The Capital Times newspaper on Feb. 22 utilized the expertise of UW–Madison’s Stephanie Graham for a report headlined, “College students and mental health counselors in Madison adapt to pandemic needs.”
Graham is the director of the Counseling Psychology Training Clinic (CPTC) and is a clinical professor with the School of Education’s Department of Counseling Psychology. The CPTC is staffed by graduate students in the Department of Counseling Psychology’s master’s and doctoral programs who are supervised by licensed psychologists.
The Capital Times report begins: “When the University of Wisconsin-Madison first switched to virtual learning in March, the Counseling Psychology Training Clinic had no experience offering telehealth services. Its staff quickly scrambled to find ways to continue care, acquire the proper technology and maintain patient privacy through video counseling. Fourteen graduate trainees currently serve as counselors at the clinic, which serves both students and Dane County community members.”
The report continues: “At the time, newer students were just figuring out how to do therapy face-to-face, and director Stephanie Graham wanted to give her staff time to adjust. Graham temporarily limited patient interactions to supervisors and more experienced trainees — not only to better acquaint clients, but to accommodate students also in the midst of abrupt academic and personal changes.”
“This is one of the only times in my career that everybody is experiencing the same thing at the same time: supervisors, the director of the clinic, clinicians, clients,” Graham tells the newspaper. “You may lose a parent and I may have lost a parent, but we’re not experiencing that grief at the exact same time. It is a unique situation, and so that needs to be recognized that mental health professionals are experiencing what their clients are experiencing.”
The Cap Times report continues: “One year into the COVID-19 pandemic, Graham and college counselors across Madison are much more adjusted to offering services through a computer screen. At CPTC, counselors can borrow laptops or technology and work in isolated rooms, and Graham uses a digital platform to supervise trainees as she would in person. Graduate students, who previously only learned how to counsel clients face-to-face, now watch webinars and training videos to offer virtual services.”
In addition to Graham, The Capital Times also interviewed Anna Kawennison Fetter — a fifth-year doctoral candidate with the training clinic. Fetter says she misses the “healing power” of sitting in someone’s physical presence, but she added that she has always been interested in telehealth. Especially as a Native American, Fetter said she enjoys seeing the benefits of added access and flexibility.
“I really believe in the healing power of sitting with someone and to be in someone’s presence and really value that. I certainly missed it a lot at the beginning,” Fetter tells The Capital Times. “But I’m interested in providing services to my communities and rural communities and folks who don’t have access necessarily to in-person services.”
To learn much more about this important, nuanced topic check out the full report from The Capital Times here.