Thanksgiving comes at a hectic time of year.  Most people have just packed away their Halloween costume when they’re suddenly startled by stores displaying Christmas lights and candy canes.  Many may ask themselves, “What happened to the holiday between Halloween and Christmas?”  You know, Thanksgiving.

Yes.  Thanksgiving can get lost in the hustle and bustle of other obligations, a mere precursor to the REAL holiday that gives us a longer break from our job and class responsibilities. Thanksgiving is also, however, the only holiday that encourages us to give gratitude for our journey and asks us to focus on universal, human commonalities.  Thanksgiving asks us to not only give thanks for people and events that have brought us happiness, but to also appreciate the challenges we’ve faced which make us stronger and more insightful.

Whether you’re in the residence hall studying for finals, in line for a store opening on Black Friday, or surrounded by loved ones this Thanksgiving, let me encourage you to take a moment and reflect on the many gifts in your life.  May we be grateful for everything in our lives and show appreciation on this day and on those to come.

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One of my top strengths on Strengths Quest is Ideation.  I love it.  I could tell you all of the reasons why, trust me.  After all, that is what ideators can do best!  The problem comes with the list afterwards.  What to do, what to do?

This is an interesting part of the year because there is enough time elapsed between the start of school and now to understand how the year is progressing.  You know what has been working and what has fallen on its face.  You probably even have a good idea of what is ahead. To be incredibly nerdy, statistically speaking, this may not be the median (mid-point) of the semester, but it is probably the mean (average).

Loyola students are great at coming up with this understanding.  They can come up with ideas about how to improve, enhance, streamline and balance their study habits, reading lists, upcoming assignments, social commitments, relationship maintenance, and on and on (please refer to previous ideator statement).  What I would challenge you to do this “mean” in the semester is to pick one thing to improve upon and change that one thing.  Do it today and not tomorrow.  Changes that are worth tomorrow are worth today just as much and you have to start somewhere.

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Today Loyola hosted the final First in The Pack seminar for the semester, for which I am a mentor and am involved in the program.  First in The Pack is a mentor program geared towards supporting first generation college students providing a space for dialogue on a variety of topics including handling the stress of college, talking to your family who has never been to college, managing registration and reflecting on what it means to be a Loyola student.  I value this program because it is a chance to recognize this silent minority – first generation college students.

I really appreciate the opportunity that Loyola has provided to students – giving ongoing organizational support to its students.  This is program is really indicative of the kind of programming that goes on here.  Passionately led and created by staff who were first generation college students, student supported, and active.

If you are interested in First in the Pack, check it out on Org Sync.  You can sign up to be a mentor or sign up to participate as a first generation student looking for support.

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New Orleans is an incredible place to experience Halloween.  Whether you’re running into Channing Tatum dressed as a lady bug on Frenchmen Street, or running out of House of Shock vowing to never again trust the friends who dragged you there (not that I’ve ever experienced either of those moments…), New Orleans brings its unique flare to this bewitching holiday.  Here at the UCC, we want to make sure you have the most fun you can while still being the responsible and capable students we know you are.

Having fun and being safe don’t have to be mutually exclusive.  They key to having a good time on Halloween is moderation, and, whether you’re talking about Kit Kats or Kamikazes, you want to limit your intake.  It’s easy to get caught up in the excitement of costumes and masks, but come Monday morning, the real world will still be here and that can be a rude awakening after a Halloweekend.  And while Loyola does not condone underage drinking, we are aware that some students will choose to drink before they are of legal age.   So here are some tips to keep it safe AND fun:

  1. Check yourself before you wreck yourself.  Hold your drinking at a slow pace – 1 drink or less per hour is a good way to keep on top of your consumption.
  2.  When in doubt, pour it out. Walk away from your beer for a few minutes? Don’t know what’s in that jungle juice?  Don’t feel like you have to drink it.
  3.  Sips are hip.  There’s no need to slam four beers as soon as you walk in the door.  Chugging drinks and playing drinking games make it difficult to keep track of your intake, and can lead to dangerous consequences.
  4. Buddy system.  Every Batman needs a Robin, and every Regina needs her Cady.  It’s all too easy to lose track of your group in the whirl of Black Swans and Marios on Frenchmen Street, so make sure you have one friend who you are accountable for and who is accountable for you.
  5. Hydrate.  It’s not just for the guys dressed as Fire Fighters.  Water is an important step in pacing yourself and keeping your body prepared for the long night of dancing ahead.
  6. Designate.  Drinking and driving is illegal, not to mention totally lame.  United Cab will be out in full force all weekend and can be reached at (504) 522 – 9771.  No one wants to be the cute witch carted off for a DUI.

