“How does that make you feel?” student teletherapy by phone

By Sarah Knickerbocker

Staff Writer

Social distancing and self-quarantining in a global pandemic can be a lonely and anxious time for students. Without  the ability to have face-to-face counseling during this time, students are instead getting teletherapy via phone or video. Teletherapy is nothing to be scared or worried about, said personal counselor Sarah Klionsky. “I ask students each time we talk how they like this tele-counseling and most really like it,” Klionsky said. “It is counseling without having to leave your room!” 

Teletherapy allows students to have more choice in how long they meet with counselors and whether they prefer phone or video calls depending on their comfort level. “I am just so glad that I’ve been able to keep one part of my SMC routine going while being home,” said Alexandra Knight ‘22.

“We can be with students to support them through this time of physical distancing, whether they are on campus or off campus with their families,” Klionsky said. “We get to meet students’ pets and support animals. We can meet for 5 minutes, 15 minutes, 30 minutes or for a 45-minute session. We can do meditation and relaxation exercises over phone or video.” But there are limitations to the format, Klionsky said. “We can’t get you tea or water, give you access to our office, have the box of fidget toys, or offer tissues.” The tele-health platform is called Doxy-me and it is easy to use HIPAA compliant telehealth.

“Students need to have something in this time to smile about, laugh about, and to find the joy in even while being quarantined in your own house,” said psychology professor, Melissa McDuffie, who wants to remind students about the importance of structure, routine, and having a sense of humor. She expressed the importance of reaching out to Bergeron and using their resources if you’re struggling during this difficult time. There are several helpful links and information on mindfulness, yoga, relaxation, scholarly articles, and more on Bergeron’s resources web page.

“We will be here for you, regardless of what is happening with COVID-19 and we will work with each of you individually to help you continue services with us, connect with us now, or to help you to connect to local providers,” Klionsky said.

Bergeron Wellness Center offers several virtual classes including Radical Relaxation, Yoga for all Levels, and Mental Skills Training: Managing Stress, said Director of Counseling Kathy Butts. The details for these classes are on Bergeron’s Instagram page and it is super easy to join by clicking the Zoom link on the page’s bio.

“Bergeron Counseling has created an Instagram account to stay connected with our students, colleagues, and friends,” said counseling intern Tessa Boltz. “We offer tips, tools, and inspiration for meditation and stress management, as well as spread the word about SMC sponsored events like weekly yoga and mental skills training. We at @bergeroncounseling already have 123 followers, join us!”

Feeling challenged by anxiety or loneliness or other aspects of your mental health? Set-up an appointment by calling Bergeron Wellness at the office at 802-654-2234, even if it’s your first-time contacting Bergeron. The Center has also posted resources on their website and Instagram page @bergeroncounseling.