Due to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, the Al-Rashid Health and Wellness Center’s Counseling Department has adapted their counseling sessions and resources to the virtual Winter Term.

Due to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, the Al-Rashid Health and Wellness Center’s Counseling Department has adapted its counseling sessions and resources to the virtual Winter Term. Despite this virtual setback, the team is still working to keep the counseling experience as thorough as possible to best support the student body.

Near the beginning of the Fall Term, Director of Counseling and Psychological Services Dee Apple sent out a letter outlining the counseling process. He shared how the Counseling Department has been continuing to fulfill its goal of “creating a safe, confidential, non-judgemental space where students can share any challenges or concerns they may be experiencing” throughout the first trimester, a process that he hopes to continue into the remote Winter Term.

Apple also explained the process behind an important aspect to the counseling program: requesting a consultation. Students can call or email him in order to arrange an appointment with one of the counselors. According to Apple, the Counseling Department offers both one-time sessions or sessions that meet on a regular basis, depending on the student’s needs.

Reflecting on the previous Spring Term, Staff Psychologist Stephanie Bunin shared the many challenges in adapting the counseling system to the online format. According to Bunin, the counseling team “had never done remote counseling before, [so] the team had to take lots of webinars on how to do remote counseling, and it had to come up with an informed consent form for the students and parents to be aware of technology and privacy issues.”

Nevertheless, the counseling team quickly adapted to the new platform, and hope to apply this winter what they have learned. “In the spring, we learned how to do [online sessions] and get better at [them], whereas eight or nine months ago, none of us were very good at doing that,” Apple said.

To better support Lawrentians this term, the Counseling Department has tried to promote their online counseling system through a new Haiku page, offering various resources, information sessions, and periodical surveys for the student body to take as a means of offering feedback for the counselors. Through these tools, Apple hopes to get a better sense of what the Counseling Department can continue to in order to to help the community during this challenging time while also “mak[ing] sure students can be as comfortable as possible during their sessions.”

Instead of using the standard Zoom platform, the counselors have been using Zoom for Healthcare during their sessions to provide an extra layer of security for students’ privacy. With these adjustments, Apple hopes to continue to forge secure and confidential relationships with students even when off-campus. Despite the challenges, Apple is proud of the virtual outreach the Counseling Department has been able to provide. “Many of our sister schools, for instance, Exeter and Choate, aren’t even allowed to see any students in counseling when they’re at home, so we’re glad to be able to continue doing the work that we can do,” Apple said.

“We want to be available to all of our students, so if someone needs our help, they should reach out,” Bunin commented. “We’re all going through the same type of struggles, but in very different ways, so I look forward to learning everyone’s different stories and seeing how I can help to support you all.”

Looking forward, the counseling team encourages students to reach out whenever they need. “I know we can get through this. We just have to work together and take care of each other,” Apple said.

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