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Counseling Center Paraprofessionals
Counseling Center Paraprofessional Newsletter | March 2016 Edition

Jump to: CC Staff, CCP Alumni, CCP Spotlight and March Events

Note From the Editors

Happy March! After a two month hiatus, we are back with a new Paraphrase team! We welcome from the Psych 341 class: Erik and Kat, and from the Psych 496 class: Kelsey, Miguel, and Jaridd. We're about halfway through the semester and we hope to provide you with some insight as to what CCPs and CC staff have been up to. New this issue is our Sankofa Outreach Spotlight and Current CCP Spotlight. As always, feel free to reach out if there is anything you'd like to see or know more about. 

Outreach Spotlight: Black Mental Health Week

Sankofa Outreach Team Participates in Black Health and Wellness Week

By Kat Brunhaver, Psych 341 CCP

To mark Black History Month in February, our campus featured programming recognizing the contributions of prominent persons of African ancestry throughout history. Realizing that today’s Black students still face many concerns about discrimination, safety, and health as those who came before them, the second week of February was designated Black Health and Wellness Week.

To kick off the week, The Counseling Center’s Sankofa Black student outreach team co-sponsored an event with Bruce D. Nesbitt African American Cultural Center (BNAACC) and McKinley Health Center entitled, “Black Taboo: Mental Health…What are We Afraid Of?” Community, staff, and students discussed mental health in the Black community. This open-ended, informal conversation aimed to demystify preconceptions about mental health services, provide models for wellness, and educate attendees about mental health resources available on campus. Some of the major topics examined were the effects of racism, microaggressions, and barriers to mental health care. An interesting note was made by a medical professional in attendance about the physical effects of the stressors specific to being Black. In addition, ideas about what therapy or using mental health services means were discussed. For example, the notion that issues within a family should stay within a family, that therapy is only for White people, or that seeking help can be perceived as a sign of weakness were all discussed.

Dr. Kamau Grantham, Clinical Counselor and Sankofa Committee Co-Chair explained, “Research from the American Psychological Association tells us that Black people are at least 20% more likely to experience severe psychological distress than Whites are; however, Black people of all educational levels are much less likely to seek mental health care than other racial groups. Through events like this one, we hope to lower the stigma of asking for help. Most mental health concerns are highly treatable.”

CC Spotlight: Tom Miebach LCSW
"I started last June. I've got one semester under my belt, and I love it." 

By Kelsey Stoecker, Psych 496 CCP

Tom is the Counseling Center's crisis triage case manager and clinical counselor. 

Q: What is your favorite part about crisis work? It’s really rewardingto see someone in a crisiswork with them see them improve and help them through those moments eeping people safe when they feel suicidal is really rewarding.

Q: What is your least favorite part about crisis work? Well the thing about doing crisis work, since you do see people often at their worst, it’s easy to become jaded, and think that nothing ever gets better. This job is different, because I get to follow up with the students and see them get better, but in my old jobs, I would see them in the crisis at the emergency room and then never see them again unless they came back. So it can start to feel like no one ever gets better. So the stress of feeling like what your doing isn’t helping can be a challenge.

Q: This seems like it can be a pretty stressful job. What is your self-care? In my free time, I am a musician; so I like to play music, listen to music, go see live music. It’s kind of my de-stressor. I try to stay healthy. I spend a lot of time with my family and friends. My fiancé, she’s a counselor as well, so it’s nice to have another mental health person to partner with. And just finding time to chill and set boundaries so you don’t think about your job when you get home. It’s a hard lesson to learn.

Q: How would you like to get more involved on the UIUC campus? We all do outreach here and my area of outreach is around what we call distressed and distressing students. So I do a lot of workshops and presentations for faculty and staff around what to do if have a student who is in distress. f a student comes to and says that they’re having thoughts of suicide,  lso outreach to students  suicide prevention is a focus of mine o I would like to get more involved with working with students and getting interested in suicide prevention

Q: How did you become interested in suicide prevention? Actually I took a class hereas an undergraduate. I don’t know if they still have it but it was called “Understanding Suicide”. It was one of those topics in clinical psych courses. I always knew I wanted to work with people with serious mental health problems. It has always just been an interest of mine. That class particularly got me interested in suicide and I’ve been touched by it myself, lost friends to it, so I just wanted to help out.

An additional note from Tom: We are looking to start taking social work interns again. If you are a graduate student in the chool of ocial ork and would like more information about internship opportunities with the Counseling Center, please contact Tom Miebach at

CCP Spotlight: Charlene Miller
Charlene participating in a 496 icebreaker exercise involving being "wrapped like a mummy" by a student. 

By: Miguel Herrera, Psych 496 CCP

Charlene Miller is this year’s CCP Graduate Assistant. She was a CCP and a paid CCP as an undergraduate and is currently earning her master’s degree in human relations from the School of Labor and Industrial Relations.

