Counseling and Wellness Services update


Brielle McLearen

As the semester begins, some students may find themselves on a waitlist for counseling services. Fellow councilor and Director of Winona State’s Counseling and Wellness Services explains that this issue is common at many universities.

Lillianna Van De Walker, Features Reporter

Kateri Johnson, one of Winona State University’s licensed professional clinical counselors and the Director of Winona State’s Counseling and Wellness Services, shared an update on the current state of openings for students. Johnson stated that there is currently no waitlist as it is the beginning of the semester. 

“Typical semesters start with a lot of openings and students can get in fairly quickly,” Johnson said.

Despite there being openings for students to speak with a licensed counselor fairly close to when they request a meeting currently, it will be no surprise to the Winona State Counseling and Wellness Services staff if a waiting list begins forming soon.

“As the semester continues, we will get more requests for counseling and each counselor will have a bigger caseload from the students they began seeing in the beginning weeks, so it will create a longer wait for an appointment,” Johnson said. “Sometimes two to three weeks, depending on the students’ schedules. If they have limited availability, they will have to wait longer. Most semesters, by the last weeks of classes, we don’t have any openings for new students making requests which results in a cancellation list. This means we get students’ availability and add them to a list.”

In past years, this has also been an issue. Johnson also shared how this is not an issue exclusive to Winona State and that other universities also face the complications surrounding budgeting for counseling positions.

“We currently have five counselors, myself, I have a smaller caseload, and two wonderful counseling interns who are graduate students completing this requirement for graduation who are under the supervision of a licensed counselor,” Johnson said. “We could absolutely use another counselor or two, but unfortunately, the University does not have the budget for these additional positions. Many college counseling centers are in a similar situation and most have long wait times so we are not unique in this, but we are continuously evaluating how we can improve and avoid a cancellation list.”

If students are unable to get scheduled and put on the waiting list, there are other actions that Counseling Services takes to get students the help they need as soon as possible.

“As counselors have cancellations, students who have availability that matches the open time are contacted,” Johnson said. “After the semester ends, those students are also contacted and we invite them to schedule with us the next semester or winter or summer break if they are in Winona.” 

A first-year education major at Winona State, Jacob Heftman, shared his experience of scheduling an appointment at the end of last semester with Counseling Services. 

“I emailed counseling services and told them what I was going through and they told me that I could maybe get in in about a week,” Heftman said. “Then I spoke to my RA and he told me that because of the seriousness of the situation, I could probably get in sooner. I ended up getting in pretty soon because I got one of the only open spots.”

Heftman described how the staff at Counseling Services handled getting him seen even with it being the end of the semester.

“It was busy, they said I was one of the last spots they had open for the first appointment I scheduled but after that there was only a few spots, they were flexible when they needed to be,” Heftman said. “They handled it well with how busy they were.”

For any student struggling who thinks they need to speak with a professional, send a message to Winona State’s Counseling and Wellness Services through [email protected]. If you are unable to connect with someone right away, check out last week’s article by Elly Herrick about tips for students coping with stress in college.