U counseling team helps students cope

by Anna Weggel

When there is a death or crisis at a University residence hall or apartment building, University counselors come to the scene.

The University’s Community Response Team serves the University community in cases involving death, emergency or difficult situations by providing students with free, on-the-scene counseling.

The team is made up of members from University Counseling and Consulting Services, Boynton Health Service, International Student and Scholar Services, University police, Housing and Residential Life, and the Interfaith Campus Coalition, said Glenn Hirsch, assistant director for University Counseling and Consulting Services.

“We respond as soon as we can,” Hirsch said.

He said the team waits to hear from police, residence halls or apartment buildings before coming to help.

“We really come in by invitation,” he said. “We don’t ever force our way into a setting or situation.”

Hirsch said the team consists of approximately 20 professionals trained in responding to trauma situations, but they could provide more help in case of a large emergency situation.

“We could come up with a pretty sizable group here,” he said.

Hirsch said the students who benefit from the counseling services vary from ones who simply feel a passing sadness to people who knew the student and are traumatized.

“Typical reactions are sadness, fear and anger,” he said.

Besides being a listening ear to students, counselors help them understand what a normal reaction to a similar event would be.

“Sometimes people react normally to an unnormal event and they think they’ve gone crazy,” he said.

Bob Seybold, head of the response team, noted that this semester has been particularly busy, with deaths at or near Riverbend Commons, Middlebrook Hall and University Village.

Middlebrook Hall Director Nancy Holmblad said the team came to help the hall’s students who were distressed about a resident’s suicide Wednesday.

“They were there in case we needed students to talk with a counselor,” she said. “They were definitely a very big help to us as we processed through the situation.”

Seybold said the deaths this semester were different circumstances and there’s no reason to believe they are a trend.

“Death is one of those things that compels us to stop business as usual and reflect on ‘What does this death mean to me?’ ” he said. “That’s what the group is trying to facilitate…”

Seybold said dealing with death can be especially difficult for young adults.

“Young adults are not inclined to be thinking about death much,” he said. “It’s often useful to just pause a little bit and take an inventory on how that affects them and integrate this into their awareness of reality and the meaning of life.”