Therapy couch, meet Zoom: Our Counseling Center is adapting to remote sessions

Plus, recent outbreaks raise questions about student willingness to follow safety guidelines

Good morning, and happy Thursday. On this pre-pandemic date last year, Tenderfoot Bluegrass was performing at the weekly “Live It Up at the Manitou Springs Library” concert. (The Manitou Springs Library is currently offering curbside pickup services.)

Today, we explain how CC’s Counseling Center is holding virtual sessions and what those might look like in the fall. Also, we recap the discussions about whether or not higher-ed can trust students to follow COVID-19 guidelines when and if they return to campus.

➡️ICYMI: Yesterday, we recapped the results from our survey of Colorado College staff members.

Infographic by Colorado College students Rana Abdu, Aleesa Chua, Sara Dixon, Jia Mei, and Lindsey Smith.

Counseling Center appointments have increased during the pandemic, director Bill Dove says

On Monday, The CC COVID-19 Reporting Project Zoomed with Bill Dove, clinical psychologist and the director of the Colorado College Counseling Center. Dove, who has worked at the Counseling Center for over 25 years, told us about how it has adapted to serve pandemic needs and what counseling sessions might look like in the fall.

👨🏻‍💻 How the Counseling Center transitioned to remote sessions 

In two words, the transition was “incomprehensible madness,” Dove says.

In two weeks, the Counseling Center had to adjust the Boettcher phones to forward to the counselors’ cell phones, learn how to conduct counseling sessions over Zoom in compliance with federal healthcare privacy laws, and develop new systems to receive paperwork from students, according to Dove. One new counselor had just started in March before the transition to distance-learning: “Bad timing for her,” Dove says.

When students left campus mid-March, the Counseling Center started with a lot of phone counseling, and now they mostly hold video sessions, including on WebEx and Zoom. During the transition to distance-learning, Colorado College waived the fees for all counseling sessions.

“I expect that will probably change a little bit when the new year starts,” Dove says, “but we’re not charging for anything currently.”

☀️ What counseling sessions are like over the summer

“As far as we know, we’ve had an increase — but not a dramatic increase — in the number of requests over the summer,” Dove says. In part, Dove thinks this is because the counselors are all working remotely, making it easier for students living off-campus during the summer to schedule appointments. 

For the summer, the Counseling Center has kept on some of the counselors who work part-time by the hour, something Dove says it doesn’t normally do. The center also hired another new part-time counselor who is a fluent Mandarin speaker.

“And our psychiatrist and nurse practitioner are continuing to work remotely,” Dove says. “Mostly we’re just renewing medications now.”

🌳 How to improve mental health outside of counseling sessions 

In addition to formal counseling sessions, Dove recommends that people try to spend time outdoors and remain physically active. 

The transition to a more socially isolated daily life could be impacting some people’s mental health during the pandemic. Dove stresses that it’s important to check in with friends, as everyone has different needs right now. 

“People are just different that way,” he adds. “But most people have a relatively high social need that’s not being met.” 

🏪 What counseling services at CC might look like in the fall 

Coronavirus-related medical services will likely take over the entire Boettcher Health Center Building, so the counselors are planning to continue working remotely when campus reopens. Some meetings may still take place in person, but in general there “isn’t a lot of certainty” about how campus will reopen, Dove says. 

💵In the fall, the Counseling Center will at least continue to offer six free sessions before students have to pay.

Counseling Center staff will also work with RAs during their training and will be available during NSO for new students. 

Counselors are currently taking remote appointments. To get in touch with someone at the Counseling Center call 719-389-6093 or email counselingcenter@coloradocollege.edu

Rising COVID-19 cases among young adults raise questions about student behavior on campus 

🍻 COVID-19 cases on the rise among younger adults. What is to blame?

