Finding a place to belong on campus

William Henke

Health Center at Whitworth University in Spokane Wash., Thursday, Oct. 23, 2023 | Juan Rodriguez/The Whitworthian

The Whitworth University counseling center begins several new and returning affinity groups to help students transition into fall semester.

The Immigration Learning Circle, (@wu.ilc on Instagram), aims to support those with anxieties around immigration. “Whether it’s their own immigration issues or family members, or [they] are just concerned about immigration issues in general,” said Molly DeWalt, director of Whitworth’s counseling services. This group has been active for four years and meets bi-weekly on Tuesdays at 4:00 p.m. in the relaxation center in Schumacher Hall. 

The LGBTQ+ Affinity Group is “designed to support students who identify as LGBTQ+ or queer,” said DeWalt. This is a newer group on campus, starting up last year after “reports about the students in that population struggling,” DeWalt said. 

Starting on Oct. 11, the Neurospicy Support Group will have its first meeting of the year. According to their flier, anyone who identifies with the neurodivergent community is welcome to stop by and increase their “sense of belonging on campus through social connection,” said DeWalt. This group will also focus on building mindfulness practices, distress tolerance and sensory and emotional regulation skills.  

The Healthy Relationships Group welcomes people in all kinds of relationships, such as roommates, friends or romantic partners. The goal is to “educate and support students within relationships,” said DeWalt.

In addition to these groups, the counseling center also hosts animal therapy sessions with dogs during various times throughout the semester for anyone who is feeling stressed out and has a love for animals. Posters and emails will inform students when the next pet therapy session is coming to campus. 

All these groups are open, meaning that attendees are free to stop by anytime they want, with no commitment pressures.

“It’s based on time and student interest […]. We only have six counselors and once their schedules are full that limits the amount of people we can see,” said DeWalt.

Weighing student needs is how the counseling center chooses what groups to continue offering. If students do not show up, the group is shelved until there is more student interest.  

These groups are aimed at helping Whitworth’s diverse student body. If you or anyone you know might benefit from extra support, contact the Health and Counseling Center.  

For more information, check out the counseling center Instagram @whitworthcounselingcenter.

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