OU Counseling Center hires two new part-time therapists


Sergio Montanez

Counseling Director David Schwartz talks about new hires in the counseling center and how it will help students this winter semester.

After a record-breaking, high demand semester, the Oakland University Counseling Center hired two temporary, part-time therapists to decrease student wait times.

The new staff members, Dr. Mindee Juve and Liza Hinchey, MA, were hired and funded through the university after the Dean of Students office and the counseling center felt there was a need to provide more support to students, and that need would continue through the winter semester, according to Dean of Students Michael Wadsworth.

The student waitlist was becoming so large, OU Counseling Center Director Dr. David Schwartz said the center eventually had to tell students they could not be seen until the start of the winter semester, and patient triage, where the center accesses a student’s immediate need, was left at a stand still.

Wadsworth took his position as dean of students at the start of the semester, allowing him to become the new overseer and an advocate for the OU Counseling Center and the Graham Health Center. He said the students’ needs for the center concern retention, and the center has a direct influence on student success at Oakland.

“What [having more therapists] means for students is the counseling center is better able to meet their needs,” Wadsworth said. “The more people we have over there that can see students, the quicker students can get in to see somebody.”

At its worst point, the waitlist was at over 100 students, according to Schwartz, the average wait time being at 6-8 weeks.

With five full-time therapists, two part-time therapists, plus the two just hired, Schwartz said the center can now strive to reduce its waitlist, continue doing triage and open campus outreach, and establish group therapy sessions.

Schwartz said there was a 30 percent waitlist decrease right after the new part-time employees started. He said his goal is to remove the list entirely, but it’s difficult to do so with such an immediate need.

“Certainly, I’m not comfortable with any waitlist,” Schwartz said, “but I am also a realist, and I understand that’s just the reality of the situation at all college counseling centers pretty much across the country right now.”

The part-time therapists are set to stay through the end of the semester. Wadsworth said the Dean of Students office and the OU Counseling Center will soon look into the need for the coming academic year and see if they need to hire additional therapists.

“I think having the two people and getting that support from the administration just meant a lot for the staff here,” Schwartz said. “In terms of students, the wait times are going to be shorter, and it also allows us to do more of the outreach and other things that we really like to do.”

Students who come to the counseling center are allotted six free therapy sessions and then additional sessions are $12, though Schwartz said the center never turns down students.

For students, Wadsworth said he, Schwartz and the Graham Health Center are working to become more efficient sources for students.

“We are looking at ways to be more effective and efficient in all of our services over there,” he said. “Myself, the director of the counseling center and the director of the Graham Health Center, Nancy Jansen, are coming together in meetings to try and find ways that those two areas can work more closely together to better serve students, and hopefully there’s some efficiencies that might come out of that.”

Students interested in going to the OU Counseling Center can visit the center’s website for more information or call (248) 370-3465.