After interviewing five applicants for a position in the Health and Wellness Center, Director of Counseling Randy Cochran hired Brenda Gunter to serve as Oklahoma Christian University's newest counselor.
Filling the position brings new programming opportunities for the counseling center, and having an extra counselor allows for educational groups and classes.
Cochran said he knew Gunter was the perfect woman for the position, and he was so impressed with Gunter's certification and compassion that he immediately offered her the job.
"Brenda had several years of experience and has a great disposition; she is very warm and engaging," Cochran said. "She's just an all around happy person, and she has a contagious laugh. She is very interested and has a lot of compassion for students."
Gunter is excited about the opportunity to work with college students and feels this job is what God wanted her to do.
"I really enjoy this job, although it is a big change from working with children," Gunter said. "My favorite part of this job is working with the college students; it's challenging."
Although this is Gunter's first job working as a counselor with college students, it is not her first counseling job.
Gunter first worked at Mid Del Youth and Family, where she specialized in children and their families. She then worked at Chisholm Trail Counseling, where she worked with all ages and also did contract work with schools.
Her most recent job was at Sunbeam Family Services, where she served as a counselor and mental health consultant for young children.
This experience is one of the main reasons Cochran decided to hire her for the position. She was a Licensed Professional Counselor and had experience working with children and in mental health centers.
Gunter graduated from Northeastern State University in 1992 with a BA in Psychology. She then went on to graduate school at Abilene Christian University where she graduated in 1994 with a Master of Marriage and Family Therapy. She married her husband Bobby eight years ago, and they currently live in Yukon, Okla.
Cochran has been trying to fill the counseling position since November of 2006 and is grateful he found a female counselor for the position.
"It's really nice to have a female counselor now, because sometimes women don't feel comfortable talking to a male counselor," Cochran said. "Students can be confident that they would be taken seriously by Brenda. She can help them set goals and give them the knowledge to meet those goals."
Gunter is looking forward to the possibility of creating groups where students can discuss anything on their mind. All counseling sessions are confidential, and there are no requirements for attending.
"I think all students should go to counseling; it's a way to be aware of ourselves. Students have a lot to deal with: stress, changes and decisions to make—counseling is here to help them with that," Cochran said. "We would like students to know that the horrible belief that you have to be really messed up in order to go to counseling is incorrect; if that was the case, we would call it a mental health center."
The counseling center strives to help students make decisions —not to tell them what decisions to make.
"Students often fear that they'll come in feeling controlled by us because they think we'll tell them what to do, or pull a Dr. Phil on them," Cochran said. "We don't give students all of the answers. We help students identify for themselves what the best answer would be; we help them clarify it."
Counseling services are offered to students, faculty and staff.
Students receive eight free sessions each semester. Office hours are Monday through Friday from 8 a.m.-5 p.m.