The Counseling Center Team – Shaping Practices with Historical Context

The team at Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) is well aware that the number of students of color who access services is well below proportion in relation to white peers, and the rate of access does not reflect the level of need assessed through institution-wide surveys and corroborated with the college counseling scholarship. It has been three years since the CAPS team became fully conscious of the racialized disparity of student access, and the team has not realized meaningful change.

The team organizes a work group to accelerate change, and the work group begins by raising consciousness to the underpinning socio-historical factors that inform ambivalence about accessing CAPS services by students of color. In particular, the team reviews literature concerning the 20th century violence of mental health research and practices that targeted communities of color, and how generational knowledge of the violence contributes to young people’s avoidance of mental health services.

The work designs a multi-part intervention, including community education to inform incoming students and their families about CAPS services and standards, targeted recruitment of students of color, increased hiring of practitioners of color and investment in the multicultural competence of all current CAPS staff with particular attention to the generational apprehensions of people of color related to accessing mental health services. 

Key Take-Aways
  • The Issue: Intergenerational trauma of people of color through modern mental health services is one of many factors adversely impacting students of color accessing services through CAPS.
  • The Deliberation: The CAPS team forms a work group to facilitate their collective consciousness and determine other necessary interventions to improve access and participation by students of color.
  • The Growth: The CAPS team learns to conceptualize diversity, equity and inclusion work through multiple dimensions including the sociohistorical.