Wellness Center establishes new programs with hope to reach all students’ needs


With a new mission statement comes a new mission, proves the Counseling Services in the Franciscan University Wellness Center, which is set to open five new programs to minister to students.

The Counseling Services, located in the Franciscan University Wellness Center, is set to debut five innovative new programs, which will reach different needs of the individual student, and help to better foster a growth in mind, body and spirit.

Their recently established new mission statement better fits the campus mission.

“(It) feeds into the Student Life Mission, which feeds into the overall university mission statement,” said Matthew Burriss, MA, LPCC-S, interim director of the Wellness Center. “Everything we do at the Wellness Center fits this mission, including these groups.”

Reading directly from the statement shortly to be made public, Burriss added, “To be a successful student, you have to have a healthful mind and body.”

Each of the five dynamic programs addresses common issues among college students. “Lifting the Spirit” addresses depression, its effects and modes of treatment; “Finding Peace with Imperfect Families” treats a wide spectrum of family dysfunction; “Quenching the Anxious Spirit” is about managing and reducing anxiety, said Burriss.

Two of the five groups, “Becoming the Best Version of Yourself” and “In Proelio” (“Together in Battle”), were devised by students interning at the Wellness Center. Each group is headed by members of the Center, together with trained interns.

Burris said that the programs were instituted with the intention of adhering to the needs of the many.

“The idea here is that by doing some groups, we can offer services to as many students as possible,” said Burris. “The need is definitely there. These groups allow us to give some of the same services to more students.”

“Most of the material that students get in these groups is fairly similar to what they would receive in individual counseling,” said Burriss.

Each group begins with an initial informational/orientation session, covering the objectives and the benefits of the group itself.

Although the Wellness Center cannot know which group or groups will yield the best results, “We’re hoping all of them are successful,” Burris said.

“We’ve put in a strong initiative to minister to our student body,” said Burris. “That’s where these groups come from.”

The Wellness Center has long since addressed the inevitable among university students.

“Our students are great, but many of them come with baggage,” said Burris. “The vast majority of students who seek counseling services at the FUS Wellness Center have some variation of depression and anxiety.”

Burriss said, “It was a no-brainer that we should have a group for each of those.”

Because of the Catholic focus of the university, Burriss said the Wellness Center aims to take its mission a step further.

“How are we going to minister to this student, and help them be the best Catholic that they can be?” said Burriss. “How do we help them pursue faith and reason? That is really at the heart of everything that the Wellness Center does.”

In the future, after the newly established groups are reputed, Counseling Services also looks to bring back “Magdalene’s Hope,” perhaps as soon as fall 2017. The program mentors to women “who were promiscuous at one point, and they still deal with shame,” said Burriss.

Depending on the needs of the student body, the Wellness Center may also establish future groups.

These five programs, each specifically designed to administer help and healing to a variety of university students, are still only a single facet of the impact Counseling Services has on the immediate academic community.Through the Franciscan Mentorship Program and one-on-one counseling sessions, the office seeks tirelessly to better address aspects of student life: spirit, mind, and body.