Outreach Coordinator's Handbook
Jeff E. Brooks-Harris, J. Judd Harbin, Laura W. Doto, Paulette M. Stronczek, & Bert H. Epstein
4. Motivating Staff to Engage in Outreach Activities
- Define what outreach means at your center. Will it include involvement on committees and task forces? Will it include developing flyers, brochures, or other passive educational materials about clinical services or issues? Will it include presenting workshops? Teaching? Marketing and publicity efforts?
- Link outreach to the mission of the counseling service at every opportunity--e.g., staff discussions or in-service materials. All outreach services market the counseling center to the campus and community to attract potential clients and consultees.
- Outreach also serves a preventive function inasmuch as educational efforts and interactive workshops help prevent psychological distress.
- Outreach also includes a consultative function when the outreach format is interactive (e.g., workshop attendees asking questions about issues or conducting referrals).
- Identify the issues and outreach activities that interest staff members; then, invite them to participate in outreach efforts related to those interests.
- Collaborate with staff to set individualized goals for the semester and for the year. Follow up once a month privately. Praise the achievements of each staff member in the past month at a staff meeting.
- Look at ways to administratively compensate staff for doing outreach or give time in schedules for outreach work. If the center requires X-number of presentations, offer breaks or discounts to members who give extra effort to other aspects of outreach.
- Create an outreach team to share the responsibility and to bolster enthusiasm. An outreach team can share ideas, set goals, and design and implement programs together.
- An outreach team can be formed within the counseling center or can be organized across campus.
- A campus-wide outreach team might include staff from the counseling center, wellness or health center, learning center, residence life, or student activities.
- Different members of this outreach team might have different areas of specialization such as personal growth, mental health, alcohol and drug education, sexual assault prevention, learning, etc.
- Take a serious look at staff resistance to outreach. Survey the staff as to what they do not like about the current outreach system. What improvements might they suggest?
- Consider administrative resistance to outreach. Some counseling center personnel believe that outreach exacerbates the dreaded wait-list problem for individual therapy. Two strategies to help deal with this are:
- Arrange for those coming to individual therapy to complete as part of their initial paperwork some information on how they heard of the counseling center or what caused them to come in at this time. Include "workshop or outreach presentation or advertising for a outreach" as a choice. If the percentage who check off this selection is low, then there is a good argument that this activity does not exacerbate the wait list problem.
- As part of the evaluation given at workshops/outreaches, consider adding an additional question: "Has going to this workshop/outreach decreased, increased, or not changed the need or likelihood that you might seek individual services at the counseling center?" Should the results of these evaluations show students endorsing the "decreased" or "not changed" options, then there is again more of argument that outreach does not cause increased congestion.
- Although one benefit of a presentation is exposure of a topic to students who are ambivalent about their difficulties in this area, this creates the increased possibility they may seek individual services. To avoid this problem, outreach design can strive to present material such that participants have the tools and resources to help themselves, preventing their need for individual counseling.
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