During the week of March 24 – 30, 2014, the Loyola campus community will host our first annual Compassionate Campus initiative.   This program, spearheaded by Loyola’s HEAL (Health Education at Loyola) committee, was inspired by the work of Karen Armstrong and her TED talk on increasing interfaith dialogue through an emphasis on compassion.  Her message touts that living as a compassionate university and acting out compassion happens in small moments, transformative moments and ongoing action.  Thus, the Loyola campus community will be mindful and active in doing and noticing acts of compassion during our Compassionate Campus week.

Beginning on March 24, a large campus map of Loyola will be displayed in the first floor of the Danna Student Center for Loyola students, faculty and staff to place a “pin” on the location where an act of compassion was observed.  A white board will be available to list the acts of compassion.  In addition, Karen Armstrong’s TED talk will be playing in the one loyola room and a poster will be available for individuals to write personal statements of compassion.

The Compassionate Campus initiative has touched people in communities and institutions around the globe.  We are excited to illustrate our Jesuit vision of living by the principle of compassion through this campus event.

-Logan Williamson
Health and Education at Loyola (HEAL) Committee

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As an amateur musician, I have come to understand that there are many ways to play the same notes.  We can read and talk about playing music or performing, but it takes multiple attempts and failures to get it right.  I have found this to generalize to life as well.  Often I talk to people who are worried about failing at their jobs or schoolwork or relationships and they spend more time thinking and analyzing than doing.  It is the doing and tolerating the doing that is worthwhile.  It may sound simple to say, but doing can be difficult.  You have to face your novice status headlong with the perception of yourself of being capable of the task.

As an example, I play guitar and love this one song.  I can play it a variety of different ways and it can evoke a wide range of emotions.  Recently, I learned a different method to play the same song.

It involved changing the tuning of my guitar and playing all new chords.  Same song, same words, but I suddenly felt like I had never played this song before – despite having played it for literally hours in the past.  I had to come to grips (again) that I still have a lot to learn, even when playing a song that I have loved for years.

This can be the same with life’s transitions as well.  Despite spending almost every waking moment in school, doing homework, and learning from their parents, students still have difficulty adjusting to college.  Parents who have raised their children up from a single cell organism are still baffled sometimes at how to respond to their argumentative teenager.  Instead of seeing the moment, analyzing the moment and judging the moment, taking a look at the process and see it as a change in tuning or chord structure.  Pay attention to those shifts so that you can give yourself grace when you return to novice status.  Become practiced and adept at the shifts instead of inflexibly expecting virtuoso sound the first time around.

-Logan K. Williamson, LPC


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Meet the Counseling Staff:

You may or may not have already taken the Strengths Quest module, but all of us at the UCC have and we’d like to share our thoughts on our “favorite” strengths.

Alicia Bourque, PhD – Director of University Counseling & Health Services: “My #1 strength is Relator!  I find nothing more gratifying, both personally and professionally, than forming and nurturing close bonds with family, friends, and co-workers.  It makes my day to share a meaningful moment with someone that I care about and cherish having in my life.”

Alison Cofrancesco, M.Ed., NCC – Staff Counselor: “Connectedness refers to the tendency to view the world from a larger, interrelated perspective.  I believe that personal growth is an endless process in which we learn about ourselves through interactions with others.  This strength points to a sense of universality in that our choices and actions are intertwined; affecting ourselves as well as others. “

Diana Novek – Office Manager UCC & Career Development: “Developer is my favored strength for sure! I am my best self when I am encouraging and supporting others to pursue their goals and aspirations. In the words of Phil Dunphy from Modern Family, “I’m a cheerleader! I’m the guy on top of the pyramid shouting ‘Go dreams, go!’”

Brooks Zitzmann, LCSW – Staff Counselor: “I love having the combination of Intellection and Achiever as my #1 and #3 strengths. For me, it resonates with the Jesuit notion of being a “contemplative in action.” While my mind is continuously moving and reflecting, I feel myself pulled to operationalize those thoughts into something beneficial for others. As a counselor, this combination allows me to understand my clients and the complexity of their lived experience while fostering movement and change to enhance their wellbeing.

Logan Williamson, LPC – Staff Counselor: “My favorite Strength is a tie.  Being positive is a strength that is recognized most often by my peers and is something that influences how I see the world so much.  On the other hand, there isn’t anything quite like when I connect several seemingly different ideas in my head (ideation) into one unique concept.  It feels like hitting a homerun.”

