Editor’s note: This article was initially published in The Daily Gazette, Swarthmore’s online, daily newspaper founded in Fall 1996. As of Fall 2018, the DG has merged with The Phoenix. See the about page to read more about the DG.
Melissa Cruz ’10 and Megan Jeffreys ’10 are the organizers of a peer counseling service set to open in about three weeks. David Ramirez of Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) and associate dean Darryl Smaw have been meeting with and advising the group, but the counselors themselves are Swarthmore students. In preparation for the program’s opening, the twelve students have been training since last spring.
Why introduce peer counseling at Swarthmore? “A lot of people come to CAPS looking for an expert,” said Jeffreys. But in some circumstances, a student may simply want to be heard by “someone who’s been there before.” Cruz explained, “Our goal is not be professionals or to give advice; we want to be great listeners.” She added that Peer Counseling will also “direct people to the resources that are already here.” Those interested in meeting with a peer counselor will be able to “arrange for somewhere to meet,” and even request a phone session if they wish. Eventually, the group will be based in a designated room. The group’s goals also include “mental health advocacy:” Cruz and Jeffreys hope to bring in speakers and host forums to raise awareness on campus about mental health issues.
Peer Counseling will be hosting an introductory study break; look for more specific information in the weeks to come.