Counselors needed for center staff

Tyler McNulty, Staff Writer

On Pitt-Johnstown’s campus, there are approximately 2,700 students. For that population, there are three full-time counselors. 

During a Sept. 10 student government meeting, Health and Counseling Director Shelley Peruso said there is a shortage of campus counselors. 

“It’s not a secret that we are understaffed,” she said. 

Peruso said, since the start of the semester, there has been between 285 and 330 student cases. 

“That’s a little over 10 percent of the student population,” Peruso said. 

She also said Jessica Quigley is to take a leave at the start of the spring semester for six weeks, and Laura Perry-Thomson, the temporary counselor, is to leave Pitt-Johnstown at the end of this semester. 

Peruso said without Perry-Thompson’s help, she doesn’t know how her or Quigley would have managed. 

Peruso said she is working on hiring a temporary counselor, which could potentially turn into a full-time position. 

She said her ideal staff is to have four working in the department; three full-time counselors and the director. 

Peruso added that, with extra counselors, she would like to start having group counseling sessions focusing on a specific topic. 

Peruso said, in addition to seeing students weekly, she also attends weekly division meetings and follows up on all submitted care reports. 

She said, with two other counselors, it would free up her caseload, allowing her to focus on more administrative tasks.  

Peruso also said former Counseling Director Theresa Horner did not have a caseload and focused only on the administrative responsibilities. 

However, she said, when more counselors come on full-time, she would still see students, just not as many. 

Peruso said each counselor sees about six or seven students daily. 

“The industry standard is about five clients or students a day,” she said. 

Peruso also said the average wait time from a student requesting to see a counselor to their first meeting is about one to two days. 

“But, we try to get in students as soon as possible, and we work with their schedules,” Peruso said. 

Student Affairs Vice President Chris Stumpf also attended the meeting. 

He said he wanted to make it clear Pitt-Johnstown administrators were not being too cheap to hire a new counselor. 

“It’s a lot of supply and demand. Good counselors are quite expensive,” Stumpf said.

Peruso said she did some research about other college’s counseling centers. 

Additionally, she said Pitt-Greensburg only has one counseling director who takes on most of the cases.