Visit our website and learn more about us and the services that we offer to the Loyola Wolf Pack!

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There are a lot of red and pink hearts lingering around the discount shelves of stores. The hype of Valentine’s has passed. For the single or broken hearted, perhaps there’s a sigh of relief. For the critics, perhaps the annual critique of the social construction of this national ritual has passed. I know I personally had found myself thinking about the consumerism aspects of Valentine’s Day and the economic benefit to various groups (e.g., restaurants, chocolatiers, etc) of convincing the country of the importance of this day. It’s easy enough write off or at least minimize.

Then, I thought to myself, “Self, why are you writing off or minimizing a day about love?”

I realized I was throwing the baby out with the bathwater. Is there a fair critique to be made of Valentine’s Day? Yes. But is there still something of value? Yes.

Despite the clear consumerism, and despite the hype that leaves mementos to love on a discount shelf, there is more to this day than chocolates and roses. There is a reminder that our lives are supposed to be about love, that love is important enough to celebrate, and that loving relationships are worth our investment. I now find myself enjoying those lingering remnants of the day: the string of heart shaped lights in my niece’s bedroom, the sweetheart poster on my neighbor’s door, the card on my table. They’re artifacts to remind me that love is all around. It is real. It lasts far longer than any of the ephemeral holiday décor. It is the thing to celebrate, to hold onto. And it is by returning to love, not just on one day but every day, that our lives become better. So here’s to the left over chocolates, the slightly wilting roses, and to anything that reminds us of the goodness to be found in love.

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ELI5: How do you leave Work at Work?

This is a question that, as a mental health professional, I often receive from my clients about their lives and about my life.  I’ll speak from my perspective and let you generalize from there.

Psychotherapy is, at the core, a study on how building relationships can change people’s lives for the better.  Of course it is a bit more complicated than that, but without empathy for someone’s experience clients won’t feel like their therapist cares and getting past the surface will become impossible.  So if my job is to hear genuinely sad stories about why the person came to see me and my job is to emotionally understand that story, then how do I not take that feeling home?  After all, if the person coming to see me could stop thinking about this problem, then they might not be in my office.

The answer lies in boxes.  The way that I envision each client is that they have their own space in my mind, but their space is contained in their own box that has its own space on the shelf.  I can hear about the best and worst of humanity and can genuinely empathize with that person’s experience.  Once I have spent enough time feeling, understanding, conceptualizing, and treatment planning for that client, I am able to place all of that energy into a box.  If needed, I can take that box off the shelf and come back to the problems that the client brought to session and even revisit my work in understanding my relationship with the client.

Viewing these relationships as boxes also allows me to pay attention to how many boxes are open at once.  I can then see if the information that I am relating between the boxes are purposeful empathetic connections or lazy overgeneralizations that can be malicious.  Anyone who has had more than one romantic relationship has had to do this in their dating life – when girlfriend #1 told you she was fine but meant she was ticked, girlfriend #2 may say she is fine because she chooses her battles;  valuing harmony over conflict.

The metaphor of the box is one that I live, but live through practice.  Compartmentalization isn’t perfect, but it provides a system that has been effective in my goal of being a present and engaged therapist, while not letting the pain my client shares dim my ability to help the next person.

Generalizing to your life, it is possible to have work box, a romantic relationship box, a difficult parent box, a financial box, and others as needed.  This way you are able to be present and effective in the places that demand your attention.  To wit, you can pay your bills and have pride in the work whilst struggling with your partner or being worried about finances.

A critique of compartmentalizing different aspects of life is that it could quickly slip into avoidance.  I believe that there is a great deal of merit to this argument, and I believe that organizing your boxes and taking time over the course of the week to open the important ones keeps lids from staying shut.  This is the difference between a labeled system where boxes can be easily reached and an episode of Hoarders about a guy who lives next door to the shipping department at Costco.  Boxes everywhere!

Take time this week to look at the boxes that are in your life and think about how you are addressing the difficult ones while keeping them from overflowing.

-Logan Williamson, LPC
University Counseling Center

*For the uninitiated, ELI5 stands for Explain Like I’m 5 and is a place online to ask questions about complicated concepts and usually receive an answer from experts.  By definition, the answers generally capture the answer in understandable, layman terms without condescending or patronizing the reader.*

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I sometimes think about the early Jesuits, missionaries scattered across the globe, encountering new cultures, learning and meeting people in their environments. What fascinating aspects of humanity they must have encountered! Though university life today is such that new faces come to our central location, students bring the richness of their worlds to Loyola. In the Counseling Center, we have the privilege of entering into these worlds by proxy – by hearing about the thoughts, beliefs, feelings, and human systems that animate our clients’ experiences.  And like those early Jesuits, we have the opportunity to meet people where they are, to understand the needs of the people with whom we work and collaboratively find ways to meet those needs. In this sense, our primary purpose is to be with and for others.

