Individual counseling is at the heart of the services offered by the Counseling and Testing Center. Seven full time clinicians and two pre-doctoral student and four 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 and some come in for a single session and are referred out for additional services.
While each clinician brings their own, unique approach to helping, the WKU Counseling and Testing Center has strong commitment to providing clinically appropriate, effective treatment in a caring, supportive and developmentally sensitive manner.
Below, each of the seven 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.
Brian Van Brunt, Licensed Professional Counselor
I approach my clients from a perspective of attempting to understand their troubles
from their unique experience. Generally speaking, people come to therapy because they
are seeking someone to understand them and their difficulties. It is through this
understanding, this creation of a safe, nurturing place---where people can talk honestly
about their problems and explore their past. This is key to achieving a sense of balance
and peace in their lives.
These ideas are central in the theories of Carl Rogers, existential-humanistic theory and focus of treating students with a sense respect, unconditional positive regard and with a genuine, realness from the counselor.
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.
Eric Manley, Licensed Professional Counselor
My approach to helping is to create an atmosphere of non-judgment, demonstrating unconditional positive regard for my clients, and building trust in the counseling relationship. I have found that this helps clients to gain insight into their concerns. This allows clients to generate options for solving their problems and also to develop skills to cope with difficulty and to fully develop as a person.
Elizabeth Madariaga, Licensed Professional 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, Emerging Services Clinician
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.
Stacy Golman, M.A.- Psychology Intern
I grew up in a suburban town in New York. I spent a glorious four years at Binghamton University completing my undergraduate work. Then, I moved to Scranton, Pennsylvania where I enrolled in the Clinical Psy.D. Program at Marywood University. I think living in Scranton made me a fan of The Office, which I now watch religiously. I joined the Counseling and Testing Center in August 2012 as a pre-doctoral intern. I have a feeling that I will not miss those northern winters. Hopefully, with the warmer weather I will be able to spend more time outdoors playing tennis, going for walks, and taking trips to explore the beautiful Kentucky state parks.
Corey Gifford, M.S.- Psychology Intern
I joined the Counseling & Testing Center in August or 2012 as a pre-doctoral clinical psychology intern. I am a graduate of the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth and finishing my doctoral degree at Antioch University New England in Keene, New Hampshire. I love working with university students and love to learn. I am friendly and like building relationships with new people. I enjoy spending time with friends, family, running, cooking, rock-climbing, sports, traveling, and visiting new cultures.
Tara Holaday, B.A.- Psychology Intern
I have lived in Kentucky for most of my life. I am a proud graduate of Bowling Green High School (Go Purples!) and Transylvania University (the first college west of the Allegheny Mountains and a college undefeated in football since 1941). I am currently a Clinical Psychology Master's student at WKU. I love that my position at the Counseling and Testing Center gives me the opportunity to help people work through their problems while simultaneously helping them to realize and develop their strengths! In my spare time, I enjoy running with my two dogs, practicing hot yoga, and eating Italian food.
Dana Larson, B.A. - Psychology Intern
I am originally from North Carolina and went to undergraduate at Appalachian State University in the mountains of NC., where I majored in English and Psychology. I am currently in the Clinical Psychology Master's program at WKU and am concentrating on depression and uncertainty. I am very excited to work with the Counseling and Testing Center to help people work through their problems and realize their strengths! I love to read, watch trashy reality television, and cook or try new foods. I also love to spend time at the Humane Society playing with the various cats and dogs.
Kim Pearson, B.S. - Counseling & Student Affairs Intern
In my undergrad, I studied Psychology and Religious Studies at Virginia Commonwealth University. I then moved from Richmond, Virginia to Bowling Green to pursue my Masters in Marriage and Family Therapy. I currently work at the Talley Family Counseling Center in addition to my internship here at the Counseling and Testing Center. My hobbies include going out to dinner, exercising, listening to her Adele station on Pandora, meditation, outdoor adventures, playing with my animals, attending concerts, and spending time with my loved ones. I am interested in working with minority, interracial, and same-sex couples. I believe the key to effective counseling is simply understanding that we learn to become better versions of ourselves through our honest, open interactions with others.
Lori Marklin, B.A- Social Work Intern
I recently graduated from WKU with my Bachelors in Sociology with a minor in Criminology. I am now pursuing my Masters in Social Work, and I am looking forward to gaining experience under the WKU Counseling and Testing Center. I am an outgoing person that enjoys having fun no matter what I'm doing. I love spending time with my family and friends, playing games, and watching movies. I try to maintain a positive attitude in life because I am a firm believer that everything happens for a reason!