
Programs like “Let’s Talk” are relatively new additions to a field that has traditionally existed in a strictly clinical context.
By offering informal conversations between students and professionals, psychological counseling services aims to increase the number of students who feel comfortable interacting with the counselors. It will also allow students to decide whether they would like to participate in treatment.
“Most students have never been in any kind of therapy, so it’s an odd enterprise,” Miner said. “Holding these non-clinical programs that may lead to treatment if it makes sense for a person is the real expertise that the new hires bring.”