Counseling is the psychological equivalent of visiting one’s family doctor for medical illnesses. The counseling department treats illnesses and disorders of the psyche, including depression and anxiety. The counselor also helps students with adjustment disorders related to change and stress. These may include being a first-time college student; juggling school, work, and parenting; peer conflict; poor academic performance; or a life change such as a relationship ending. Other reasons to see the counselor may include low self-esteem, poor communication skills, or a need to learn effective problem-solving. For those who need specialized or long-term treatment, referrals will be made, with student permission, to Akouo Counseling, a local provider in El Dorado.
Students may be referred to the counselor through the Behavioral Incident Report process, following a complaint or concern for a student’s wellbeing. Students can also be referred non-formally by faculty or staff for issues that do not pose a serious threat to the student or others. The counselor will then contact the student and set up an appointment.
The principal goal of SouthArk’s counseling program is to empower students to have successful and fulfilling careers in a field appropriate to their individual strengths and interests. The counselor helps students set reasonable and appropriate goals and present themselves in a manner that will maximize their strengths. SouthArk’s counseling department promotes an environment that values diversity both in a college setting and the community at large. The counseling program strives to help students maximize their full potential while taking proactive steps to live healthy emotionally, spiritually, and physically.
Arkansas law protects confidentiality for those in a counseling relationship, age 18 and older. It also requires or permits some exceptions, including the following:
• If the counselor has cause to believe there is a probability of imminent physical injury to the student or another person
• If the counselor has cause to believe that a child, elderly person, or disabled person is being abused, neglected, or exploited
• In response to certain court orders
These exceptions do not occur often. SouthArk is not legally obligated to discuss releasing a student’s confidential information with that student before doing so if doing so would prevent SouthArk from securing the student’s safety or the safety of others.
A student’s interactions with Counseling Services can be disclosed to others only with their written permission, except under the circumstances described above. A student’s confidential counseling file is not part of their academic record.
All students receiving counseling services have certain rights. These include the right to participate actively in developing alternatives for addressing concerns. A student may terminate counseling at any time for any reason, preferably only after discussing such termination with the counselor. The student is encouraged to ask questions about anything they do not understand.
The counseling program utilizes a brief counseling model that is solution-focused. A counseling session can last up to 60 minutes. Generally, a student may receive up to 3 sessions per semester.
Because email is never fully confidential, SouthArk asks students not to use email to communicate with the counselor about personal matters. If a student contacts the counselor by email, they implicitly give permission to the counselor to reply by email if the counselor chooses to do so. The counselor will not provide counseling via email under any circumstances. Email should never be used to communicate an urgent or critical message. Please keep in mind that emails sent to or received from the College are subject to the Arkansas Freedom of Information Act, Ark. Code Ann. Sec. § §25-19-101 et. Seq.
If Concerned About a Student
If it is believed that a student is at risk of becoming suicidal or violent, immediately call SouthArk Public Safety for assistance at 870-864-7125.
If a student becomes suicidal and is on campus, the student should contact Public Safety at 870-864-7125 for immediate assistance. If the student is off-campus, they should call 911 immediately or report to the nearest emergency room.
Alcohol and Drug Abuse Prevention
SAMHSA’s National Helpline: 1-800-662-HELP (4357)
SAMHSA’s National Helpline is a free, confidential, 24/7, 365-day-a-year treatment referral and information service (in English and Spanish) for individuals and families facing mental and/or substance use disorders.
It is important that students look out for one another. Please read this article from Campus Drug Prevention on ways to start the conversation regarding alcohol and drug abuse: How to Help a Friend.
Students seeking alcohol or drug abuse treatment can inquire in the counselor's office about local treatment options. Educational programs for SouthArk groups such as campus student organizations are available upon request. You can also visit Start Your Recovery, a resource for young adults who may be struggling with substance misuse.
Engagement, Success, and Wellness Training
SouthArk is dedicated to providing an optimal learning environment. We are invested in student success and want students to engage in the educational process and be prepared to continue their education or enter the workforce as top candidates. To this end, the counselor is available to conduct workshops and seminars throughout the year. The counselor may also visit SouthArk Student Success classes to teach students some of the skills necessary to not only succeed in an educational program but also to succeed in life.
- Workshops and seminars include topics such as:
- Conflict Resolution Skills
- Stress Management
- Communication Skills
- Using Social Media Responsibly
- Time Management
- Study Skills
- Healthy Relationships
The counselor will work collaboratively with faculty and staff to ensure that students have all the tools they need to succeed in today’s world. Faculty and staff are encouraged to utilize this service as a referral source for students who may need some extra help in these areas. Rest assured, the counselor is an advocate for the students and will work hard to make students’ time in school successful and their transition to a university or job smooth.