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Crisis intervention available free to all students through Counseling Center

Dr. Ellen Behrens, associate professor in the masters of science and mental health counseling program, leads her Clinical Assessment class in a discussion on Feb. 13. Dr. Behrens works at the Counseling Center once a week seeing clients and said she wants to remind people facing a crisis that there is hope and people who can help. (Photo by Courtney Cheney)

The Counseling Center, located in the basement level of Shaw Student Center in room L7, provides a crisis intervention hour each day. During this hour, generally occurring at 2 or 3 p.m., students can come to the center — no appointment necessary — and talk with a counselor.

Crisis intervention is when someone feels “overwhelmed” and beyond the “emotional capacity to cope” with whatever is going on in their lives, according to  Cory Shipp, an on-campus counselor.

“It may be due to a relationship break up, it may be due to a death in the family. Anything that the student feels is more than they are capable of handling,” Shipp said.

Shipp said that access to mental health services including crisis intervention is a free resource for all students at Westminster.

Dr. Ellen Behrens, associate professor and faculty in the masters of science and mental health program at Westminster, works at the Counseling Center once a week seeing clients. To those facing a crisis, she says that there is hope and there are people who want to help.

“When a person is in that position it is hard to imagine how to get out and hard to believe that anybody would really know how to be helpful,” Behrens said. “At the Counseling Center, we are trained, experienced and caring. We have resources, supports and ideas available that one might not have when they are in the middle of a crisis.”

Christine Sheehan, a sophomore at Westminster, said she isn’t certain what crisis intervention means, but that it sounds like an umbrella term.

“When I hear the term crisis counseling, I’d assume it mostly applies to immediate traumatic events that have happened to students on campus and the resources available to them,” Sheehan said.

For anyone facing a crisis and seeking help from the Counseling Center, Cory Shipp said that he wants them to know he recognizes what it takes to come through that door. He said it is a difficult thing to do and a sign of someone’s strength and resiliency.

“Part of what we want to do is instill hope,” Shipp said. “Don’t isolate. It’s okay to struggle, it really is. It’s okay to hit walls, we all do, let’s normalize this. We struggle, that’s part of what life is about. All of us at some time are going to get overwhelmed. At those times it can be helpful to talk to somebody. Sometimes that’s a friend, sometimes that a parent, a sibling, a professor or a counselor. Just whatever is going to be supportive for you.”

A counseling appointment can be made by calling (801) 832-2465.


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Courtney is a senior communication major who enjoys writing and editing. She is a member of Alpha Chi and currently resides on the committee. She spends her free time watching movies, hiking and dancing.

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