Student Affairs

Managing Our Anxiety About Student Anxiety

Duration: One hour
Facilitator: Dr. Lee Burdette Williams & Dr. Kathryn Dingman Boger
Price: $50.00

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In recent years, anxiety disorders have become prevalent among our students .  Many students with significant anxiety seek treatment from campus mental health practitioners, but it is becoming a more frequent occurrence that students disclose and seek support from non-clinical professionals on campus, including faculty, residential life staff and advisors.  How should one respond when a student shares that s/he/they “have anxiety”?  A referral to the counseling center may be unnecessary, as the student may already be using that service.  The student is seeking understanding, empathy, and perhaps accommodation.  But should non-clinical staff engage with students around mental health concerns?  If so, what do those staff and faculty members need to understand about anxiety disorders and their treatment?

The best practices for managing anxiety have been developed primarily in clinical settings, although student affairs professionals tend to have limited exposure to this literature and experience.  Bringing some commonly-accepted strategies for anxiety management into student life settings (the classroom, the advising office, the residence hall) may provide a stronger network of assistance for students.  Some of these strategies include: cognitive coping, mindfulness, relaxation, deep breathing, and exposure.  A likely result of this increased awareness by staff and faculty of common clinical strategies may be improvement in staff members’ ability to connect with students and support them in their struggles, potentially increasing students’ willingness to engage with their campus in ways that engender positive emotional growth.

This session will:

  1. Pprovide participants with some basic information about anxiety disorders: definitions, symptoms, causes, methods of response and treatment
  2. Help staff delineate clinical and non-clinical roles
  3. Share evidence-based strategies for helping students with anxiety issues manage the many responsibilities and experiences of college life.

The session will have three parts:

  1. Initial introduction to the prevalence of anxiety on campuses
  2. A more extensive discussion of anxiety and its treatment (and how non-clinical staff and faculty can support that treatment)
  3. Aan opportunity for questions from participants

Learning outcomes:

  1. Learning Outcome 1:  Participants will learn about common anxiety disorders, their increased prevalence and related challenges.
  2. Learning Outcome 2: Participants will better understand the importance of setting limits for their support of students with anxiety.
  3. Learning Outcome 3:  Participants will learn several techniques and strategies for responding to students whose anxiety is hindering their academic work and social interactions, including ways to effectively set limits and offer support.

Who should attend:

Any staff member or faculty member who interacts with students in a setting in which a student's anxiety may be an issue will find this program helpful.

Presenter biography:

Lee Burdette Williams, Ph.D., is a writer and educator who previously served as the Vice President for Student Affairs at Wheaton College and Dean of Students at the University of Connecticut. She is currently the Director of Higher Education Training and Development for the College Autism Network and an instructor at the University of Vermont.

 Kathryn Dingman Boger, Ph.D., is a clinical psychologist and Director of the McLean Anxiety Mastery Program in Cambridge, MA. She is an instructor at Harvard Medical School.

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