Squarely aligned with this counseling process is the Jesuit concept of “cura personalis,” care of the whole person. We look at the broader context of a person’s life: we ask about their physical ailments, their financial stressors, the impact of their academic life on their social connections (or vice versa!). We understand the connectedness of these various components of an individual’s life and recognize the importance of assessing and addressing a breadth of aspects of our clients’ lives.

Counseling encourages a balance of both contemplation and action. We use the tools of reflection and introspection to increase self-understanding, to illuminate support networks, and to identify personal strengths. But we recognize that these are not ends unto themselves. Counseling is meant to create a change that ultimately enhances a client’s wellbeing, self-efficacy, self-esteem, and relationships. It is action toward positive change that gives life to the fruits of contemplation.  The concept of the “magis” resonates throughout this process. Which actions are for the better? Which pathways will better produce meaningful relationships?

In sum, many Jesuit concepts and tools dovetail with the ideals and practice of counseling. While counseling does not use overtly spiritual language or practices, it is inherently open to developing all aspects of an individual. In this way, our work, like that of the Jesuits themselves, is meant to aid people in leading lives of greater authenticity and integrity so that they too may be better able to stand as women and men with and for others.

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Substance Abuse Screenings This Week! (And every week)

You all know the statistics.  If I would write them, you’d skip ‘em.  I know how it goes.  The bottom line is that we all know that college students’ relationship with substances is tricky at best.  More important than any statistic is the question: What is your relationship with substances like?  How does it affect your life?

This week, Loyola’s University Counseling Center is advertising a service that we provide to the students year round – Substance Abuse Screenings.  We want the campus to know that if you have questions, then we can help get answers.  And then we can even help with what to do with those answers.

One life lesson that is assumed that you learn on your own is how to manage putting things in your body that are potentially harmful but can give you immediate gratification (sometimes).  Substance abuse screenings are geared towards those with problems with alcohol and other drugs, but this point also applies to calories, sugar, sunshine, adrenaline, caffeine and this wonderful website.  Sometimes we aren’t so good at learning this lesson.  See: obesity rates, incarceration trends, extreme sports and again this wonderful website.

But just because we are surrounded by McDonald’s, Wifi signals and booze ads doesn’t mean that we are doomed to a life of voracious consumption.  Talking to someone can help and that’s why we are doing this.  Because life is more than the moment and moderation is more reasonable than.  Make an appointment with a counselor at the UCC so that you can take a look at your use with someone who can be a guide rather than a parent.


-University Counseling Staff

**All services are confidential**
Confidentiality at the UCC is defined here.

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Being on a college campus can increase your chances of getting sick during this cold and flu season. Flu and other viruses are thought to spread mainly from person to person through droplets made when infected people cough, sneeze, or talk. Viruses also may spread when people touch something with viral particles on it and then touch their mouth, eyes, or nose. There are some simple tips that can help you to stay healthy for the remaining little bit of winter in NOLA.

Get your flu shot…it’s not too late!

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water
  • Use alcohol-based hand sanitizer when soap and water are not available
  • Avoid close contact with sick people
  • Cover your mouth and nose with the inside of your elbow when you cough or sneeze.  This helps to contain your secretions without contaminating your hands.
  • Use a tissue over your mouth and nose when you sneeze or cough and dispose of dirty tissues immediately
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth since germs spread this way
  • Do not share drinks or eating utensils with anyone
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces that may be contaminated with germs like the flu, such as doorknobs, keyboards, and phones
  • Exercise daily
  • Get an adequate amount of sleep/rest
  • Eat a well-balanced diet and drink plenty of fluids

Please call or visit Student Health Services for more information on this topic or for any other health related concerns.  We are located in the basement of the Danna Center.  Our phone number is (504) 865-3326.  For more information on our services, please visit our website at

-Amie Cardinal, RN

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Welcome back to Loyola for spring 2014 semester!  We at the University Counseling Center (UCC) hope that you had a restful and rejuvenating break.  Now it’s time to get back in gear to start the spring semester on positive footing.

