Noonsong has been in depression in recent months. She has often shed tears at night because her relationship with her friends and family has become distant, and her school life has not been pleasant. Thinking that she wanted to stop living such a sad life, she went to the website of the in-school counseling support center called the Sookmyung Happiness Counseling Center and self-diagnosed her depression. The test showed a high depression score, and she decided to request counseling after seeing that the test result recommended that she get help from experts such as those in the school counseling centers.
Counseling centers for Sookmyungians
SMWU has two general counseling centers: the Center for Human Rights and the Sookmyung Happiness Counseling Center. First of all, the Center for Human Rights was established to deal with wider human rights violations than the existing Center for Gender Equality. Victims of human rights violations or third parties who are aware of such facts may report incidents to the counseling center by writing, calling, or visiting, etc. The counseling center is located in Room 608 of Queen Sunheon Building and is open from 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. on weekdays. The Special Committee on the Prevention and Treatment of Human Rights Violations investigates and deliberates on the reported cases and recommends necessary measures, such as disciplinary action, according to the results. In order to prevent human rights violations in SMWU, lectures about human rights are held every year. This year, an online lecture was held under the title of "Sookmyung Human Rights, Tuium (sprouting)." The Center for Human Rights also publishes research reports on the results of a survey on human rights violations every year after conducting a survey of 1,020 undergraduates for the first time in 2019. According to the 2019 survey, the aspect of human rights violations continued to be high among respondents who said they had suffered harm from professors. It also showed that most of the victims failed to deal with the situation even though they had experienced suffering. Through these findings, the Center for Human Rights contributes to protecting the human rights of Sookmyungians and promoting awareness of human rights among school members.
The Sookmyung Happiness Counseling Center is another one of the counseling centers for Sookmyungians. The center was opened in 1962 and is a counseling institution established to help students to live a happy life and grow into a healthy and mature person. The center is located in Room 111 at Queen Sunheon Building. Personal counseling, collective counseling, and psychological tests are prepared. Personal counseling is a process that helps solve problems efficiently through 1:1 meetings with professional counselors when there are difficulties. It is 50 minutes per session and is based on 15 sessions each term. The contents of the sessions are confidential and free for undergraduate students, so there is no burden. If Sookmyungians want to apply for online counseling, students can go to the counseling center's website, or directly visit the center for offline counseling. Counseling is available on a variety of topics such as academics and career, life, family and interpersonal relationships. There is group counseling where several students share their stories on a similar topic. Personal psychological tests are also possible, and there are various types of career aptitude tests such as 'Holland' and the career interest test 'Strong'. Students can get interpretative counseling from experts after performing the desired psychological tests. Taking the necessary psychological tests beforehand helps set goals for the counseling based on the individual's condition.
Current status of school counseling centers
Considering the characteristics of each counseling center and the survey results of SMT to be introduced below, the Sookmyung Happiness Counseling Center has the largest degree of use and influence of students among various school counseling centers. Therefore, SMT visited the center for an interview with a representative. Park Aesun, head of the center, said that the Sookmyung Happiness Counseling Center is trying to prevent and solve problems occurring inside and outside the school or in various relationships with the overall goal of making Sookmyungians happy just like the center's name. She said, "If people know themselves well, such as their personalities and aptitudes, they can live good lives, and understand themselves. Therefore we are conducting various counseling projects and tests to help establish the university students' identities." Also, the Sookmyung Happiness Counseling Center has made it possible to request for online counseling as well as offline based on an integrated management system that has been established since January last year. Currently, most consultations are conducted by video call or phone to make the students choose among the various methods due to COVID-19. But, if necessary, they are conducted face-to-face at the private counseling office on the first floor of Queen Sunheon Building based on thorough compliance with quarantine guidelines. Park also talked about the stress and depression self-diagnosis tests on the Sookmyung Happiness Counseling Center's website. She said, "Although the results of the tests are not completely absolute, it is still possible to consider using the counseling center as an opportunity to look back on the results of self-diagnosis". As of August 9, when the interview was held, students have been steadily applying for counseling with 130 people waiting. Compared to other universities, Park mentioned that SMWU's counseling center has a relatively large number of users.
