This year, following the departure of a male counselor, the campus’s Bergeron Wellness Center has only one remaining male counselor, compared with two female counselors, and no male nurses or nurse practitioners.
“Having Nick leave was a big loss,” said counselor Sarah Klionsky by email, referring to the departure of Nick Hunter, who resigned from his position to pursue a private counseling business. “He was a full-time clinician here and contributed a lot to our center, both in terms of meeting student needs for counseling and in his general contributions to the culture.”
Although the staff enjoyed having Hunter, Director of Counseling Kathy Butts said that it hasn’t impacted students’ ability to choose whether they want a male or female counselor. “Whenever any student makes a request, we try to accommodate. We have not yet had a situation when we were not able to meet that request.”
Still, she added, Bergeron hopes to expand its staff. “We are very interested in having a diverse staff here at Bergeron, so having another male counselor and a male NP would be great, as would having more diversity on our staff generally.”
For his part, counselor Ryan Stanton, who has been at St. Michael’s since 2012, said that he’s used to working with more women than men but also appreciates having a team that’s as inclusive as possible.
“In my experience, it’s fairly typical in the field,” Stanton said. As it turns out, this gender gap is part of a bigger trend in the field. According to the American Psychological Association, an average of 2.1 female psychologists have entered the market since 2013 for every male.
“I have appreciated teams that are gender diverse, but more specifically, diverse regarding all social identities,” Stanton said.
All three counselors at Bergeron said they see slightly more female than male students and when it comes to finding a good fit for a counselor, gender is clearly not the only consideration.
“The more diverse we can be as a Wellness center, regarding gender identity, sexual orientation, race, ethnicity and ability status, the better,” said Stanton. “Ideally, folks find a good fit with a counselor, [and] are able to create a safe and trusting environment in which to do the work they want to do.”
The counselors typically get busy in the beginning of the semester and towards final exams, and the center typically tries to accommodate all students by placing them with a female or male counselor, depending on their preference.
“The next time we have the opportunity to hire, we will certainly again have a focus on diversifying our staff generally,” said Klionsky.