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The Stepped Care Model is a nuanced and multi-tier system of programs that seeks to meet students where they are in the change process while promoting client autonomy and empowerment. The most-effective yet least-resource intensive intervention is offered first; care is only stepped up to the next level with evidence or prediction of program failure. Students are coached in the creation of connections within the university community that support ongoing thriving and belonging outside of the walls of the counseling center.

Goals of the Stepped Care Model at the Center for Counseling & Wellness include the following:

  • to provide timely student access to mental health care and education
  • to create nuanced, customized treatment plans in response to specific student needs
  • to utilize a strengths-based approach by supporting maximum client autonomy within treatment
  • to connect students effectively with other campus resources and supports
  • to incorporate technological resources in the support of student wellbeing
  • to increase short-term and group interactions with students, allowing for more students to be served by Counseling & Wellness clinicians

After instituting the Stepped Care Model in Spring 2017, the wait time for new clients at the Center for Counseling and Wellness decreased by 56%—the majority of new students are now scheduled within two business days. In addition, the number of crisis appointments decreased by 61%. Students report high satisfaction and learning outcomes under the Stepped Care Model, with opportunities to engage in mental wellness through a wide variety of resources and supports.

For more information regarding the Stepped Care Model, please contact director Dr. Irene Kraegel at or616-526-7016.