Counseling conference for Big Ten universities comes to Iowa City


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Counseling on campus is about collaboration, officials say, and the University of Iowa is poised to do just that with officials from other Big Ten university counseling services this week.

Counseling officials from most Big Ten universities will meet in Iowa City for an annual conference to exchange and share ideas for improving the quality of care.

The conference, “The Heart and Soul of College Counseling: Reflections on Our Core Values,” will feature a keynote by UI psychologist Scott Liu.

The keynote will focus on “multicultural component development.” The topic fits with the university counseling service’s efforts to sustain focus on multicultural organizational development.

“We’re all really excited about having him give the talk,” said Sam Cochran, the director of the counseling service.

The conference starts today and goes through Friday.

UI counseling officials have been planning the conference for the past year, Cochran said. He hopes that it can help generate new ideas and address concerns on campuses.

“We get together to present programs and find the best ways to deal with similar issues,” he said.

Many of the Big Ten schools will be in attendance.

“Some of the eastern schools can’t make it out, but we have a good showing,” Staley said. “It’s a very popular conference, and a lot of people attend. I would estimate about 150."

Staley is eager for the conference as well.

“It brings exciting new ideas for counseling services,” she said.

These ideas cover four main aspects: new information in clinical services, new information about work in outreach, new ideas for trainings, and new ideas in research.

The conference will feature a number of unique events, including an all-level yoga class Thursday morning and number of speeches by UI professionals, including Staley.

“It keeps us alive and helps bring new ideas,” she said.

The UI counseling service recently saw a spike in use. According to their 2011-12 annual report, officials saw 1,779 students in 2,727 consultation visits — 4 and 5 percent increases, respectively.
However, things seem to be slowing down now.

“It’s pretty much leveled off,” said Kathleen Staley, assistant director for outreach at the counseling service. “But we still do a lot of outreach. We work with a lot of different groups on campus. It’s a priority to be helpful.”

According to the annual report, counseling officials listed acquiring additional space at Westlawn and collaborating with Student Health Service as part of their strategic plan for the current school year.

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