CSUB opens new counseling center

March 14, 2024 /

California State University Bakersfield (CSUB) now has a new location for the student counseling center, and it’s bigger and better.

On Wednesday, March 6, CSUB held a ribbon cutting and open house event to showcase their new location for the students’ counseling center. You can find the new location next to the Rivendell building among the trees and quiet of the southwest student housing.

The counseling services used to be in the same building as the student health center. For some individuals, the old center felt too clinical and possibly not approachable for the students who needed the mental health services most. The Bakersfield community who attended shared their excitement for the new space that now has an inviting open waiting area where students can grab free refreshments and watch television, large rooms to host new support groups and activities, plus opportunities to socialize with each other.

Eva Perez, a CSUB alumni and staff member who specializes in transfer admissions, stated how shocked she was at the building’s transformation. It was fitted with new paint, furniture, and several rooms that will be occupied by more counseling staff.

“As a staff member, I kind of want to come and hang out here. To come and destress, maybe even get to hang out with students and get to talk to them,” Perez said.

During the open house, several CSUB staff mentioned that students should be encouraged to use all the services on campus that are funded by their tuition dollars, which includes the center.

Many of the providers at the center have also vocalized their efforts to combat negative stigmas around mental health and therapy through positive interactions with the new space. For example, they will be hosting group therapy sessions regarding Latinx experiences, according to the center’s Instagram page.

Perez identifies as Latina and shared that it was difficult to overcome barriers that kept her from starting therapy because it wasn’t always talked about in her household, or referred to in a positive light. Luckily, her experience as a CSUB student at the counseling center has helped her feel comfortable sending current students to get help there too.

“I did use the counseling center myself as a student. So I can understand the need as a student, and I can understand the need also as a staff member because I see it just about every day. When I see either a student’s record or a student comes in frantic that they’re not meeting requirements for admission or graduation- or whatever the case is,” explained Perez.

When students come to Perez’s office needing counseling or extra support she feels confident sending them to the counseling center where they can also guide students on a pathway to graduation with accommodations if necessary.

Ghazal Abbas, a counselor at the center, spoke at the ribbon-cutting ceremony. She is one of the newest counselors at the center and looks forward to bringing programming that will introduce mental health services to immigrants, and other first-generation students like herself.

“I think this is going to be really exciting to have students see what it looks like to go into a counseling center and kind of normalizing that this is also like a self-care space,” Abbas stated.

For Abbas, it’s important to normalize the use of counseling services. The new center will hopefully cultivate engagement and comfort amongst the campus community.

The Multicultural Alliance Gender and Equity Center (MAGEC) is one of the spaces Abbas mentioned where she encourages students to also take advantage of the counseling center. Her main mission is to bring first-generation students and students from MAGEC to the counseling center.

“I wish I knew this, students who come to campus and are enrolled here, their student fees are paying for them to get counseling services,” Abbas continued. “They can come for one session, if they feel like ‘hey I don’t know if this is really for me’ that’s completely fine…at least give it a try.”

Abbas explained that every counselor has different specialties and focuses. For example, Michael Harville, Ph.D. facilitates the Safe Zone Program that promotes allegiances campus-wide to protect the 2SLGBTQ+ community. Go onto the counseling website for full biographies of all the counselors.

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