November 12, 2012

Gannett Counseling Director Recognized with Lifetime Achievement Award

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Dr. Gregory Eells, director of counseling and psychological services at Gannett Health Services, was recently recognized as an outstanding member in his field by an international organization — an honor reflective of Eells’ accomplishments, according to fellow Gannett officials.

The Association for University and College Counseling Center Directors — whose membership includes directors from more than 700 schools around the world — presented Eells with a Lifetime Achievement Award last month, citing his “outstanding service, leadership and scholarship” in the field of psychological counseling.

Eells served as the association’s president from 2007 to 2009.

The Lifetime Achievement Award is a recognition of “Eells’ innovative strategies” in balancing the demands of both individuals and the broader campus community, according to Sharon Dittman, associate director of community relations at Gannett.

At colleges, counseling centers must strike a balance between the two, she said.

“The award also recognizes the successes of Cornell’s program,” according to Dittman. Many of Eells’ contributions to the counseling field include programs he started at Cornell, she said.

Specifically, the AUCCCD lauded Eells’ innovative strategies in applying a triage system to college-level counseling centers, according to a statement from the organization. Cornell operates a Brief Assessment program — an appointment scheduling system modeled after medical triaging, whereby students with the most urgent mental health needs are given first priority for Gannett services.

“Many colleges use a first-come-first-serve model. The Brief Assessment system allows Gannett to allocate resources more efficiently by scheduling students based on need,” Eells said.

Eells’ paper on the Brief Assessment program — titled The Implementation of Mental Health Clinical Triage Systems in University Health Services — is “one of the most cited articles” in the Journal of College Student Psychotherapy, according to Dittman. She said other college counseling programs have adapted and applied Eells’ model to their own campuses.

Another of Eells’ “frequently imitated” projects in the field of college mental health is “Let’s Talk,” a free program at Cornell through which Gannett counselors are available at various locations on campus throughout the week for walk-in consultations, Dittman said.

According to Eells, the informality of the program is designed to draw in students who may be too intimidated to seek support from Gannett directly through Counseling and Psychological Services, according to Eells. He added that the program can be a resource for students who feel that they only need intermittent counseling.

To date, 30 other schools have added a program modeled after “Let’s Talk” to their campuses, according to Eells.

“[Eells] is one of the best teachers in the country around issues related to college student mental health services. He’s highly sought after for presentations and consultations,” Dittman said.

Original Author: Erin Ellis