Counselling Services’ walk-in counselling, which first became available fall 2016, is expanding to better accommodate students. New changes include offering walk-in services on Thursdays in addition to Wednesdays, and implementing an intake specialist in order to reduce wait times.
“Over the fall term we were able to gather some data, and we were able to see 140 students in that time,” said Cheri Bilitz, associate director of Counselling Services. “Based on the feedback forms that we received from students who had used the service, many had indicated that they would like to see it expanded to another day, so that’s something that’s guided us to want to look at expanding it.”
Changes to the walk-in service hinge on reducing wait times and making the service more accessible to students. The largest changes is the extension of the walk-in service from Wednesday to Thursdays, with the service now running both days from 11:30 a.m. – 3:30 p.m.
“I think the main change was based on the feedback about having to wait. And it was clear when we got the feedback forms, people still rated the service [well], they were happy with the counselling that they received, they were happy with leaving with a plan, the piece that they were unsatisfied about was having to wait in the waiting room for an hour or two. So from there we quickly changed the way that we schedule, and we basically have students leave and we say ‘Can you come back at 3 p.m. and you can have an appointment at that time?’ and then they do and they come back. So far we haven’t had any no-shows who have not returned for their appointment,” said Bilitz.
Scheduling of appointments is the intake specialist responsibility, who meets with each walk-in client briefly to figure out their needs and schedule an appointment time for later that day. According to Bilitz, assessments “could be as quick as 10 minutes.” In addition to planning appointments, the intake specialist can refer students to other services like ongoing counselling, or even refer them to other on-campus services based on their needs — for example, if students seek counselling to discuss academic concerns.
“When [students] meet with intake, basically they’re looking at what is the student hoping to get out of Counselling Services … so they’re going to look at what is the best fit, which service might fit best,” Bilitz said.
Bilitz expressed confidence in the quality of walk-in counselling that Counselling Services offers, and that student feedback had been quite positive.
“Even just this week, we had 13 students come to walk-in, and of those 13, 100 per cent said they were satisfied with the service that they received. And there’s a section for qualitative comments, and we’ve had very few comments that weren’t very positive about the service,” Bilitz said.