Thursday, September 29, 2011

Wellness Center welcomes new counselors

By Jenna Capelle
Cardinal Staff

Two new counselors joined Saint Mary’s University’s Jay Johnson Wellness Center staff last August.

As new faces on campus, Drs. Holly Courtenay and Jeff Walter are anticipating meeting as many students as possible as the school year moves forward.

Walter hopes that students do not hesitate to use the counseling services provided at SMU.

“Students should know that you don’t have to be in an extreme crisis to meet with a counselor,” said Walter.

On a typical day, Walter meets with individuals and couples for counseling, attends meetings, teaches a College Success Strategies class for the Path to Academic Success (PASS) program and gives presentations about different mental health topics, in addition to many other responsibilities. Last week he gave a presentation about overcoming the fear of public speaking.

“I like that my job at [SMU] keeps me on my toes,” said Walter. “I’m not doing the same thing every day.”

Courtenay says she is inspired by how many students utilize the Jay Johnson Wellness Center on campus. She enjoys meeting with students one-on-one and helping them with their problems, consulting with faculty and staff, giving presentations and starting ADHD testing, among other responsibilities.

Throughout the school year, Courtenay hopes to implement new kinds of programs like stress reduction activities and art therapy.

“I’m a huge advocate of art therapy,” said Courtenay. “I think the students would greatly benefit from it.”

According to Courtneay, students’ lives can become hectic when juggling classes, athletics, club activities and social events, and sometimes they can forget to take care of themselves. Courtenay hopes to help students stay healthy.

“Students sometimes forget that mental health is as important as physical health,” said Courtenay.

Outside of their cozy offices, the counselors are advisors of two clubs on campus. Courtenay is the advisor of the new club “Advocates 4 Abilities,” which strives to bring awareness about different mental and physical disabilities. Walter is a co-advisor of the Yoga Club, which meets on Mondays and Wednesdays in the dance studio at 7:30 p.m.

Students who are interested in using the Jay Johnson Wellness Center’s facilities can visit the office located in the basement of the Toner Student Center across from the Residence Life office. Appointments can be made at the front desk or by emailing the counselors at or

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