Interview with Noelle Harris PhD –
Assistant Dean and Director of Counseling, Religious, and Spiritual Life
As we near the second half of this semester, many of us find ourselves stressed with exams and upcoming assignments, especially if we are not currently pleased with our grades. It has now been over a year since we have been impacted by Covid-19 and the way that it changed everyday life. On top of all of this, we still have to deal with the anxiety and other emotions that come with being a college student. Here at HerCampus, we wanted to look into ways to deal with and balance all of the stress life may throw at us, and what better way to do that than to reach out to Bryant Counseling Services?!
We were lucky enough to get the opportunity to speak with Noelle Harris PhD, and ask her a few questions regarding the services and programs that are offered to us through counseling at Bryant University. During our talk, she revealed that anxiety is the number one reason that someone may choose to go to counseling, and counselors are trained to take evidence-based approaches on helping that person deal with their anxieties. She also pointed out that many college students are so busy that they forget to take time out of their day to relax and do nothing. Constantly having something to do is draining and overwhelming. Mental health is so important, so we want to share our interview with Noelle and what we learned about Bryant Counseling Services and all of the beneficial programs it has to offer:
HC: How does going to counseling benefit students?
Noelle: Social support is the number resource that individuals in distress seek out … if you don’t have a friend or family to lean on, counseling services is a good option. Plus, counselors are trained to be nonjudgmental and neutral so they tend to exhibit less bias and opinions (they don’t have an opinion about you like most people in your life), which can be very useful when people are distressed.
HC: What attracted you to work for the counseling center?
Noelle: I really enjoy working with college students. They are typically very passionate and insightful, and the work is rewarding. Young people are just beginning careers and relationships, so they often more open and flexible with change. And working at an IHE (Institution of Higher Education) is a stimulating place to be. Research, learning, and best practices are part of the experience of working at a college or university.
HC: Why might someone decide to go to counseling?
Noelle: People decide to go to counseling for many reasons: They are suffering over a wound, breakup or having relationship difficulties, they are experiencing an onset of psychiatric or mental health symptoms, they have experienced a traumatic event, they need help with coping skills or need more social support, and, or they are feeling anxious and overwhelmed.
HC: What would you say to someone who is considering counseling?
Noelle: Take a chance … if you keep doing the same things in life, you will typically continue to see the same results. If you take a risk or make a change, things will undoubtedly be different.
HC: I have never been to counseling before. What should I expect on my first visit?
Noelle: Be ready to talk about your situation and needs, this takes vulnerability.
HC: I’m not sure if counseling is for me. What do you recommend?
Noelle: I encourage you to “consult” with a counselor first. Ask for a phone consultation to discuss your concerns, you might get enough from this talk to move forward. But counseling is not right for everyone, especially if you don’t like to express yourself in words. Instead, try spending some time exercising, being in nature, moving your body, and take up a hobby to cultivate your soul.
HC: Do you have any tips on balancing the stress of everyday life?
Get adequate sleep and nutrition.
Be realistic about your expectations (not everyone can get a 4.0 or 3.0 …) and use time management to structure your goals and priorities.
Do something to relax your body and mind everyday: Exercise, be in nature, move your body, cultivate a hobby, sit in the sun, meditate, walk, cook, garden, knit, play guitar etc.).
Be kind to yourself and those around you and cultivate gratitude daily. Fear (stress and worry) is not compatible with love.
Lead with your strengths and “fake it until you make it.”
Pursue your passions, passions drive success.
Try to stay in the present moment, this is the place where you have the most control.
We hope this article provides you with the information (and strength) that you need to check up on your mental health. Whether that is talking to a counselor or doing yoga or meditation, it is important that you set aside time for yourself to relax and reflect. Bryant Counseling Services offers all of these programs, and more, which you can see for yourself on their website! Counseling services at Bryant are actually the only center in Rhode Island that has remained in-person the entire time we have been on campus. Although Zoom appointments are available if that is what you are most comfortable with, Bryant Counseling Services has offices with plexiglass, seats far apart enough to keep socially distant, and all counselors will wear masks to avoid potential Covid exposure as much as possible. If you are looking to make an appointment or have questions about any of these services, feel free to call (401) 232-6045 or email [email protected]! They are here to help!