Q: Tell me a little about yourself as a student. I really care about my grades and achievement; however now that I have an internship, I feel like that’s a more important thing in my life. Not that school isn’t important, but I’m not stressing myself over being perfect. I think that with undergrad, applying for grad school, and grades and such, I felt like I needed to do everything and it was very stressful.  

Q: For anyone who might be interested in studying human resources after college, can you tell me a little about what you’ve been studying so far? There’s a lot of focus on ethics. There are diversity initiatives, using people to the best of their abilities, and helping them achieve what they want to achieve for their own personal growth. I often apply what I’m learning to my CCP students and I think where they want to go and how to get them from point A to point B.

Q: What kind of internship have you secured for the summer? I’ll be interning in California for a biotech company! They make cancer treatment medicine – it’s super cool! Hopefully I’ll get to use a lot of the neuroscience classes I took as an undergrad.

Q: How do you like to spend your free time? I really love to learn and try new things, so that manifests itself in various ways. I like to explore. I enjoy doing new things such as museums and amusement parks, zoos, and such. I just learned how to roll sushi and how to sew. I’ve never been the type of person that sticks to just a couple of things; I’ve always wanted to know a little about everything.

Q: What’s your favorite part of being a graduate assistant for the CCP program? I do more lesson planning and teaching. I really love teaching, like where my responsibilities as a paid CCP included mentorship and supervision. I still get to do that, but on a larger scale. There’s a lot more responsibilities and interaction with students. It’s a lot more fun!  

CCP Alumni Spotlight: Christine Malecki

By Erik Strebel, Psych 341 CCP

Q: What CCP cohort years were you? I am not 100% certain. However, one of my most salient memories was that I was a CCP during the launch of Desert Storm and I had over a dozen friends from high school who were serving in the Middle East in various branches of service. I had sticky notes all over my TV set with their units/ships, etc. and would check them with every CNN newscast. I was asked to attend a draft counseling session as part of my CCP duties and I had a bit of a crisis feeling like my values were at odds with what I was being asked to do. I did attend the meeting and it was an excellent learning experience.

Q: What are you doing now? How did you arrive at the profession you are in? I am a full professor in the Psychology Department at Northern Illinois University. I am the Director of Clinical Training for our School Psychology graduate program. We have a MA/Specialist-level program and a PhD program—information about the program can be found here.

Q: What are you passionate about? I love working with my graduate students and helping them develop into successful professionals. I love research, teaching, and service and have found excellent "flow" in my career as a professor.  I am even more passionate about my family. I have been married for 21 years to a man I met at UIUC and we have three awesome kids who are 18, 15, and 12. Watching them develop into teens and young adults has been a joy.

Q: Tell us a fun fact about yourself! My 15 year old son has autism and brings joy to our lives every day.  Even in our challenging times, there is purity in his approach to the world that I think everyone could learn from. Another fun fact is that I was a bartender at O'Malley's, a bar that is long gone from the UIUC scene, but one that is well-remembered and loved by folks of my era. Just ask them what song they played at midnight at O'Malley's (American Pie).

Q: Any words of advice to current CCPs? As you launch into your careers, live within or under your means. Take as much pleasure (or more) from saving money as you do from spending it. Also, find a career where you feel a lightness walking into the building every day... where you feel happy going to work every day.  

March Events

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Tuesday @ 7: Don't Encumber Your Slumber: Tips & Tricks to Upkeep Your Sleep

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

6:30 pm InterConnect Dinner and Dialogue Series: The Art of Salary Negotiation in the U.S.

8:00 pm INNER VOICES Social Issues Theatre: Tell It & Side Eye

Thursday, March 3, 2016

9:00 am - 12:00 pm Advanced Ally Training

8:00 pm INNER VOICES Social Issues Theatre: Tell It & Side Eye

Friday, March 4, 2016

5:00 pm INNER VOICES Social Issues Theatre: Tell It & Side Eye

8:00 pm INNER VOICES Social Issues Theatre: Tell It & Side Eye

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

7:00 pm Tuesday @ 7: Evaluating Your Priorities: Time Management Without Judgment 

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

7:00 pm INNER VOICES Social Issues Theatre: Side Eye 

Thursday, March 10, 2016

12:00 pm - 12:45 pm Test Anxiety Drop-In Workshop

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

7:00 pm Tuesday @ 7: Making Cents of It All: Your Guide to Money Management

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

6:30 pm InterConnect Dinner and Dialogue Series: Relationships 102 

Thursday, March 17, 2016

8:00 pm INNER VOICES Social Issues Theatre: Tell It and Side Eye

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

1:00 pm - 4:00 pm Transgender Ally Training

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

7:00 pm Tuesday @ 7: Blazing New Paths: Tips for First Generation College Students