Robert Miller, the director of Riverwood Counseling Associates in downtown Stevens Point, has agreed to conduct four pro-bono counseling sessions per week to assist the overflow of students at the university who are in need of immediate counseling.
Alyssa Oltmanns, the Gender and Sexuality Outreach Coordinator for the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point, serves students from the lesbian gay bisexual and transgender communities as well as sexual assault victims and students struggling with their identity.
When she noticed that students were being turned down from the UWSP counseling center and were also unable to pay for outside counseling sessions, she made it a priority to get them the help they need.
Oltmanns reached out to the Riverwood Counseling Center first because Miller is a licensed counselor who is familiar with students. His qualifications caught Oltmanns’ eye and he volunteered to help after she explained the need for a long-term councelor.
“It was a far-fetched kind of dream thing, I didn’t expect to get a response so quickly,” Oltmanns said. “Robert is a gracious guy who believes in helping, and he has a personality that jives well with college students.”
Miller, a licensed professional councelor and substance abuse counselor, has volunteered to conduct four free hour-long appointments each week for any of the students Oltmanns serves.
“Alyssa made it clear there is a need and students aren’t being served, and if I can provide assistance there, I’ll do it,” said Miller.
Oltmanns’ explained the UWSP Counseling Center is unable to meet all of the students needs due to a combination of low staff numbers and a large campus population.
“There is a high demand on campus for counseling services. The center usually focuses on helping students with short-term needs,” Oltmanns said. “With Miller teaming up to help out, I can make referrals to him for students who are unable to get an appointment here.”
With the long wait for appointments through the UWSP Counseling Center, Miller is able to meet with students sooner.
“Most likely, I’ll be able to get students in the same week they request an appointment. I have the time to do it and I’m happy to help,” Miller said.
Prior to living in Stevens Point, Miller worked as a high school counselor and then transitioned to working in residential and patient programs in Colorado for chemically dependent individuals. He is very experienced in working with youths and adolescents and is willing to accommodate UWSP students.
“I had a professor in grad school who encouraged volunteerism and giving back to the community and I agree with that philosophy. Helping students at UWSP is the right thing to do,” Miller said.
Counseling is an outlet for people that keeps them safe and gives them the care they need.
“I suffered from depression in college and I want people to know they can get better before they get worse. Our goal is to get students to make it through college triumphantly,” Oltmanns said.
Not only is Oltmanns excited about the opportunity, but student on campus applaud Miller for going out of his way to service students.
“For some reason the university doesn’t have the resources to help all of the students and the thought that he is volunteering hours is very generous,” said UWSP junior Katherine Larson.
“It isn’t his job to help the university, so the fact that he is stepping up is admirable,” said sophomore Haley Vanderhill.
The new partnership between Miller and Oltmanns will be most beneficial to students seeking counseling help and are unable to receive it through the university.
For more information or a referral, contact Alyssa Oltmanns by phone at (715) 346-2596 or by email at Alyssa.Oltmanns@uwsp.edu.