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Psychological Services will be hiring a new psychotherapist as part of an effort to increase the maximum number of sessions available to students. Belinda Johnson, director of Psych Services, said the decision comes after — but does not directly result from — a report from the New England Association of Schools and Colleges that noted that Brown's pysch services was "relatively under-resourced" compared to peer schools'.

The need for a new position was already clear before the NEASC report was released, Johnson said, but the report "gave a particular push" to begin the hiring process.

The additional staff member will allow the University to increase the number of free Psych Services visits available to students each year to seven, up from the five students are currently offered.

Rising demand for sessions prompted discussions about the need for more resources, Johnson said. "Five sessions a year is not very much," she added.

One student who recently visited Psych Services, who asked that his name not be used, said he thought the limit on sessions made the service somewhat ineffective.

"I feel for therapy to work, it needs to be regular visits," he said. "Since there's a limit, it's difficult."

Students in need of more sessions usually ask for an outside referral after a few appointments with Psych Services, Johnson said.

Besides increasing the number of appointments available, Johnson said, the new position will "somewhat decrease the waiting period" for sessions. Students normally have to wait about a week for an appointment, she said, but about 25 percent of students have to wait longer.

Immediate appointments are always available to students in a crisis, said Margaret Klawunn, vice president for campus life and student services. "Those needs will always be met."

The student who spoke to The Herald said his waiting time for an appointment was just three days, and he was reassured that if he had an emergency, he could see a psychologist immediately.

In order to afford the new position, the University "reduced a couple of positions at Health Services and restructured the administration," Klawunn said.

Brown's psych services, noted the NEASC report, has fewer resources available than other peer institutions.

"Most (other institutions) have unlimited number of appointments or are offering more than we are," Klawunn said. But "we are making improvements as we can" — as evidenced by the new position, she said.

Interviews for the position will not begin until after winter break, Johnson said. Though it remains unclear when the new psychotherapist will be hired, she said she hopes the position can be filled as early as the middle of the spring semester.

Several students interviewed by The Herald were unaware that Psych Services restricted visits. Perry Ashenfelter '13 said that though she has not used Psych Services, she was surprised to hear they had a limitation on sessions. "It would probably deter people from going when they actually might need it," she said.

"To me that doesn't seem like a problem because the point is to know whether you want to continue therapy," Vince Sghiatti '13 said. "So if after seven sessions you still need therapy, it's probably good that you get a full-time psychologist."

Ashenfelter added that the addition of a new psychotherapist would "probably be helpful."
 


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