Carol Jollotta admits that being a one-person mental health counseling center for a College can be busy and hectic but being that one person that students feel comfortable coming to see when they need someone to listen is worth it.
Often when being referred to the counseling center, student leaders will suggest a student to go see “Carol” instead of “Counseling”. It’s that personal approach that Carol brings that fits so well to the Thomas College community.
Carol, a licensed clinical social worker, first came to Thomas College more than 10 years ago on a part-time contract capacity, and then in 2016, she became the College’s first full-time on-campus counselor.
“I’m very fortunate to be the first face of counseling here. I feel good about the relationships I’ve built with students, faculty, and staff. People seem to feel comfortable about coming to see me or referring students. I love the ability to be personal,” said Carol.
Counseling Services at Thomas College offers individual and couples counseling for full-time students. This service is at no-cost to the students and is confidential. There are also group opportunities such as mindful meditation and de-stress craft making; consulting to faculty and staff who have concerns about students; guest speaking in classes about mental health topics; and awareness building events such as National Depression Screening Day.
The goal of mental health services at Thomas College is to support the whole student in being successful.
“What I love about counseling at a College is that for many students I am the first counselor they interact with. I hope to give them a positive first experience so they will see counseling as a resource they can use as needed throughout their lifetime,” said Carol.
Carol also explains that when working with a student, she serves as a tour guide of sorts – especially during that first appointment.
“I ask them a bunch of questions to sort out where they are and where they want to go and together, we figure out what tools they need to get them there,” says Carol. “I don’t tell them what to do; it’s a partnership to help students come to their own answers.”
During the onset of the pandemic this past spring, Carol needed to figure out quickly how to continue supporting students – who needed it more than ever in an uncertain world. Less than a week after the College went remote, Carol got herself trained and prepared to provide tele-behavioral health counseling for our students.
“For some students this semester, I have been a lifeline,” said Carol. “Through it all, students were coping with big things. What strikes me since I’ve been here in 2009 is the resilience and adaptability of our students – and that has continued through the COVID life we are living through right now.”
This past fall, Carol has continued to provide support for students in a unique semester.
In general, Carol says that mental health services are important in any year, not just a pandemic.
“This service helps us live into the Thomas mission. Counseling has helped students become even more successful in the classroom and in serving their community,” she says.
For those who have never utilized counseling services here, Carol encourages them to give it a try:
“Schedule one appointment. If you don’t like it, you’re not obligated to come back. It didn’t cost you anything – just 45 minutes of your life.”