NMSU CEP department using telehealth to reach clients


Mitchell Allred

The CEP clinic gives students the opportunity to gain hands-on experience.

The Department of Counseling and Educational Psychology at New Mexico State University implemented online counseling sessions the week of April 6 to continue helping their clients during quarantine.

Assistant Professor of CEP Tracie Hitter said she approached her co-workers with the idea of moving counseling sessions provided through the department’s clinic online when NMSU began to implement stricter guidelines to combat the spread of COVID-19.

“A lot of the mental health professionals over the last several years have more and more been using telehealth and after the stay at home order and NMSU shifting to online we needed something to be able to continue services to the clients we were seeing and make sure our trainees were able to finish out the semester,” Hitter said.

When Hitter mentions telehealth, she is referring to the umbrella term for providing medical or mental health services through phone or other online services. In the department’s case, they implemented the Zoom health care option that is said to provide an extra layer of protection and security. This comes with the idea that it will be more convenient for their clients to use as NMSU is using Zoom to conduct online classes.

The CEP department first began working on implementing this service the week of March 23 and began informing current clients via email and phone calls to give them an opportunity to continue their sessions.

Along with calling previous clients, Hitter also explained that they are asking professors who conduct mini-semesters to offer extra credit to students who check out their online services as a way to reach out to anyone who possibly needs assistance.

NMSU student Mai Romero expressed her relief when asked about the opportunity for students to take their counseling sessions online or over the phone.

“It definitely helps,” Romero said. “There’s all this new stress and anxiety with having to stay home that’s added onto old problems, that enhances them and just being able to continue and talk out your problems really, really helps.”

Clients are not the only ones relieved by this opportunity. According to Hitter, the department’s counselors in training expressed anxiety about not being able see their clients and also having to learn an entirely new system needed to conduct their practice.

“They have the added layer of being in training but then they’re also trying to learn a new system that we just implemented, so yeah there’s anxiety,” Hitter said. “I know that they’re ultimately learning something is going to really help them, but certainly they’re nervous. They’re also excited to be able to see their clients again though, because you know they’d felt bad about not being able to help them the past couple of weeks.”

More information about counseling through the CEP department is provided on their website.

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