Promoting Student Well-being
The Women’s Center has long been known as an approachable place for students and others in the UVA community to seek counseling. Over the past year, our Counseling and Wellness Services Team has grown to include new staff members and has extended the resources offered to better serve the variety of needs at the University. The team’s newest member, Uriel Santiago, joined the Center’s staff this spring to bring special expertise and experience in the role of cultural, racial, gender, and sexual identity in mental health. Uriel’s training and experience with youth and young adults, as well as his ability to offer sessions in English, Spanish, and German make him an especially good fit for this role.
Other extensions of our Counseling and Wellness Services this year include the addition of Poe, our trained therapy dog, and preparations for a new resiliency and wellness initiative to connect students to suitable services in the local community. Poe has drop-in office hours that make it easy for students to enjoy his grounding presence, and to learn about the other resources we offer while they are here. Poe also supports our counselors’ work with some of their clients. The forthcoming resiliency and wellness initiative will be aimed at bridging the gap between counseling services offered here and services offered in the local community. Our team is planning to use this initiative to give those students for whom it is appropriate and helpful a guided entry into the kind of care settings that can continue to support them after graduation. This effort will also serve to minimize delays between students’ requests for services and the start of their sessions.
University funding and donor funding have come together to make these enhancements of our Counseling and Wellness Services possible. We are grateful for these investments in our work. UVA administration in its various forms, joined by faculty members across Grounds, understands that investment to be well-placed. Supporting student well-being helps ensure that their brief time at UVA is as rewarding as it can be.
More about Our Counseling Approach
The Women’s Center provides free, confidential counseling to help men and women from all backgrounds, ethnicities, and identities to address concerns such as sexual assault, interpersonal violence, anxiety, depression, relationship concerns, stress, grief, body image, and substance abuse. In addition to providing the highest quality of counseling services to their clients, our counseling team collaborates with many offices around Grounds to support a variety of health and safety efforts. They also extend their expertise around Grounds through varied wellness- education and outreach events.
For many clients, our unique approach, expertise, and accessibility make the Women’s Center an especially good fit. Our counselors help clients gain a powerful sense of autonomy by identifying the change that is important to them and working to make that change happen. Counselors here are also known for their extensive expertise supporting college students with concerns ranging from the stresses of young adulthood to traumatic events in their lives or within their families or communities.
Our location is easy to reach. The environment here is both homey and scholarly, but never institutional. Clients can continue to see their counselor here over a period of time to meet their goals. We understand that there are many reasons that students stay in Charlottesville year-round (like jobs, rent, or research opportunities). We offer counseling sessions throughout the summer months ensuring that our clients’ access to this essential service is not interrupted. Students can also continue with counseling here if they need to take a semester off from their studies to focus on healing from trauma.
- Case Management: At the Women’s Center, staff members who are well-versed in all of the vital resources on and off Grounds take the time that is needed to connect students to the services that are right for them. We also take the lead in connecting case managers in higher education settings across Virginia to each other to develop this specialty in the counseling profession.
- Support Group for Survivors of Sexual Assault: In addition to counseling individual clients, our counselors lead a confidential group that meets in a safe environment to support one another while recovering from the physical, emotional, spiritual and social effects of trauma on survivors.
- “The Body Project”: Professional staff, along with the center’s Body Positive interns, lead discussion events for various groups around Grounds to reduce common risk factors for disordered eating and exercise in young adults. Check our calendar page for upcoming sessions.
- Presentations, Toolkits & Tips: After years of work with UVA students, we have come to know the stresses associated with each phase of the school year. Our staff’s group presentations and the popular tips series on the Women’s Center’s website offer seasonal suggestions to improve students’ well-being throughout the academic, extracurricular and social cycles of the year at UVA.
- “Room to Breathe”: This calming space is open for students’ use in times when a little peace and quiet can help restore equilibrium.
- Survivor Support Network Training: We train students, faculty and staff to be effective allies to survivors of gender violence. Trainees learn to understand survivors’ needs and to encourage and support survivors in their recovery from trauma. Check our calendar page for upcoming trainings.
- Confidential Advocates: Select members of the Women’s Center’s staff are available (in addition to the counselors) to further ensure that sexual assault survivors receive the full range of support and services they need.
- Screenings for Healthy Relationships, Mental Wellness or Eating Disorders: Expert staff members from the Women’s Center partner with UVA Student Health’s Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) to host easy-access screening days on which students can get a mental wellness check-up or seek information to inform a decision about accessing counseling services on a regular basis. Check our calendar page for upcoming screenings.