Western Kentucky University

Individual Counseling

Individual Counseling

Individual counseling is at the heart of the services offered by the Counseling and Testing Center. Six full time clinicians, two pre-doctoral students, and two graduate students provide individual counseling during hour long weekly sessions. Most students come in for under six sessions and return if their difficulties persist. There are some students who come in for longer treatment while others come in for a single session and are referred out for additional services.

While clinicians bring their own unique approaches to helping, the WKU Counseling and Testing Center has a strong commitment to providing clinically appropriate, effective treatment in a caring, supportive, and developmentally sensitive manner.

Below, each of the six full time clinicians has provided brief summaries of their clinical approach. In some cases, they have recorded a downloadable MP3 file further explaining their approach to helping.

Karl Laves, Licensed Counseling Psychologist

Over the years I have discovered that people come to counseling for one of two reasons. Either they know what is making them unhappy and they want to learn how to change it, or they want to figure out what is making them unhappy and then change it. So in either case the person wants something to change....people that don't want to change probably don't need counseling. I think most people want to change something that doesn't need to be changed; that is, the problem that most people have is that they think they have a problem. They don't trust or respect who they are; they spend too much time comparing themselves to others and wishing they could be different. I try to help people figure out what they think is wrong, and then decide if it really is wrong; since most of the time they aren't wrong at all, they just think they are wrong. I encourage people to take risks, to test out new things, and to use their imagination to grow, but not change, their identities. Complaining is a good way to start counseling, but then I like to move to action because I believe we all have more control over our lives than we think. I support the use of medication when appropriate, and I think good food and exercise can always help any kind of anxiety or depression.

Debra Crisp, Licensed Counseling Psychologist

I approach each client as what they are, an individual. I believe that we each are a product of our culture and previous experiences; as a result it important to understand the client in context. I tend to provide a counseling environment that is warm and nurturing with an eye toward helping the client challenge the issues that brought him/her in to counseling. I work each session to put myself out of business because I believe that clients are inherently experts of what they need. My theoretical influences include the client centered work of Rogers, the multicultural theories of Sue & Sue, Parham, Helms, and Cross. I also adhere to interpersonal theory which suggests that the past is an excellent way of understanding the present and sometimes the future.

Betsy Pierce, Licensed Psychological Associate

I believe counseling means working with each person as an individual, with the goal of discovering what is realistic in terms of change, discovery and problem solving. To me it is essential that we each accept our own humanness, making the same allowances for ourselves that we make for others. While there will always be room for us to grow and improve, most of the time we are doing the best we can. Within that knowledge, we can make healthy changes.

Elizabeth Madariaga, Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor

I approach the students I work with on an individual, distinctive perspective. No two people are alike so something that might work for someone, might NOT work for someone else. To me, counseling is finding an expression and being challenged through a safe, comfortable and stimulating environment. Counseling is the opportunity for a person to be real and honest. I’m very eclectic in my approach but often focus on accepting personal responsibility and choices, which is consistent with humanistic theories and reality therapy. I strive for the comfort of the student to build rapport and to focus on the needs of the student.

Todd Noffsinger, Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor

I believe understanding and acceptance are the basis for change. In response, I seek to create a comfortable environment that frees individuals to explore and ultimately develop new ways of being. My approach considers the influence of family and environment in shaping our beliefs and behaviors. Despite the significance of these factors, clients are not bound by their past, but free to create new patterns for living. To facilitate this process, I work primarily from Solution-Focused and systemic theories. I like to incorporate behavioral goals into my practice as I think it is important to carry movement from the counseling environment into the broader context of life. Ultimately, clients are both expert and author of their lives, my goal is to listen, understand, and join in creating solutions.

Brian N. Lee,  Licensed Psychological Associate

Info. coming soon!

Graduate Students:

2013-2014 Mary Ferguson, M.S. -- Psychology Intern

Info. coming soon!

2013-2014 Jennifer Kehoe, M.A., EMT-P -- Psychology Intern

When I begin to work with new clients, I strive to understand what brought them in to therapy and how personal, environmental, and historical factors are affecting them. I focus on building a strong relationship with my clients, because both research and my personal experience has shown that clients are most successful at change when they engage with a therapist who uses empathy and understanding to help them take a look at what is going on in their lives. In addition, I use a variety of evidence based techniques to challenge negative thought processes and help clients work on their relationships with others.

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 Last Modified 8/6/14