Trevecca Counseling Center will have a new home with start of new semester

Returning students will notice a few changes to campus when they return for the Fall 2017 semester, but one of the biggest is the relocation of Trevecca’s Counseling Center.

The center is moving from the Bud Robinson Building to the Smith House, which has been newly renovated. Thoughtfully designed to create a healing and comfortable environment for clients, the three-level building will be fully dedicated to counseling services.

“We’re excited because it gave us an opportunity to create a really warm space for students,” said Jenn Neely, coordinator of vocational and counseling engagement. “One of the positive things about moving is we have been able to make design choices to where we can create a space that is really conducive to counseling. The new center also has great views with all the green space in the back, so if you like nature that’s a plus.”

Previously seven offices in the Bud Robinson Building were used for counseling services, which was sufficient in the past. However, as Trevecca’s enrollment has grown, so has the need for student services, such as counseling.

“There was no room for us to expand,” said Dr. Sara Hopkins, director of Trevecca’s counseling services. “We have quadrupled in size since I’ve been here and were in desperate need of more office space. The Smith House gave us this opportunity.”

The counseling staff is excited about the additional space, which will allow them to expand existing programs, such as group therapy, psychoeducational groups and other services for students.

“We are going to have a group room where therapy groups will have their own space,” Neely said. “We want to help create a culture on campus that’s group-friendly and community-focused. These gatherings could be anything from students who are homesick to students that want to learn how to manage their emotions.”

The center’s new home has been specifically designed with its purpose in mind. Counseling staff has taken special care to plan every aspect of the design, from color, furniture, and even lighting. Neely says that the center won’t be generic, and the rooms will all be different in design.

“We haven’t seen all the furniture yet, but we have had a major say in choosing things,” she said.

The staff is grateful for Trevecca’s Plant Ops department. Hopkins says the department’s cooperation and hard work over the summer has allowed Trevecca to create a space perfectly tailored to meet students’ counseling needs.

“The little things matter for clinicians,” Hopkins said. “For instance fluorescent lights are horrible for counseling, so we don’t have any fluorescent lights in the building. We’ve been able to have a voice design-wise because Plant Ops has been so helpful.”

Sara Bowen, a graduate of Trevecca’s graduate counseling program, is also helping to design the center. Bowen is a licensed marriage and family therapist and at one time served as a counselor at the Trevecca Counseling Center. She now owns a furniture store and her knowledge of both counseling and design has been a great resource for the counseling staff as they’ve made decisions about the center’s design.

Students may also notice a new face around the Trevecca’s expanded counseling center. Doc Holiday is Hopkins’ one-year old Frenchton who is in training to become a certified therapy dog. Even though he won’t be involved in sessions yet, Hopkins says clients may run into him while visiting the center.

“He is a very playful dog and very social as well,” Neely said. “This morning I walked up to him and was like ‘Hey, buddy how you are doing?’ and he patiently waited for me to approach and pet him. He is a very gentle dog.”

The staff wants the counseling center to be an inviting space for students, faculty and staff across the campus. While the internal spaces will be completed by the start of the fall semester, a large back porch—open and available for the Trevecca community to use—will be added by early September.

“It will be a covered porch, and a pretty large space,” Neely said. “This will be a space that students can use at any time. It will have the best view on campus, if you like the sight of nature.”

The staff is planning an open house event after the start of the semester so that students, faculty and staff can see what the new center has to offer.

“Come and check us out,” Neely said. “Hopefully there will be something for everybody to enjoy at the center!”

By Princess Jones
Media contact: Mandy Crow,, 615-248-1695