Luther College Counseling Service adopts stepped-care model

Luther College Counseling Services (LCCS) has created a new resource delivery model this year, which has eliminated the need to have a waitlist for services. According to Meg Hammes, the Director of Counseling Services, the department took time to evaluate their past performance, as well as evaluating students’ wants and needs, to meet the demands for services this year.

LCCS offers a “menu” of services for students; they can participate in multiple types of mental health support, from peer based educational and support opportunities, online therapy assisted services, groups, workshops, and individual counseling sessions. This model was created in response to student requests regarding rapid access, and is designed to eliminate wait time for services.

When students first reach out to LCCS, they are required to fill out intake paperwork that can assist with determining what level of need is required at that moment. Once the paperwork is completed, the student will have a short meeting with a counselor to see what services would be the best match for them.

“It is important that students come into LCCS and complete this intake information,” Hammes said. “We are committed to supporting students in crisis or emergency situations and want to make sure we are there to support them. Students experiencing thoughts of suicide, thoughts of harming another, or have experienced recent trauma are prioritized and start to work with a counselor immediately.”

With the change in the new service delivery model, the LCCS has adopted a new “stepped care” model, which was developed at the Memorial University of Newfoundland. This model gives priority to rapid access to services and offers immediate solutions at the least restrictive degree of interference, while providing the highest level of student sovereignty.

“The aspect of the model which appealed to myself and the other counselors within LCCS, is the idea that students are the experts in their lives and we as mental health providers are there to support, guide, and challenge them, while using practice-based evidence,” Hammes said.

Along with the “stepped care” model, students now have access to peer based support. Support groups like NAMI and AMF are now available to students. Peer outreach workers, like Hannah Wollack (‘20), provide workshops and education across the Luther campus.

“We do self-care workshops, escalation workshops, how to help a friend workshops, and in the beginning of the year, we did a transition to college workshop,” Wollack said. “(We) just spread awareness of campus resources.”

Going forward, Meg Hammes would like to see the LCCS have a larger impact on campus, as well as the ability to better meet student needs with increased financial and staffing resources. But, at the moment, they do not have a waitlist, which is a positive indicator of the success of their change in delivery model.

“I think that people need to know that our process has been updated, that we have so many new resources and ways in which one can address their mental health concerns,” said LCCS Outreach Assistant Nora Nyi Myint (‘22), “I feel that the new model will work very well, and I am sure it will evolve as time goes on, to meet future critiques and expectations from Luther students.” 

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