With the aim of looking at the direction in which the school counseling center should move forward, SMT conducted a survey on the perception of the school counseling center. According to the survey, 31 out of 33 respondents (93.9%) knew that there were in-school counseling centers such as the Center for Human Rights and the Sookmyung Happiness Counseling Center.1) Most students were aware of the existence of school counseling centers, but it seems rare for students to visit them when they actually have experiences that require reporting or counseling. 7 out of 33 respondents (21.2%) said they had experienced human rights violations in and out of school, but none of them reported or applied for counseling at the Center for Human Rights. In addition, 14 out of 33 respondents (42.4%) said they had experienced severe stress or depression, but only 2 of them (14.3%) said they had asked for help from the Sookmyung Happiness Counseling Center. One respondent said, "I have never experienced extreme stress and depression, but I have had a hard time because of anxiety. I wanted to get counseling, but I thought it's not as serious as the students who get counseling, so I didn't use it." Some students seem to be hesitant because even though they want to get counseling, they think their situation is not critical enough.
Counseling centers that we create together
Students' satisfaction with the school counseling center was also recognized through a survey. 2 of the 24 respondents (8.3%) who have used the counseling center said they were very satisfied with the report processing, consultation progress, and psychological test service of SMWU's counseling center, while 18 (75%) said they were generally satisfied. As for the most satisfactory areas, 42.1% of the respondents picked the highest as the 'counseling process', followed by the report process (21.1%), the consultation process (21.1%), and the consultation psychologist (10.5%). The reason was that it was convenient to apply. Both the Center for Human Rights and the Sookmyung Happiness Counseling Center can be applied for by a visit to the center and online, so students can easily apply for counseling through the website. In addition, one of the respondents replied, "I received useful counseling regarding my career, and the counselor was very kind in the process of applying for counseling." However, when asked about satisfaction, 3 out of 24 respondents (12.5%) said they were dissatisfied, and one said she was very dissatisfied. The most unsatisfactory part was that the counseling centers were not well promoted. One respondent said, "I wanted to do an intelligence test, but I was rejected because there was no clinical psychologist in the center to give me interpretative counseling." It shows a lack of enough professionals that can provide interpretative counseling for the psychological tests that are available.
SMT delivered the results of the students' survey on the Sookmyung Happiness Counseling Center to the head of the center and asked for the center's thoughts. In response to the positive opinion in the survey that it is good to ensure secrecy, Park said, "I think this center has important parts of counseling, such as maintaining absolute secrecy, the environment of pleasant counseling rooms and the ability of the counselors." On the opinion that the counseling center lacks accessibility and promotion, she stressed that the center is regularly promoting itself by delivering push messages on the Smart Sookmyung app to students. Park said, "Recently, we have been making continuous improvements by changing the frequency of regular transmission of promotional messages from weekly to monthly based on the students' feedback." It means that the center is actively promoting itself. However, due to COVID-19, she expressed some sadness that the center cannot use offline methods such as booth installation and posters and can only promote online. Next, in the survey, one anonymous opinion said, "I want the center to write 'It doesn't matter whether your worries are big or small' in the promotional language of the counseling center. When I was having a hard time due to a little anxiety, I agonized over whether the difficulty would be enough to get counseling, so I didn't apply." In response, Park agreed with this and said she will consider adding that sentence, incorporating the feedback. Lastly, she encouraged students' participation, saying that in addition to personal and group counseling, and psychological tests conducted by the center, psychological tests, workshops, and group counseling programs for dormitory students are underway.
Realization of a happy university life
In-school counseling centers such as the Sookmyung Happiness Counseling Center and the Center for Human Rights provide counseling services that can be used by Sookmyungians. In addition to them, in-school counseling centers are established in various fields such as international exchange program counseling, job counseling, school complaints and inconvenience counseling. Students' active use and interest in the counseling center, and continuous feedback, will contribute to a more stable and developed university life of Sookmyungians.
1) The total number of students enrolled is 12,391, with a survey participation rate of about 0.3%
Kim Lee Jiwon / Reporter
Park Gil Yeonseo / Reporter