September 13, 2017 | Hannah Ebeling


The Stepped Care Model is a new initiative the center for counseling and wellness kicked off in spring 2017.

The Broene Counseling Center is now the J. Broene Center for Counseling and Wellness. Utilizing a new Stepped Care Model, the counseling center now offers online tools, telecounseling, workshops, seminars, and other expanded resources. We sat down with Irene Kraegel, director, to hear more about these changes and learn why one out of five Calvin students utilizes these services each year.

What prompted changing the name of the center?

Our center has an increased focus on general mental wellness, and we wanted our name to reflect this shift.  Under the new Stepped Care Model, students can access a wide variety of resources beyond counseling.  We are working to support increased mental wellness for students across campus, whether or not they seek out counseling – supporting the wellbeing of the whole student and recognizing that our work goes far beyond the walls of a counselor’s office. We chose this name in an attempt to reflect that.  This shift is also reflected in our [center's] new mission statement, which states “The Center for Counseling and Wellness nurtures a campus culture of resilience, equipping students to grow and thrive emotionally as they engage wholeheartedly in God’s work of renewal in the world.”

What is the Stepped Care Model?

The Stepped Care Model is a new initiative that we kicked off at the beginning of spring 2017. We needed a new model because, like counseling centers all over the country, we have not been able to keep up with the demand. What we are finding is that more and more students are seeking out counseling. We see this as the effect of good stigma reduction. While this is positive, it means that our old model, which had students getting channeled into individual counseling almost automatically, was no longer able to respond to the demand. It also was not a very smart model in terms of customizing treatment for the students’ needs.

The Stepped Care Model adds a whole range of services at a lot of different levels. The idea is that all students start out with a screening to determine the student’s needs and goals. Based on the results of that screening, students are matched up with services that will be most helpful to them. Counselors may recommend a mixture of services, but it is always tailored to the student and up to them which services they will pursue.

Our approach to care is really holistic. We recognize that a student is flourishing when the rest of their life is healthy as well. So, sometimes our primary focus is connecting students with other services on campus like the career center, campus ministries and residence life. Some other steps include a peer listening program, self-help resources, emotional wellness workshops, problem-focused sessions, group therapy and individual therapy. The more likely a student is to self-advocate, the more likely it is we will refer them to lower steps.

Last semester when we changed to this model, we significantly increased the number of students we were seeing. We also saw a significant reduction in crisis care appointments. In the past, students had to wait two or three weeks to make an appointment, now we can usually get new students in the same day or next day.

What can students expect at their first appointment?

Students can expect to come half an hour early to complete paperwork. Students fill out a web-based electronic form on which they can include quite a bit of information on their background, reason for coming and goals for counseling. Their counselor reviews that information and then meets with a student for about 20 minutes. Together they talk about resources that are available. The student will be able to leave that screening appointment with a plan to get the support they need.

How can students set up an appointment?

To set up a screening, students can either come to the Center for Counseling and Wellness, call the office or fill out a form online. Our office is located on the third floor of the Spoelhof College Center, next to the Residence Life office. During the school year, appointments are available Monday through Friday between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. Quick-access screening appointments are available each day for new students, and crisis care is available for mental health emergencies.

Screening counselors will typically be the student’s connection throughout their time here, so they don’t have to worry about getting bounced around.

Irene Kraegel, director of the Center for Counseling and Wellness

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