The millennial generation has been called many names, the newest being the “anxious generation”. As a way to help aid students in their fight against anxiety, UWG adapted the Therapist Assisted Online program (TAO). TAO is an internet based cognitive behavior therapy program that was made to be more convenient for the average college student trying to balance life and school.
TAO started at the University of Florida and is now available at many universities in the south. “We were one of the early adapters of the program 2 years ago,” said Warren Windsor, Electronic Delivery Counselor at UWG. “It was started by the clinical director at the University of Florida.”
Dr. Sherry Benton of the University of Florida had the idea for the program after seeing how many students were on the waiting list for the counseling center at the university. Benton thought that by hiring more counselors, she would see an improvement but after only two weeks, the waiting list was back up. She knew other countries had experimented in online therapy sessions with modules and video session but she knew no one in the U.S had tried it yet so she decided it was worth a try.
The program is available 24/7 and is used to help patients learn how to ease their anxiety. Not only does it offer full access to a counselor, it has a plethora of games and activities to help guide students in their fight. The Scale Activities is one of their favorites. They display two balancing scales on the screen, one is marked “Positive” and the other “Negative.” The game allows you to type different experienced that you have encountered in your life and rate them on a scale from 1-5 on how much they affected you then you choose whether the experience was positive or negative. It is used to help the used visualize the balance between good and bad things that occurs in their lives.
Before TAO was invented, students seeing a therapist had to write in a daily log about the things that made them anxious and the ways they tried to overcome the feeling. At the end of the week, they were to take the log into their weekly counseling session to talk about their week. Although this was a great approach, it was not successful among the students. “If I gave a client a journal assignment and told them to write down everything that made them feel anxious during the week, what usually happens is the student forgets and starts writing in their journal while they’re in the waiting room,” said Windsor. “That doesn’t help them.”
Now, students are able to write in their log online, which is more convenient for the student on the go. “TAO is designed to be done anytime, anywhere,” said Windsor. “It can be done on any of your electronic devices and it’s designed to be done in short seconds.”
TAO is not mandatory for every student involved in anxiety counseling. In order for a student to get started with TAO, the student will first have to make an appointment at the counseling center. During the counseling session, they take the assessment. Decisions on the best form of therapy are then discussed. If it is decided that TAO is the best option for you then you gain access to the site.
Since anxiety is more prevalent on college campuses, TAO is a great program to help ease the disorder. It is a more convenient form of therapy than face-to-face meetings and has proven to be more efficient in most cases.
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