Counseling Services Still Here for PCC Students Remotely
by Lex Rule
PCC’s counseling services are adapting to the current campus shut down by offering students mental health support remotely. Students can access individual and group counseling sessions, drop-in group workshops, and social work services through a remote telehealth platform, as stated on PCC’s counseling webpage.
All four campus counseling centers had three weeks to make a shift in operations, a process that usually takes about nine to 12 months. “It has been a labor of love but very intense labor, but the counselors are pretty excited just to have a way to meet with students,” said Lisa Aasheim, Director of Counseling Services.
During a typical academic year, the counseling department is busiest during Fall term. Aaesheim said that at this time, they’ve been seeing little interest from students, but expect to see that change soon.
“This week, we expect to see at least 150 students from campuses across the district through individual and group services . . . and we have created capacity for at least another 300 students to meet with us this term and next.”
A team of social workers and social work interns are available to assist students with finding and navigating basic needs and resources. Students can get help with emergency grants, signing up for the Oregon Health Plan, maintaining internet and phone service, and finding access to food.
“We want to help them stay motivated and keep their chin up while they try to access these things that can be so hard to access . . . We don’t do it for them, but we certainly hold their hand through the process, if that’s what they want,” said Aasheim.
The office has also started releasing content through the marketing department, sharing information through instructors, and has recently launched a video series that covers relevant topics like mindfulness, mediation, and relaxation.
“We’re really trying to open the lines of communication so that students and instructors can tell us what they need and we can respond fast with materials and information for them specifically,” Aasheim said.
Students can attend an unlimited amount of 30 minute long individual counseling sessions, and multiple with the same counselor. “There used to be an eight session limit and we’ve lifted that [which is] a change in our service model overall—so whether we are remote or in-person, we are instead just agreeing to see people for as long as the need exists,” said Aasheim.
PCC’s counseling webpage features a list of off-campus crisis resources, and the counseling department can also help students with finding other mental health professionals.
“There’s a lot of frustration because many are experiencing interruptions to the progress they were making . . . there’s a lot of ambiguous grief—they’re not even identifying it as grief, but that seems to be what they’re experiencing—because they’ve lost a lot right now,” Aasheim said.
PCC’s identity-based equity centers (IBEC) have also been offering students supplemental mental health and community support online. Adrianne Mortenson, student-advocate for Rock Creek’s Women’s Resource Center (WRC,) recently held a “Color and Conversation” event that invited students to join them in coloring and discussing ways to practice self-care. Mortenson said this event, as well as other opportunities for all students to stay connected with the community, will occur weekly. Rock Creek’s WRC centers intersectionality and inclusivity of all genders in their work and is intentionally a trans-inclusive space, said Kiera Hansen, the center’s coordinator.
“Just because our doors are closed, doesn’t mean our virtual doors are closed,” said Mortenson.
Another student-advocate, Jacquelyn Carcamo, has been meeting with a PCC counselor for over a year. She said that her first online counseling session helped remind her what she needs to be focusing on and what’s important to her, “Even though it was brief, it was much needed and we were able to keep it more to the point . . . I think it was a very helpful resource.”
Although Carcamo has successfully utilized this service, she recognizes a need from her peers for a variety of ways to access resources: “I think it’s really important for anyone who’s offering resources to have lots of different options, whether there’s a way to have a text chat for those who are more comfortable with that or a Zoom meeting for people who really want that experience of being able to see the person.”
Aasheim encourages all students to take advantage of the resources designed to help them be successful as they progress through their academics. For students who may be hesitant or fearful to reach out for mental help for the first time, Aaesheim assures them that the counseling services aren’t intimidating and, ultimately, rewarding. “They should have a team that supports every aspect of their whole being, and counseling can be used not just when they have a problem but when they want to just perform better. So, they can think of a counselor as a performance coach who helps them just perform at their best when they’re feeling like their best might be compromised by anything.”
To learn more about PCC’s counseling services or schedule an appointment, visit: https://www.pcc.edu/counseling/
To connect with PCC Rock Creek’s Women’s Resource Center, visit:
and follow them on Instagram @rockcreekwrc and Facebook: