Get to know your Counseling and Life Development staff

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At the beginning of the fall semester, nine graduate interns entered the doors of 540 Garden Ave. for the first time.

Approximately 35 years prior, Patrick Stack, director of the Counseling and Life Development Department (CLD), accepted his current position by fate and moved his belongings into an office in Maria Hall, right above Marletto’s Marketplace.

Graphic by Kenzie Akins

Stack’s original plan was to continue working for his previous job at Logos School. During that time, his wife sent a resume to Webster, which was looking for a counseling director. Stack went in for an interview and decided the job would help him gain experience for the then-preferred Logos position.

“There were two reasons I was hired. I had some supervisory experience, and I had training in wellness,” Stack said. “Back in 1988, wellness was gigantic, particularly on college campuses.”

Wellness is a program designed to optimize the productivity, health and satisfaction of employees. Additionally, Stack was the only full-time counselor at the university.

At the time, the only residents on campus lived in Maria Hall and Webster Hall. Many of the rooms in those building spaces were also designated for Webster’s administrative departments.

Over time, however, the CLD expanded as the residential housing for students did, responding to the demand for more services. The CLD and Health Services originally shared the space by the parking garage and later became neighbors. By 2001, Stack acquired an assistant director, and now, a contract nurse and a department coordinator have joined the full-time staff.

“That’s how I came here, and little did I ever think that I would have had, or have had, the wonderful experience that I’ve had over 35 years,” Stack said.

Each year since Stack’s arrival, he has brought in interns to help them gain field experience in return for help around the office. Currently, there are seven interns from the Brown School of Social Work at Washington University St. Louis and two from the University of Missouri-St. Louis. Each part-time employee is available to students, faculty and staff for counseling services.

With all of the interns at the disposal of the university, all programs are free of charge.

“The fact that students get to use our services, free of charge, for as many sessions as they want is honestly such a gift that is not very common at other universities,” intern Rachel Devine said. “It is truly a great resource for processing, support and healing.”

Stack noted that the accessibility of the counseling program has a big impact.

“I think there’s a gigantic contributing factor to the explosion of the use of mental health services that has to be credited to the younger generation. I think the younger generation is not making a distinction between physical health and mental health. In my opinion, the younger generation is looking at the wholeness of a person, which includes physical, as well as mental,” Stack said.

In response to this rise in mental health advocacy, the interns feel strongly about their field and their effect on Webster’s campus.

“We all work really hard at the CLD to help our patients reach their therapeutic goals,” intern Josh Goff said. “It is our intention that all we interact with have a better understanding of mental health and how it impacts their lives and to assist them in that process.”

“I hope that the CLD is a resource that the entire student body is aware of and takes advantage of if they are feeling in need of support in any way,” intern Grace Schmidt said.

When asked why counseling and similar services is integral to the student body, Stack referenced his philosophy degree in emphasis, specifically the four cardinal virtues of justice, prudence, temperance and fortitude. Fortitude, in particular, translates to “courage” in English, but the Greeks, who created the virtues, did not agree with that definition. They believed that one could be brave without any courage, and that the actual definition of courage was “to be honest with yourself.”

“I see therapy or counseling as a form of courage, with the person being honest with themselves. That has greatly influenced how I go forward as a therapist,” Stack said.

For more information on the services provided by the CLD, stop by the office at 540 Garden Ave. behind the Multicultural Center and International Student Affairs building, call them at 314-968-7030, or email counselingld@webster.edu.

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KP Benton
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