Maximize Counseling Center Operations and Efficiency
Counseling centers have experienced a surge of demand across the last decade, with no signs of slowing. Institutions can better meet demand and student needs by improving clinical efficiency. Clinical time is an extremely valuable resource, so using that time effectively will benefit students and institutions.
Determine and write a scope of services statement for on-campus care
As demand for counseling services continues to rise, counseling centers must grapple with the fact that they can’t provide all types of services with finite resources. Bring together counseling center and student affairs leadership to define your institution’s mission and goals for campus mental health services. Use our discussion guide to help reach a consensus.
Leaders must determine how to prioritize clinical resources in order to maximize counseling center operations and efficiency. Your institution likely doesn’t have the resources to provide both accessibility for all students (quick access to care for students with short-term needs) and intensity (ongoing treatment for students with specialized or complex care needs), so your campus must decide how to allocate limited clinical resources. Use this tool to help you create your scope of services statement.
Communicate your scope of care statement so students and families understand the types of care they can and cannot expect through campus services. Setting expectations early prompts students and families to think ahead about how they will access care for long-term, intensive, or specialized mental health care.
Individual therapy appointments represent valuable clinical time. Counseling centers should maximize one-on-one sessions through intentional goal-setting conversations and frequent progress checks.
Reframe individual therapy as a structured, goal-oriented treatment option with a clear end point. Regular checkpoints help clinicians and students monitor progress and establish a treatment plan that is responsive to students’ ongoing progress and needs, whether that means continuing with individual therapy, exploring other treatment options, or concluding treatment.
"Too often, students are meandering through counseling until they reach the end of the semester or an arbitrary appointment limit. Instead, they should be actively working with their counselor to answer this question: How do I know when I don’t need counseling anymore?"
Director of Counseling Services, Public Research University
Reinvigorate group therapy
Group therapy offers many advantages to students and counseling centers. It is proven to be clinically effective, it is adaptable and scalable for evolving student needs, and it increases clinical capacity. But common roadblocks (including lack of education and complicated logistics) hamper widespread use of group therapy on many campuses. Use this resource to help you reinvigorate group therapy.
Reinvigorate group therapy on your campus by reeducating clinicians, rebranding group therapy to attract students, and using data to determine which topics will best serve students. Listen to our on-demand webconference for four recommendations to build a successful group program on campus.
Right-size staffing strategy based on student needs
Students’ mental health needs do not neatly fit into a 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday schedule, and nearly every counseling center experiences fluctuations in demand across the year. Yet most counseling centers operate with stagnant staff levels with limited budget to expand hours or hire more counselors. Beyond improving the efficiency of individual appointments and groups, explore larger opportunities, like outsourcing after-hours care or hiring contracted staff, to increase the efficiency your campus counseling center.
If this issue continues, please contact EAB Help at [email protected] for further assistance.
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