So, make your Pack proud this weekend by making smart and informed decisions about how you choose to spend your costumed hours.  If you feel that you or someone around you may be in need of help, do not hesitate to call an RA, LUPD at (504) 865 – 3434, or 911.  It’s better to be safe than sorry out there, and the best way to stay safe is to avoid the emergency in the first place.  As always, we at the UCC are here for you.  Just call (504) 865 – 3835 for an appointment.

-Emma Cate Pegues
Graduate Social Work Intern
University Counseling Center

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Love is important, there is no question.  If we ask the Beatles, then it’s all we need.  If we ask the Bible, then it is patient, kind and never failing.  But sometimes that love does end.  The problem, occasionally, is that we invest so much into how we describe our love that it leaves us no outs when it ends.

Specifically, we box ourselves in when we speak in superlatives about feelings, relationships or problems and they quickly become things that they are not.  Love becomes perfect, problems become insurmountable, and feelings become terrible.  For better or for worse, this is not reality.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m not trying suck out the romance, but emphasize that how we frame love in our minds is important.

We get into trouble because our love, no matter our commitment to it cannot be perfect.  When we come into contact with this fact our relationships can crumble under its weight.  I say relationships crumble because that is what disintegrates – not the people in it.  This is important because oftentimes we put so much into the relationship that it feels like it is us.  I’m sure you’ve heard the familiar line, “I’ve got to find myself after breaking up with so and so.”

I encourage you to love someone in such a way that you have a grasp on who you are in and out of the relationship.  So if it ends, the relationship can die without it taking you down with it.  Broaden your perspective and hold both ideas to be true: Love is important and Love is mutable.  Coming from this angle, you can keep your love fresh for the person that you are with because you see it as something that can change and is thus worth improving upon.  If you have lost love, then it is not because you have died, but because the relationship has died and it is time to start anew.

-Logan Williamson, LPC

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“This year will be my fourth in attending Take Back the Night on Loyola’s and Tulane’s campus.  I will be honest and say that I did not have a thorough understanding of the event before participating in my first march.  Listening to the unfathomable statistics on victims of sexual violence and hearing testimonies from my own peers, I was introduced, for the first time, to the reality of a crime both heinous and shockingly frequent.  In response to this, I’ve noticed Loyola has established several programs and avenues to offer advocacy and/or counseling including their Sexual Assault Victim’s Advocacy Program, as well as crisis, group, and individual counseling. These programs are showcased at the march, letting any in attendance know of the services available to them.

As moving as the testimonials and speeches, the solidarity achieved amongst the three colleges–Loyola, Tulane, and Dillard–that come together for this event brings hope to the vision of collective awareness. Simply by attending the march, each participant is no longer a bystander to injustice but a voice for the otherwise muted. Marching, for me, is a visible sign to my peers that I am aware of their suffering, and suffer with them.  Marching down St. Charles Ave., we, peers from different colleges and backgrounds, take a stance against this injustice that speaks as loudly as the chants we shout. Take Back the Night!”

Charles Bourg is a senior, from New Orleans, majoring in Sociology. He has worked in the Counseling Center for two years as a student worker and received certification as a Sexual Assault Victim’s Advocate through the center. His email address is

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Take Back The Night – Augustin Crespo

“As a supporter of equal rights, I am always excited for Take Back the Night. For two years I have attended this great event, and learned much about the sexual violence that occurs in our society. With this march everyone involved is helping victims feel strong, powerful, and confident once again, and saying to non-victims that this involves everyone. In the end, I am honored, proud, honored, and excited for taking part in this long tradition at Loyola because no one should be a victim of sexual assault.”

