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Yelena Sardaryan (AUA MPH 2013): New Counseling Services at AUA a Success

yelenaIn an effort to help American University of Armenia (AUA) students achieve even more academic success, AUA has started a new student service this year. Counseling services are now available to help students overcome a variety of challenges, including personal, relational, family, emotional, and behavioral problems that may interfere with academic performance.

“On the surface, our goal may seem to focus on academic achievements. But we must also address underlying personal challenges in order to have healthy and empowered students who are able to promote their future success. We help students gain better insight into their inner world and become their own advocates,” AUA’s counselor, Yelena Sardaryan, said.

Sardaryan has more than 10 years of experience working as a psychologist in both urban and rural settings; with a variety of groups, including children, young adults, and adults; and with vulnerable populations such as people with disabilities, survivors of sexual and gender-based violence, and internally displaced populations and refugees. Though this is Sardaryan’s first professional experience in an educational setting, her goal as a counselor remains unchanged and is focused on her patient’s personal needs, according to her.

AUA’s counselor has already seen a variety of issues among her student clients, including family and personal problems, difficulties with goal determination and with work-study loads, and issues that include health concerns, low self-esteem, sadness, depression, and anxiety; her efforts are bearing fruit. “The fact that there’s 100% follow-up among clients so far is an indication that the services are necessary for the students,” Sardaryan said, who is also quick to point out that all information shared during counseling sessions is strictly confidential.

Students who seek counseling services are allowed eight free sessions (usually once weekly or every 10 days) that may be extended to a maximum of 15 sessions, in case of need. More serious cases that require long-term therapy, as for example, clients with psychiatric issues, or clients who might experience suicidal thoughts or thoughts of harming others, are given referrals to outside counselors. Students wishing to consult with a male counselor are also referred out. AUA pays for the first session when such referrals are made.

Free counseling services became available to all AUA students starting in the fall of 2015. Sardaryan has been publicizing AUA’s counseling services more widely among students by creating a website and brochures, holding workshops, and informing faculty about the availability of such services for students. New students this year were also given information during their orientation week at the beginning of the academic year about the availability of counseling services.

Sardaryan is available every weekday from 4:15 to 6:15 pm. Students can request one-on-one sessions or can take part in group counseling sessions. Monthly workshops will also be offered at the Center for Student Success. More information is available on the Center for Student Success website, under the Counseling Services tab:http://studentsuccess.aua.am/counseling-services/

Founded in 1991, the American University of Armenia (AUA) is a private, independent university located in Yerevan, Armenia and affiliated with the University of California. AUA provides a global education in Armenia and the region, offering high-quality, graduate and undergraduate studies, encouraging civic engagement, and promoting public service and democratic values.