Fifty percent of students use Metcalf House’s counseling services at Vassar during their time here. The counseling services’ website explains Metcalf’s role as one of providing students support amidst the challenging realities of academia and friendships. The site said, “Counselors help students resolve concerns about their personal, academic, and social development.” Metcalf also houses a variety of administrative offices. It supplies many services, Metcalf’s new director, Dr. Wendy Freedman, said via emailed statement. “[Metcalf] houses many offices including the Counseling Service, Office of Health Education, Office of Accessibility and Educational Opportunity, and the Affirmative Action and Equal Opportunity Office.”
Metcalf is open Monday through Friday for students to utilize their services by appointment. “It is a critical role of a counseling service to not only meet the needs of students seeking services, but to actively recognize underserved students and to make the counseling service a safe and accessible resource for these students” indicates the website.
Counseling is open and available free of charge to anyone who needs it.
Freedman echoed this sentiment, noting “The counselors are dedicated to working with traditionally underrepresented and marginalized groups, from ethnic and racial minorities, first generation students and students from working class backgrounds, LGBTQIA students, students of different religious backgrounds, and students with disabilities.”
Metcalf House hopes to cater to each student’s needs. Before meeting with a counselor, Metcalf asks that a general information form be filled out in order to properly assess the need of the student.
Based on the information provided in the description of their services, they offer “short-term individual and group counseling, referrals, outreach programming, campus trainings and workshops, consultation, crisis intervention, and short-term psychiatric medication services.”
Freedman explained in an emailed statement, “We believe that it is critical for the counseling service to be proactive in partnering with students and serving as allies and advocates as appropriate.”
Metcalf does not need to be the only resource for students who need help on campus, however. If one knows someone who may need help, Freedman offered some information about how to help them.
Freedman advised, “Involve yourself only as much as you are willing or comfortable. At times, in an attempt to reach or help a troubled friend, you may become more involved than time or skill permits. It is important to know your boundaries and limitations and to know when to reach out for help.”
If one wants to begin a conversation with a friend whom one is worried about, one should be willing to do so in an outspoken way. Freedman wrote, “Be honest and specific, describe your observations, express your feelings, offer your recommendations.” Starting this dialogue means you should be willing to commit time to help them; however, if you begin to feel uncomfortable in any way, Dr. Freedman said, “If you are not comfortable talking with your friend directly or your friend is unwilling to follow your recommendations, it is important that you reach out for help yourself. You can call the Counseling Service for a consult or write to the Student of Concern team so that others can offer support to your friend.”
Metcalf has many different forms of individualized services that are defined on their website.
“Short-term counseling allows the student to work on immediate concerns and, typically, come to a resolution,” it reads. For immediate crisis intervention, Metcalf has a Counselor-on-call 24/7. In addition, according to the website, the staff at VCCS is available to all members of the Vassar community for consultation about issues that concern the lives of students.
Group counseling is offered as well. Their website notes, “Support groups provide a forum where students who share a common identity or concern can meet to discuss experiences and support one another. Therapy groups provide an opportunity for small groups of students to meet under the guidance of one or two counselors.”
Metcalf’s site also states, “If you require services beyond the scope of what we can provide, we will refer you to other resources within the community.”
Metcalf hopes to support to the Vassar community as well as keep it informed. “Workshops and presentations on a wide range of topics related to mental health, wellness, and student life are available throughout the year based on staff availability.”
Dr. Freedman concluded, “We are committed to maintaining a counseling service that continually challenges itself to face its own biases and blind spots, to wrestle with the many complexities of identity, to consider how to better serve students in need, and to work towards inclusion and respect.”