Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Service Models in College Counseling Centers

An earlier post focused on one role and philosophy for campus counseling services based on my professional experiences.  But discussion on this subject would not be complete without an at least a brief overview of various service models already in use across the United States and perhaps other countries as well.

I have been surprised, 
even dismayed, to repeatedly observe how little literature or direction is available concerning these guiding philosophies or models.  Since very few mental health professionals receive any management training prior to becoming the manager of counseling services, this places new or emerging directors in a vulnerable position.  In the haste to develop services sorely needed by students, we can create a patchwork of disjointed programs and services which may not be rationally related nor focused on any particular values or orientations.  Further, we may also be vulnerable to other influences which are better schooled in business models but which have little to nothing to offer in the area of psychotherapy or relationship-based healing.

A comprehensive view of existing models is beyond the scope of a brief blog post.  Suffice it to say that what is offered here is a sample, a taste if you will, of the choices available to campus leaders.  It is my hope that this may whet appetities to examine this more deeply, and to investigate what models may best suit a particular campus, its culture, and its student body.  The reader will note that definitions are not presented here.  This is partly because the literature is so scanty I am not sure there are agreed upon definitions available, and partly because I do not want to constrain the imaginations of managers working to grow a center (more on that later).

The list below was developed by a convenience email sample of counseling service directors in August of 2014.  It is not to be construed as complete or exhaustive.  Each of the models listed have advantages and disadvantages, and none, in my opinion, is inherently superior to the others in all contexts, though some may claim otherwise.  And context is the key: understand yours first.  Then select the models or models which you think may best suit campus needs.  Then investigate and experiment and evaluate and refine.

A Sample of Service Models

1. Bio-Psycho-Social Model

2. Brief Therapy Models

     a. Brief Intermittent Model

     b. Short Term Episodic Model

     c. Time Attendant Model

3. Building Resiliency and Supporting Personal Success and Goals Model

4. Campus Stakeholder Model

5. Client-Directed, Outcome Informed Model

6. Community Mental Health Model

    a. Brief Campus-wide Services Model

7. Consultation or Organizational and Community Development Model

8. Contextual/Environmental/Ecological/Systemic Models

9. Cube Model

10. Developmental Model

    a. Broad-based Comprehensive Student Development Model

11. Educational Services Model

12. Feminist Model

13. Human Service Model

14. Medical, Health Service or Clinical Model

15. Multicultural and Cross Cultural Models

16. Public Health Model

17. Strengths-based Model

18. Hybrid (of two or more)

Significant Areas of Emphasis in Centers

1. Training Emphasis

2. Evidence-based Therapy