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The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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SCS introduces online counseling platform

Students dealing with anxiety and depression now have immediate access to counseling services at their fingertips with a new online counseling platform offered by Student Counseling Services (SCS).
The Therapy Assistance Online (TAO) program is a online platform that gives students the opportunity to work through an online course that can help them deal with the trials of being a college student. TAO began taking pilot clients over the summer and is now a full-fledged program.
Students in need of counseling can register for an intake session to meet with a counselor through the SCS website. During that session, a counselor will decide which type of counseling is best for each student, said SCS counselor Danielle Pompilli. If the counselor determines the student can benefit from the TAO program, the student is then able to access it online.
“TAO is an online platform that students can use that addresses concerns related to anxiety or depression,” Pompilli said. “It’s a way to teach different coping skills about anxiety or depression in a self-monitored way.”
In many ways, TAO is similar to an online class. However, the lessons taught through TAO will help students to overcome problems that might hinder them from being their best self, said Pompilli.
“You can go through different modules, videos, worksheets and activities. You really get a grasp on skills on how to cope with things,” Pompilli said. “What’s really great is once a week you get to check in with your counselor via a video conference tool through the TAO website, which is secure and HIPAA compliant.”
SCS counselor Katie Mahan said the confidentiality requirements for in-person counseling are the same for TAO.
“We provide for their confidentiality here by making sure that we are alone in the room and we do ask that students provide for their own confidentiality as well,” Mahan said.
Students who have used TAO say they have seen positive results in their own life, both in the everyday and scholastically.
“The sessions were helpful and very easy to follow along with,” said one TAO client. “I liked that they provided information and then had me apply it to my life. I really liked having a counseling session over the webcam because I didn’t even have to leave my house.”
Another TAO client said the TAO counselor recommended calming strategies to help during stressful situations.
“I was ‘freaking out’ before a quiz and then made use of the breathing strategies,” the TAO client said. “I felt much more relaxed and had stopped panicking. It was such a nice feeling that my thoughts weren’t racing anymore.”
Counselors who have used TAO say they have seen positive results with the students they’ve had the chance to work with.
“One of the pros of TAO specifically is that it offers flexibility for students,” Mahan said. “It saves them time not having to come here, having easier access to the counselor, and the check in session is 10 to 15 minutes. The idea is that they are able to learn this material on their own and then they can talk to their counselor about ways they can apply it to their life more generally.”
The counselors who have used TAO this summer are excited to continue to use it this fall.
“In my opinion, I think TAO has a lot of potential,” said SCS counselor Gisela Lin. “TAO provides a lot of practical tools for those students who wish to learn practical skills in helping themselves deal with their symptoms of anxiety or depression. Students can get a feel for what fits them the best and continue implementing those skills in their daily lives to improve their overall wellness.”
SCS is located at Student Houses at White Creek, and can be contacted at 979-845-4427 or [email protected].  The SCS Helpline number is 979-845-2700 and is available overnight  weekdays and 24 hours a day on weekends.
The identities of the students utilizing TAO services have been left anonymous in accordance with the Privacy Rule under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, HIPAA.

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