Letter to the Editor

UCC doors remain wide open

I thought it was important to reply to The Hatchet’s Jan. 11 article entitled “Counseling Center changes policy.” The article implies that there is a new policy in place at the University Counseling Center, and that the only way to be seen for initial assessment is via the phone. But both statements are not true.

The phone system has been successfully operating for the past two years. An ever-growing number of colleges and universities across the country are shifting their initial consultation services to a telephone triage system, like the one utilized by the UCC. Initial consultations, whether by phone or in person, remain free to GW students. UCC has continued to remain flexible in allowing any student who is uncomfortable with the telephone system to come for an initial session on site.

The telephone triage system allows for swift response to student need – often the same day, and certainly no later than 24 hours – and thus, enables initial face-to-face student contact quickly. Before implementing this triage system, the UCC consulted with the centers at Cornell and Columbia universities, who presented that students have expressed high satisfaction with the rapid response to concerns. There have been very few complaints about use of the telephone as the initial assessment of student needs since its inception at GW.

Similar to triage utilized in most medical centers and hospitals for physical care, a telephone triage system also has the advantage of rapidly determining the level of urgency of a presenting problem. Through initial screening within 24 hours, the UCC can provide the appropriate level of treatment. However, any student who expresses an urgent need for assessment is still seen immediately face-to-face by our on-site staff members who operate throughout the business day and are available for after-hour emergencies.

Another advantage of the new system is that it has streamlined the counselor assignment process. It is usually the same counselor who provides the triage and counseling. When students come in to the Center, they already have established a relationship with a counselor.

John Dages, Ph.D., the writer is the director of the University Counseling Center.

The Hatchet has disabled comments on our website. Learn more.