On Feb. 7, counselor Eunie Alsaker and graduate student Emily Peterson hosted a Wellness Wednesday session focused on qualities of healthy relationships in the Integrated Wellness Complex.
Emily Peterson, a graduate student studying counselor education and clinical mental health counseling, led the interactive session. She started by asking students to share in groups what they thought of when she said specific key phrases, like “healthy relationship,” “unhealthy relationship,” or “toxic relationship.”
“It was an area I wanted more information on as well. As a counselor for college students, relationships come up quite a bit,” Peterson said. “It was an area of interest for me and a great opportunity to work with The Well.”
Peterson focused on the spectrum of healthy, unhealthy and toxic relationships, showing students the differences in each type. She did caution students that when you self-diagnose their own relationship they should not do it based solely on a few characteristics.
“Just because your relationship has some of these bad qualities doesn’t mean that the whole relationship is unhealthy, and there are ways to repair it,” Peterson said. “There’s tons of help out there for people in toxic or abusive relationships, and plenty of people who want to make sure you’re okay.”
Students filled The Well, sitting at the table, on couches and on the floor. All who came received four sheets of resources from the Winona State Counseling Center and Loveisrespect.org, a site devoted to empowering youth to prevent and end dating abuse. Though this session focused mainly on romantic relationships, things like the Power and Control Wheel, tips on better communication, Equality Wheel and tips on assertiveness could apply to any type of relationship.
“I went because it was a topic of interest for me not only with romantic partners, but relationships with friends and family as well,” Taylor Streeter, a junior psychology major, said. “When we were there I enjoyed the take home resources they gave to us, being able to retain the knowledge that was taught is one thing, but they also gave us papers we can refer back to throughout our lifetime.”
While this session focused on the emotional dimension of wellness, most understand that mental and physical health are connected with healthy relationships as well.
“It definitely had a positive effect on me. I can now recognize the signs of an unhealthy relationship and be able to try to make it better,” Streeter said. “By improving my overall social health will also affect my mental and physical health too.”
While most of Peterson’s printed resources came from Loveisrespect.org, she also recommends other resources as well. The Trevor Project can be especially powerful for LGBTQ youth, and the public library in Winona has an entire section devoted to love and relationships. Peterson also recommends everyone, no matter their relationship status, takes the The Five Love Languages test in order to find out how love is best communicated to them, as well as The Five Languages of Apology.
“If someone is struggling with a relationship in their life, the counseling center is such a great resource for students here,” Peterson said. “It’s a great venue, especially for students who aren’t necessarily going in for a long-term plan.”