Taking The Step - Geneva College
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Taking The Step

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Kelsey McFarland ’21 transferred to Geneva College for her sophomore year of college. Not only did she switch schools, but switched majors. New school, new state, and a new study made for a lot of change in a short amount of time.

Kelsey began her college journey at Ohio University in Exercise Physiology. At Geneva, she made the switch to Elementary & Special Education. General courses were enjoyable and she was doing well in classes. As Kelsey got deeper into her major classes she enjoyed them, but they were becoming a lot more challenging.

Naturally a homebody, although Kelsey enjoyed Geneva, she found herself feeling a lot of anxiety being away from home. Homesickness and anxiety are feelings that often deeply affect college students.

In the spring of 2020, her second year at Geneva, just before COVID hit, Kelsey decided to give counseling a try at Geneva’s Counseling Services. At the time Kelsey was struggling with relationship issues, anxiety, and depression.

“Counseling for me involved a lot of talking and sharing things that I had built up and never really talked about out loud. I realized I had been shutting myself in and not talking to many people. Counseling opened me up to view things differently and realize what was hurting me.”

A unique part of Kelsey’s counseling experience was each semester she used counseling services she had a different counselor. Kelsey points to this as an extremely beneficial part of her experience because each counselor’s strengths met her right where she was at during each time.

“It was clear that God placed those different people in my life at the right time.”

When she returned in the fall of 2020, she found herself dealing with high levels of stress and motivation issues. A friend shared about a time when she was having a similar issue and went to counseling. After hearing about this experience, Kelsey decided to go back.

“This time Toby was my counselor. He was very encouraging and motivational. We talked and worked through a lot and went through a lot of verses, quotes, and exercises to help calm me down and motivate me. Toby is such a down-to-earth person. He didn’t try to push me, instead, he took the time to really understand where I was at and was very patient with me.”

The next semester Kelsey’s motivation was a lot better, but with graduation closing in she was feeling a lot of stress and anxiety.

“This time I had Hannah and she really pushed me out of my comfort zone. She had me pull back and talk about past semesters. I thought I was fine but doing this showed me a lot of the emotions I was currently feeling went back to prior issues I hadn’t fully resolved. It was nice to hear this point of view and a different perspective.”

Kelsey’s final semester, fall of 2021, she had Sarah as her counselor.

“This time I didn’t jump right in. I waited a couple months. I kept feeling like there were other people who needed counseling more than I did and I didn’t want to take up their time. I was in

student teaching at the time so my hours didn’t line up with their availability. I felt bad about going in again.”

Kelsey shared how Sarah made her schedule work and was flexible to meet her needs.

“With Sarah it was really easy to open up because she shared a lot about herself too. It was nice to know that she had gone through similar things as well. She gave me many tools and exercises to guide me through my healing journey. It ended up being the most honest with myself I had ever been.”

One thing that remained constant through all of Kelsey’s experiences with Geneva counselors was the faith integration. Something she appreciates was that before the sessions all the counselors would ask if she wanted verses and the Bible included in sessions and if it was okay if they prayed with her.

“I love that they asked and worked to integrate it, but never forced it. It made me feel like they really cared for me when they asked and when they prayed for me.”

Geneva’s Counseling Services is available to all students. Mental wellness is something taken very seriously at Geneva. College is a wonderful time for many but is also accompanied by stress, relationships, mental strain, and lots of other difficulties. When asked, Kelsey shared this piece of advice for current students.

“I would encourage anyone to give counseling a try. I am so glad I took the jump and I wouldn’t have gone if other people hadn’t pushed me to try it. I always encourage people to try it out and to always have someone to talk to. I didn’t feel like my problems were as big as other people’s. It is really important to know that even if it is one assignment or one problem you are really stressed about you can go in just for that. You don’t have to go over a long period of time. Nothing is too small.”

Kelsey still uses the tools and exercises she learned in counseling and, although there were difficult things to work through, is grateful for her time at Geneva.

“One of my favorite things about Geneva is the ability to have great relationships with professors and know they are invested in me and praying for me. It was refreshing to know I was surrounded by people who knew Jesus, loved him, and wanted others to know Him too.”

Geneva works to be a true kingdom community that is welcoming, supportive, and refining. Counseling Services is a tangible expression of serving one another and bearing one another’s burdens.

If you or someone you know is struggling with stress, anxiety, loneliness, homesickness, depression, or anything else, please talk to someone or reach out to Geneva Counseling Services. Learn more about our services at: www.geneva.edu/student-life/services/counseling-center.

Jan 13, 2023

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