Survey of Consultation and Outreach in University Counseling Centers

Cassandra N. Nichols and Lauren M. Weitzman
(1998, August). Paper presented at the annual meeting of the American Psychological Association, San Francisco. Cassie Nichols is a psychologist at Washington State University's Counseling and Testing Services. Lauren Weitzman is a psychologist at the University of Utah's University Counseling Center.

Top Ten Content Areas for Consultation / Outreach:
(Percentage of surveyed centers reporting that they provide this content area)

  1. Stress Management - 92.1%
  2. Eating Disorders - 90.6%
  3. Depression - 88.5%
  4. Anxiety - 84.2%
  5. Alcohol & Drug Prevention - 80.6%
  6. Communication Skills - 79.9%
  7. Sexual Victimization - 69.8%
  8. Critical Incident Stress Debriefing - 69.8%
  9. Grief & Loss - 69.8%
  10. Time Management - 67.6%

Detailed Results of Survey

The following descriptive data provides demographic information about the participants who completed the survey. One hundred forty-one surveys were returned and 139 of those surveys were "useable" (i.e., research participants indicated that their counseling center staff provided consultation and outreach services). In total, a 34.82% return rate of the submitted surveys were returned. The size of the universities from which the current data was drawn is as follows: Nine percent were from universities larger than 25, 000 students (9.2%), five percents were from universities between 20,000-214, 999 (5%), eight percent were from universities that were between 15,000-19,999 (7.8%), twelve percent were from universities that were between 10,000- 14,999 (12. 1 %), twenty percent were from universities that were between 5,000-9,999 (19.90/6), and forty-five percent were from universities that had less than 5,000 students (44.7%). The research participants consisted of coordinators of consultation/outreach services or counseling center directors and were in their positions at an average of 8 years (M-8.141, SD=6.9) and most were at the level of either Ph.D. or Ed.D. (72.8%). The average full-time, staff size of the participating counseling centers was about five (M=5.39, SD=5.28). As a whole, research participants reported that the average amount of time their staff spent on consultation was seven hours (M=7.41, SD=5.37) and about nine hours for outreach activities (M=8.98, 6.55).

Research participants indicated that the top 10 content areas addressed in consultation and/or outreach was as follows: stress management (92. 1 %), eating disorders (90.6%), depression (88.5%), anxiety (84.2%), alcohol and drug prevention (80.6%), communication skills (79.9%), sexual victimization (79.9%), critical incident stress debriefing (69.8%), grief and loss concerns (69.8%) and time management (69.8%). The top 10 targets for such services (i.e., groups to which the counseling centers have provided consultation and/or outreach) was as follows: faculty (89.9%), staff (89.2%), first year orientation (89.2%), colleges/departments (82.7%), student athletes (79.9%), administration (74.8%), gay/lesbian/bisexual union (68.3%), disabled student services (68.3%), academic advising (67.6%), and peer educators (63.3%). The service delivery methods for these services tended to be based mostly upon educational workshops (93.5%), crisis intervention (92.8%), and brochures (91.4%). Providers of consultation and/outreach services primarily tended to be senior staff members (97. 1 %). Evaluation of services were based more on informal measures than formal measures: informal verbal feedback (91.3%), future requests for services (77.3%), client/participant evaluation form (68. 1 %), future referrals from clients/participants (53.6%), assessment by service provider (29%), and formal assessment of change in target population (9.4%).

Analyses of the qualitative measures for assessing consultation/outreach service delivery models indicated that most counseling centers do not utilize structured programs or models. Most participants indicated that their institutions tended to be inviting at best with their service efforts and neutral at worst.

© Nichols, C.N. & Weitzman, L.M. (1998, August). Survey of Consultation and Outreach in University Counseling Centers. Presented at the annual meeting of the American Psychological Association, San Francisco.