Colorado: As of June 24, 40% of Colorado’s COVID-19 cases in the past 25 days were attributed to people under 30, reported The Colorado Sun. In particular, journalists have trained their eyes on Boulder, where officials say 181 students have tested positive for the coronavirus since June 5, with the majority getting infected at social gatherings. Boulder city officials deemed 12 residences, three of which are frat houses at the University of Colorado at Boulder, to be “chronic violators” of the health order and have threatened failure to comply “could result in revocation of rental licenses.” In Telluride, a social gathering reportedly could have exposed up to 36 young adults to the coronavirus.

Florida: A popular bar near the University of Central Florida has temporarily lost its liquor license after officials linked over 150 COVID-19 cases to 13 employees and 28 customers who spent time there since restaurants in Florida were allowed to reopen at 50% capacity on May 18. One person who attended a birthday party at Knight’s Pub and later tested positive told CNN that the bar was crowded and no one was wearing a mask when she was there. 

South Carolina: As of June 21, the University of South Carolina in Columbia has had 204 student cases since March, and the number is still rising rapidly; after 79 new coronavirus cases popped up in eight days, president Robert L. Caslen is pointing to student gatherings in nearby bars and neighborhoods as the potential cause. (A correspondent for the CCCRP is a former resident of those “nearby bars and neighborhoods” and reports he is glad to currently reside in Colorado.) Near Clemson University, two bars closed after an employee tested positive for COVID-19, and after Clemson reopened its campus to student-athletes in early June, 23 football players have tested positive.

Michigan: As of June 27, roughly 85 COVID-19 cases in East Lansing can be traced back to Harper’s Restaurant and Brew Pub, near the Michigan State University campus. So far, all of the positive cases are individuals between ages 19 and 23, and about half of them have connections to the university. At least two additional cases have been reported in individuals who did not visit the restaurant but had contact with someone who did. 

👩🏻‍⚖️ How colleges and universities are attempting to enforce coronavirus guidelines

As coronavirus cases rise among student populations, some administrators are revising their fall semester plans to include safety pledges or contracts with coronavirus guidelines, which students will need to sign before returning to campus. The University of Colorado at Boulder is taking it one step further, saying the university will take disciplinary action, which could include probation or suspension in extreme cases, against students who do not comply with its COVID-19 Health and Safety Policy

🤒 Why some faculty think reopening campuses might make an outbreak inevitable

“Expecting students to play it safe if colleges reopen is a fantasy,” headlined a recent opinion article in The New York Times. Laurence Steinberg, the article’s author and a psychology professor at Temple University, writes that college students are of an age when they struggle more to have self-control and are more likely to take significant risks — and he’s not the only one who believes college students can’t be trusted to follow coronavirus guidelines. Others argue adults in their 20s and 30s are more likely to go out to socialize, or that young adults are less concerned about getting infected and passing it on to an older population. Some say that college students might not be getting enough credit because many work summer jobs in essential businesses, such as grocery stores, and could be exposed to COVID-19 at work. Meanwhile, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will try to share messages about the coronavirus with a younger population through (wait for it…) TikTok

About the CC COVID-19 Reporting Project

The CC COVID-19 Reporting Project is a student-faculty collaboration by Colorado College student journalists Miriam Brown and Arielle Gordon, Visiting Assistant Professor of Journalism Corey Hutchins, Assistant Professor of English Najnin Islam, and Journalism Institute Director Steven Hayward. Work by Phoebe Lostroh, Associate Professor of Molecular Biology at CC and National Science Foundation Program Director in Genetic Mechanisms, Molecular and Cellular Biosciences, will appear from time to time, as will infographics by Colorado College students Rana Abdu, Aleesa Chua, Sara Dixon, Jia Mei, and Lindsey Smith.

The project seeks to provide frequent updates about CC and other higher education institutions during the pandemic by providing original reporting, analysis, interviews with campus leaders, and context about what state and national headlines mean for the CC community. 

📬 Enter your email address to subscribe and get the newsletter in your inbox each time it comes out. You can reach us with questions, feedback, or news tips by emailing ccreportingproject@gmail.com.