Q&A WITH BRAD WOLGAST
Director of Center for Counseling & Student Development
Q: Where did you come from?
A: After finishing my doctorate at Temple University, and working at the University of Pennsylvania’s Counseling and Psychological Services for nine years, I came to the University of Delaware in 2008. I’ve been at CCSD since then serving as our national internship coordinator, Assistant and Associate Director before taking over the Director role. I love being a Blue Hen!
Q: What made you want to come to UD?
A: The world of psychologists in college counseling is a small one, and I had heard many great things about the Center for Counseling and Student Development from friends and trainees who came from here. The comments were that this is a place that respects the students and tries to engage students to be better at being themselves. It was also clear that UD is a place that has respect for its counseling center, which is very important to being able to get the work done.
Q: Students sometimes exhibit a lot of stress and share that with their instructors. What should an instructor do if they suspect a student in their class is experiencing extreme stress?
A: When this happens, we encourage any instructor to let the student know about our services. Instructors can show the student our website while sitting together and discuss calling for an appointment 302-831-2141. When dealing with a student who is in crisis, we recommend calling our office together to discuss the situation with one of our clinical staff. Sometimes, we will recommend that the student walk over for a same day appointment. At times, an instructor may walk the student over him or herself to make the transition easier for the student. If such things happen after our center is closed for the day, the student or instructor can call our Helpline at 302-831-1001. These calls are received by trained counselors we retain to assist us especially after hours. These counselors send messages to our staff later regarding the call so that our center is aware of the student who calls.
Q: What role can faculty play in supporting students under challenging circumstances?
A: Some students have on-going circumstances that are challenging. Instructors ought to feel free to lend an ear when it feels appropriate. We like to encourage instructors to be thoughtful about when the role of teaching or being a faculty member becomes burdened by being a listener. When that time approaches, it is time to ask the student to utilize other resources for help. Our center is the first place instructors should consider. That doesn’t mean instructors shouldn’t take the time to listen to students, they should. But when the job of teaching becomes overwhelmed by the job of listening to students, it’s probably time to ask the student to widen their circle of support. We have a faculty guide on our website that gives more discussion to this topic at: http://sites.udel.edu/counseling/faculty/
Q: What resources should faculty make their students aware of?
A: One of the best-kept secrets of our center is how active and meaningful our group therapy program is. The students who attend our groups have some of the highest ratings of their growth and development of any of our work (here or anywhere, the research shows). Our groups mostly start a few weeks after the semesters begin and run about ten weeks each. Some of our groups start later in the semester and can be joined later.
Most students know about our Helpline, 302-831-1001, but many do not. This is a 24 hour service for students of UD to speak with a counselor anytime they are feeling overwhelmed or in crisis. Because those callers are often encouraged to follow up by meeting with someone at CCSD, it has helped us meet more students than we were able to previously.