Monday, June 29, 2015

The Comprehensive Counseling Center

In a previous post I presented information about counseling center service models currently in use higher education, quickly gleaned from an informal survey of center directors. It revealed a range of diversity in organizations that I believe is healthy for campuses and students, as it serves to match local needs and culture to practice. Occasionally there are efforts to homogenize organizations, just as what may occur in other industries. In order to preserve the richness of centers and advocate for their continuing vitality, a group has formed to define what is central to an impactful and thriving center, no matter in what organization or structure it is embedded.

To that end, the Comprehensive Counseling Center (CCC) has been defined. Here I present this definition, as well as the purpose of its advocacy. Though I post it in this blog, this is authored by several current counseling center directors and is supported by more than 20 others to whom it has been presented thus far.


  • Establish a support network among and on behalf of CCC's.
  • Develop a presence and a voice supporting CCC's, particularly with college and university administrators and governing bodies.
  • Promote the full range of CCC capabilities.
  • Foster joint projects of interest, conduct research, gather data and publish findings related to the work of CCC's.
  • Share creative and effective ideas among participants, and generate new ideas through dialogue.
  • Support allied organizations - AUCCCD, IACS, CCMH, ACCA, ACPA CCAPS, ACCCO, ACCCCS, ACCTA, APA Division 17 CC group and others whose work primarily focuses on counseling centers functions on campuses. Advocate for dialogue with organizations such as NASPA, ACHA and APA.
  • The CCC is focused on quality professional mental and behavioral health services and roles, including as its prime mission excellent counseling and therapy services provided to students by credentialed, licensed, diverse and experienced staff. College mental health is a specialty in its own right and worthy of recognition and support from campus administrators.
  • A cornerstone of college counseling is a developmental orientation toward students that is entirely consistent with the deepest traditions of education, understanding young adults as well as non-traditional students through the lens of an emerging process of becoming contributing adults and citizens. Special awareness and attention is given to the needs of diverse populations and underserved groups. Academic success is a vital component in this work. The CCC assists students in building their strengths, beyond solely a content-based perspective of symptoms and deficits.
  • The CCC is an out-reaching center, connecting to the entire campus community. It is centered on the full range of individual, group and systemic needs and engaged in prevention and early intervention as well as remediation. It is concerned with all facets of well-being and resilience, anchored in multicultural awareness and approaches that are sensitive to diversity at all levels of service. When firefighters are not fighting fires, they are working on community education and prevention – these are all the roles of the CCC.
  • The CCC serves as the primary consultant to the campus in all efforts to improve the mental health and behavioral health of students. CCC staff proactively engage students, administration, faculty, staff and parents through collaboration and consultation, supporting a larger vision for campus mental health. CCC staff are personally involved and proactively engaged wherever possible on campus, lowering stigma and promoting meaningful conversations, partnerships and actions that lead to effective intervention at all levels. Partnerships include student services and academic administrators, student life, residence life, health services and wellness, recreation and athletics, campus safety/police, student academic support staff, parents and families, and foremost, students and student organizations and coalitions.
  • The CCC has an additional vital role in consulting with those who are concerned about students needing help related to mental health concerns. This is done through avenues such as on-call services, Student of Concern committees and Threat Assessment committees.
  • The CCC has primary role that differs from that of any other department as the leader in campus mental and behavioral health and thus not an auxiliary to any other role or function. The CCC’s licensed staff members possess specific and unique skills in supporting mental and behavioral health efforts within the complex and diverse world of the college campus. The CCC has a proud and credible history of service on college and university campuses that has endured for decades. Overall support for these services has increased on campuses in recent years and reflects the value campuses place on them.
  • The CCC focuses on training and education at three levels:
    • Where feasible, the CCC trains future professionals through supervised practice, including trainees engaged in the full spectrum of CCC work.
    • The CCC trains students and campus partners as mental health gatekeepers and partners through both brief and more intensive training experiences in mental health awareness, suicide prevention, etc.
    • CCC staff pursue their own continued training and professional development to stay fresh and current in the field.