Student Login

A new quick counselling session at NAIT supports the mental health of both students and staff members

By Admin User on December 9, 2020

The question of what ‘kind’ of person needs counselling is one way to decide if counselling is right for you. Sometimes people might feel like they don’t need counselling but still want to talk about personal concerns.

To allow relaxing their minds without counselling, NAIT has launched a new pilot program, ‘Ask a Psychologist’. It is a discussion-based open forum where staves and students can pop in to ask questions about personal mental health concerns and get answers and be on their way. I met Stefanie Guillard, the counselling administrator at NAIT, for more information about this new project.

What is the ‘Ask a Psychologist’ program that just launched on November 18th?

‘Ask psychologist’ is a pilot project that we made for both students and staff to have an opportunity to ask a psychologist some questions that maybe they have that they wouldn’t want necessarily away from somebody else for an appointment. So, we have a lot of curiosity about counselling- they might have a quick question that maybe so students could have popped into the front of the counselling centre when we were open, and they could have asked those questions. But now, we’re finding that we want to make a space so that they have those answers. It’s kind of a new idea and we hope that both students and staff can use this opportunity freely- we’ve left it very open; we don’t limit the number of questions. Also, it doesn’t even have to be about yourself, you can always ask your friends’ concerns as well.

Who is the psychologist in this program?

It’s Dr. Tanya Spencer. She is the team lead of the NAIT’s counselling team.

Is there any other counselling team member joining the meeting?

For now, it is mostly going to be Tanya. If she can’t make it for some reason, then another counsellor will come to replace her.

Why made another counselling program when there is already a counselling program existing?

The one-on-one counselling program is tailored very much to the individual, and part of the appointment is looking at what that person’s life is, any stress might encounter, and then asking them personal questions, and then asking them personal questions about their feelings; it’s more of asking those targeted questions. In ‘Ask a psychologist’, we intend that the student comes in with maybe a question or two, and it’s more like a discussion for general topics. So, a lot of the topics we deal with are stress, anxiety, depression; these are the top three. We expect students to come in and think like, ‘I just don’t know what to do, I’m feeling stressed’, then the counsellor can generally talk about that topic, not asking about the personal life of everybody. Tanya would sort of talk and make comments, so it is more informal.

Why do some students feel like they are taking away other students’ appointment space?

It’s actually a common issue across the board in mental health, where sometimes students feel like they need help, but they’re not bad enough, so it’s almost like a mental state where they think, ‘I’m not that bad, maybe another student whose worse than me can use that spot’. So, at a certain point, they might delay going to seek help until they get to a crisis point, thinking like ‘okay, I’m terrible now, and I am going to go’. So we want to encourage them to come before the crisis, and we want to encourage them that they can talk to Wednesday and talk to Tanya, even if they are unsure whether they need the counselling appointment or not. Tanya can answer that in a general way without diving too much into it because it is a public forum. Anybody can pop in and out, and Tanya is very well-versed; if three or four students come at the same time concerned about the stress, she’ll talk to the whole group and have the solution in general for everybody.

Is there a chance this program turning into a permanent one?

This is just a pilot program, for now, to see what the general interest is, and we are hoping that it starts to develop. We will have more frequently asked questions about what people are asking and what people can get out of it. So yes, we are hoping, but we are not sure. If it is useful, then we will definitely keep it.

What did you find interesting about the first meeting?

Tanya said several people popped in, mostly staff this time, who were very interested in meeting the psychologist, talking with the counselling team and seeing what we’re doing now. So we are hoping more students will come and feel more comfortable.

What if someone wants to have a private conversation?

We suggest booking a counselling appointment so that they can have space just for them.

You can visit NAITSA for more information about the ‘Ask a Psychologist’ program and sign in to the event every Wednesday. You can fill out the counselling contact form to book a one-on-one virtual or phone counselling. 



Follow Us!

Like Us On Facebook!