Counseling Center: The office of free service and support

For many students, college is a time for meeting new people, partying and discovering the people we want to be. The last part can often times be confusing, frustrating or downright scary. For anyone struggling with school, personal issues, mental health problems or even relationship difficulties, the Counseling Center is here to help.

The Counseling Center at Central Michigan University provides free, time-limited, weekly or bi-weekly counseling services to currently enrolled students. According to the Counseling Center’s website, the goal of the Counseling Center is “to provide services and programs which enable students to develop skills, attitudes, and behaviors essential for personal growth, successful academic progress, and student effectiveness.”

Off-campus students can utilize the counseling center just as on-campus students can. The only difference is on-campus students have the added benefit of having counselors in the residence halls.

Doctor Ross Rapaport, Ph.D., the director of the center, said the Counseling Center is a confidential resource for students. Anything that is discussed during the one-hour counseling session is protected by doctor-patient confidentiality laws. The Counseling Center will only break confidentiality if a student is suicidal, homicidal or if there have been reports of child abuse, subpoenas or other issues of that nature.

“We strive to have a welcoming, friendly, safe space for students to come to if they’re having concerns,” Rapaport said.

Doctor Kristie Birchmeire, one of the counselors employed at the center, works with any issues students might have instead of one area of expertise. Birchmeire said those service fees paid out of your tuition are the fees that allows you to obtain free service. She also said the center treats for more than just anxiety and depression.

“We work with students who have issues within relationships, work issues (or) anything dealing with academic decisions,” Birchmeire said.

The Center provides services for all types of issues, including but not limited to alcohol and drug abuse, bipolar disorder, depression and several others. Birchmeire said the center utilizes a lot of talk therapy and discussions, but they also recommend books or readings to help students or even writing exercises. Sometimes an assessment is given for students to fill out where they can rate or scale themselves.

“Sometimes, it might not be something they necessarily talk about,” Birchmeire said. “But then if they read it, it provides a tool to further discuss what’s going on.”

The Counseling Center currently employs 10 counselors. They also employ psychologists and social workers in addition to the professional counselors.

Birchmeire recommends using the self-help tool on their website where anyone can get help for issues such as anxiety, grief and loss, depression and substance abuse.

Urgent appointments are available daily. If a student is having an emergency and needs to be seen immediately, he or she can call the Counseling Center or head right to the office and ask to be seen.

If you would like to learn more about the Counseling Center, visit their website or make an appointment for a counseling session.


Doctor Ross Rapaport, Ph.D., director of the Counseling Center. (Photo | Jessica Jenkins)
Doctor Ross Rapaport, Ph.D., director of the Counseling Center. (Photo | Jessica Jenkins)