Time and time again students present to the UCC feeling stressed, anxious, and overwhelmed as a result of juggling a slew of responsibilities such as coursework, studying, co-curricular leadership positions, work, and/or social activities.  Sometimes, the easiest answer is avoidance; however, while this might be an effective short-term solution, its long term consequences can have far-reaching effects.  So, how do you know that you are procrastinating?  Here are a few clues:

  • Do you act as though if you ignore a task, it will go away?
  • Do you underestimate the work involved in the task, or overestimate your abilities and resources in relationship to the task?
  • Do you deceive yourself into believing that a mediocre performance or lesser standards are acceptable?
  • Do you believe that repeated and minor delays are harmless?

If you can see yourself in one or more of these situations, then, like most of us, you’ve engaged in procrastination.  Keep in mind that procrastination is the avoidance of anxiety and that the sooner you get to work, the better the outcome will be for you.  Here are a few ideas to ponder to assist you with making good on your procrastination resolution—

  • Make honest decisions about your work. If you wish to spend only a minimal amount of effort or time on a particular task, admit it–do not allow guilt feelings to interfere with your realization of this fact.
  • Study in small blocks instead of long time periods. For example, you will accomplish more if you study/work in 60 minute blocks and take frequent 10 minute breaks in between, than if you study/work for 2-3 hours straight, with no breaks. Reward yourself after you complete a task.
  • Modify your environment: Eliminate or minimize noise/distraction. Ensure adequate lighting. Have necessary equipment at hand. Don’t waste time going back and forth to get things. Don’t get too comfortable when studying. A desk and straight-backed chair are usually best.  Be neat! Take a few minutes to straighten your desk. This can help to reduce day-dreaming.
  • Grab an impulse to work on a project, and stay with it while it lasts.
  • Work alongside a non-procrastinator.
  • Use a wall calendar or monthly planner. Write in each deadline (exams, papers, projects, etc.) on the day it is due.
  • Break large tasks into small steps, scheduling each step into your planner. This makes those difficult tasks seem less overwhelming.

Best of success with your procrastination resolution and remember:  Challenges are what make life interesting; overcoming them is what makes life meaningful.

For more information on the UCC, please visit our website at


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Deep breath! You’re almost to the finish line!

In a few short days, you’ll be finished with all your finals. You’ll have an opportunity for some well-earned rest and rejuvenation. Perhaps you’ll be staying in the New Orleans area. Perhaps you’ll be traveling to visit family, friends, or for vacation. Whatever your plans, be aware of what going home for the holidays brings up for you and make sure to practice some self-care.

The holidays can bring up a wide range of emotions for many people. They can bring comfort, joy, peace, hopefulness, and renewal. However, holidays can also prompt anxiety or sadness. Family can be a source of great comfort but can also push your buttons or pull you toward resuming old patterns when you return home.

You may find that as you have grown and changed, your family or friends may have changed, too. After all, this is a time of transition for your families and friends as well and will require adjusting to changes in those relationships. You might realize that you feel more like yourself at Loyola! Though they can be difficult to navigate, changes in relationships are a normal part of moving toward independence and adulthood.

So, as you journey home, consider a few tips that might help along the way:

  • If you notice yourself feeling the “holiday blues,” remember the points noted above. Consider if there are conversations you need to have to mend relationships or if there are boundaries that you might need to set.
  • Think about your hopes for the holidays and ask if there’s room for you to challenge your own expectations of self, others and the holiday season in general.
  • Make time for rest and relaxation.  You are likely to feel exhausted after final exams but still want to visit with everyone back home.  Having a loosely structured plan for your break can help you have time for all your family and friends AND time for sleep, exercise, and relaxation.
  • Continue self-care. Remember what helps you feel well and balanced, and continue to engage in those activities. Perhaps that’s journaling, baking, biking, singing, or praying.
  • Keep in contact with your friends from Loyola.  Make a few phone calls, Skype, or send email/text messages. You’ll be happy to pick up where you left off when you return to campus in January.
  • Consider recording a “home for the holidays” playlist to assist with relaxation or boost your mood.
  • Volunteer.  Remembering the Jesuit ideals of compassion and dignity this holiday season and giving of your time and energy to assist in the lives of others will leave you feeling a sense of renewal and motivation for the spring semester.

However you spend your time, know that the UCC wishes you a holiday of rest and rejuvenation. Enjoy the well-earned time off, and we’ll see you next year!

Brooks Zitzmann, LCSW

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