Counseling services names new director

Written By Sarah Gibson, Co-News Editor

The once vacant director of counseling services position has now been filled by former Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) Executive Director Kurt Kumler. 

Since the resignation of Taffie Bucci last year, the position has remained unfilled. Kumler, previously the executive director of Counseling and Psychological services at CMU, is the new director of Point Park’s counseling services. 

Bucci cited an understaffed counseling service as her reason for leaving Point Park and pursuing her private practice full time. Kumler briefly commented on Bucci’s resignation.

“In regards to the problem of understaffing…” Kumler said, “I don’t think so, but I have a lot to learn.” 

Junior journalism major Victoria Bails sought out counseling during the 2017 fall semester. She noticed that counseling was busy, but she didn’t think they were understaffed. 

“As someone who sees a counselor, I know that sometimes it can be difficult, but they have made time for me, any time that I’ve needed them,” Bails said. 

On the other hand, Megan Ortego, a sophomore cinema major, did experience problems with counseling services last year due to a scheduling issue. 

“I went towards the end of the first semester, […] I remember sending the email […] It took them a while to get back to me because my schedule didn’t fit with the counselors,” Ortego said.

Kumler explained that counseling services are, in part, performed by doctoral level trainees at Point Park. He noted this is not a new development for counseling services, and counseling was conducted under Bucci in this manner.

“Trainees can do great work,” Kumler said.

He clarified that while a trainee would be speaking with students, the trainees would be under constant supervision of licensed professionals via possible videotaping of a session with the consent of the student, weekly meetings with a professional and group training sessions with other trainees. 

This year, there are additional responsibilities for the director of counseling services position. Along with being an assistant professor, Kumler will provide oversight for counseling services, lead the direction of the counseling center, and make decisions about programming.

One of those decisions is the introduction of group therapy sessions, where students can gather together and help each other with their problems. Bails thought the new therapy method could be positive. 

“I mean, I probably wouldn’t do it myself. […] I think it could be helpful for some people who could use something like that,” Bails said.

Kumler also aims to raise awareness for the interconnectivity of counseling services as well as other support services such as residential education, campus police, university health, and SAIL, so students and faculty can live more connected to a community and live healthier as a result. 

Bails, previously a pioneer ambassador, acknowledges the importance of alerting students of the services that are readily available to them. 

“Part of [being a pioneer ambassador] was letting students know there is a counseling service and a center for that,” Bails said. “We also told them that, you know, a lot of other colleges charge students after the first couple of sessions and we, as a school, do not do that. You can have as many sessions without getting charged and it’s always free for students.” 

While Kumler anticipates what is in store for counseling services this year, some feel as though there is room for improvement. Ortego is one of those people.

“I just hope that they can figure out permanent solutions for some issues that they’re having because I think that it could have been a lot better last year,” Ortego said. “I hope that everything can get sorted out that it works out that everyone who requests help can get help whenever it’s convenient for them”

Kumler highlighted the importance of advocating for needs of mental health services on college campuses. 

“I feel like that’s why I’m here,” Kumler said.