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Community therapists offer campus-wide services

While many students know about the Brandeis Counseling Center (BCC), they may not know about the new community therapists initiative. As part of the mission to bridge the gap that students may experience trying to seek services at the BCC, community therapists are accessible all around campus for informal drop-in sessions.

Joy von Steiger, Ph.D., has been the director of the BCC since 2017. She began her experience at Brandeis in 2007 when she served as a staff therapist, then stepped up to the role of senior associate director in 2014 before becoming director. “We have worked hard at the Brandeis Counseling Center to embody our vision statement,” wrote von Steiger to The Hoot.

The BCC’s mission aims to “promote success in educational and developmental experience and to facilitate individual and community wellness within the university,” according to the BCC website. “We are committed to a mission of multiculturalism, diversity, and inclusivity that seeks to better understand systems of oppression affecting the individual and the community. Through this work, we strive to promote positive social change and deep appreciation for the strengths represented cross culturally in our Brandeis Community.”

According to von Steiger, the community therapist model was piloted in the spring of 2018 “to reduce barriers to care and create the opportunity for students to have easily accessible support within their community.” Originally, two community therapists were at Gosman, Heller and the Intercultural Center and were “heavily utilized,” and so Brandeis invested in an expansion of the program for this semester.

Community therapists provide free, confidential mental health services at several locations around campus: the Heller School (Sucheta Thekkedam), Intercultural Center (Sucheta Thekkedam), North Quad (Julia Loewenthal), Massell Quad (Leah Benjamin), International Business School (Aileen Lee), Gosman (Carrie Eichmann), and two new community therapists starting at the Gender and Sexuality Center (Landen Motyka) and the Science Complex and North Quad (Pei-Ning Li).

“Community therapists can offer strategies to strengthen life and coping skills, insight and support, as well as information and connection to additional resources,” wrote von Steiger. They offer a combination of drop-in and scheduled appointments, along with groups and workshops.

Students will be asked to fill out a short consent form and survey at the time of the visit but will not need to register with the BCC to see the therapist. The community therapist can also help determine whether formal counseling would be useful for the student and assist in that process if necessary.
To find out more about the BCC and community therapists, visit https://www.brandeis.edu/counseling/services/community-therapists.html.

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