by John Smith - Nov. 11, 2015
Fall is an active time both in the academic halls of Ferris State University, and in the Personal Counseling Center, according to University Counselor Chris Richmond.
Over more than a decade, Richmond has observed that by the third week of classes, students will begin scheduling appointments to meet with a counselor, and their offices in the Birkam Health Center are bustling by mid-term exams. Richmond said as a campus-based practice, they are in a unique position to help students with a variety of personal issues.
”We see lots of students for lots of reasons, homesickness or a relationship break-up, to students with very serious levels of psychopathology they’ve been treating and receiving therapy for, for an extended period of time,” Richmond said.
As a licensed marriage and family therapist, Richmond said he is bound by laws and professional standards regarding patient confidentiality, and buoyed by Ferris’ core value of ethical community. He said the resiliency of his clients to “move in a healthy direction” after just a few counseling sessions is a rewarding aspect of his profession.
”Often times, they don’t feel like they need us to bring them to the promised land, or exactly where they want their life to be,” Richmond said. “If they’re close enough, and feel that they’re on the right path, they know what it’s going to take to get there.”
Society is keen to categorize people, using demographic labels like “Baby Boomers,” “Generation X” or “Millennials.” Richmond doesn’t take stock in such groupings, but the counselor does see a minor trait among those born near the end of the 20th century, with regard to their participation in the counseling process.
”Most of them want to start seeing change sooner rather than later,” Richmond said. “They don’t want to be mired in the past, talking about their childhood. Most of them want to focus on the future, and start feeling better, heading in a direction where they’re achieving their goals.”
Richmond cautioned that while patient confidentiality is an important element of his professional practice, clients expressing thoughts of suicide, homicide or making statements regarding child abuse call for intercession to assure the safety of the client or others.
Richmond earned his PhD from Western Michigan University, and his credentials as a fully licensed psychologist allow the Personal Counseling Center to provide internship opportunities to master’s and doctoral students. He said they can help shape their careers, and foster a caring attitude toward clients.
“We have interns come in from Western Michigan, Central Michigan and Grand Valley,” Richmond said. “They’re looking for a training experience, seeing individual clients, doing assessments, that’s an important piece of our work here, training beginning counselors and helping to instill in them some of the ethical responsibilities we see as important to this field.”
Richmond also serves as a member of the university’s Liaison Committee for Students with Disabilities. The doctor pointed out that if those with physical or psychological disabilities were tracked as a minority, they would be the largest such group in the country.
“We want to be inclusive as a center, and as a university,” Richmond said. “The university is open to offering time and resources to those with disabilities, with the full support of Ferris’ Diversity and Inclusion Office.”
John Smith is the communications specialist for News Services and Social Media in University Advancement and Marketing.
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