Agustin Crespo is a junior majoring in criminal justice. He is the LUCAP Internal Affairs chair, a member of Alpha Kappa Psi, and has helped plan TBTN for two years.

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Morgan Whittler Reflects on TBTN

“As an involved member of Loyola’s gender equity organization the idea of Take Back the Night has always intrigued me. I can remember my reluctance in going my first year at Loyola. I was amazed that sexual assault survivors voluntarily came forward and told their stories. Most clearly I remember being horrified that some survivors hadn’t reported the wrongs done to then—even more so that some didn’t want to take action.

As some one who has not experienced sexual assault, I didn’t understand why someone wouldn’t come forward. Why wouldn’t they want their attacker to be held accountable? How is the system supposed to work and get better if the victims of these crimes don’t come forward?

I realized in my fervor for the system to work I’d forgotten about the survivors. I’d dehumanized the problem and in the process disrespected these brave survivors who were coming forward. Take Back the Night has taught me that survivors come first. Survivors can still make their own decisions and must be allowed to do so. As an advocate my role is to support them and their choices—not push a systematic agenda.

To me Take Back the Night is about respect. It’s an opportunity to learn what actually constitutes respect and support. For me Take Back the Night is a reminder about the boundaries of my advocacy and provides a lesson on the various ways someone can be a survivor.”

- Morgan is a senior, member of SAGE, and has actively participated in planning TBTN for two years.

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Take Back the Night… Annually attended by hundreds of students and New Orleanians alike, this event stands as a beacon of hope to those who have experienced sexual trauma. It reminds us that in this “land of the free,” many cannot walk the streets of our city in safety and that many have been traumatically or fatally injured due to their gender or sexuality. It reminds us that healing is possible, that there are people who care, and that no one need suffer alone.

Take Back the Night calls us to action. It asks us to bear witness to the aftermath of violence. It asks us to consider our own thoughts and actions, that we may be transformed by compassion. It calls us to talk, write, listen, volunteer, lobby and fundraise, in an effort to create an equitable community in which every woman, child and man can live in more freedom and less fear.

In the days leading up to TBTN, the University Counseling Center will post reflections by students on this blog that bear witness to the positive impact this event has in our community. I encourage you to read their thoughts, learn more about TBTN (click here) and join Loyola, Tulane, Dillard and New Orleans in Taking Backing the Night!

1. Spoken Word/ Poetry Slam event:                                                                             Tuesday, October 22, 2013 at 7p.m., Dillard’s Library 

2. Rally, March & Speak Out:                                                                         Wednesday, October 23, 2013 at 6p.m., Marquette Hall Horseshoe down St Charles and Broadway to Tulane’s LBC Qatar Ballroom

3. Charitable Raffle:  Starting 10/17/13, during lunchtime tabling in the DSC, raffle tickets will be on sale, $1/ticket for the chance to win one of 30+ baskets. Basket items include: Passes to the Audubon Institute, the House of Blues, VooDoo Arena Football, Pelican’s Basketball,  New Orleans Ballet performances, and a variety of items including Chanel perfume, Versace, La Mer lotions, Neiman Marcus bags, and more. All proceeds go to three local service providers: Sexual Assault Nurse Examiners program, the Metropolitan Center for Women and Children, and the New Orleans Family Justice Center.

Brooks Zitzmann, LCSW

Staff Counselor & Chair of Take Back the Night NOLA

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There’s An App for That Too!

I recently read an interesting article in the American Psychological Association’s Monitor magazine and was intrigued to learn that of the more than 13,600 iPhone health and fitness apps currently on the market, approximately 5% of those are mental health-related with the majority of them pertaining to stress, sleep, and smoking cessation.   These apps appear to be evolving to a point that they might enhance clinical practice to help bridge the time in between counseling sessions and to assist clients with taking increased action in improving their own mental health.

Most of these apps seem to work from a positive psychology perspective.  For example, the popular Live Happy app was inspired by Sonja Lyubormirsky’s research conducted in 2008.  Without endorsing any particular app, I find it a “cutting edge” phenomenon to have these apps available when engaging in therapy with students.  Although I have not yet utilized apps in my practice, I could see where a student might benefit from mood monitoring on his or her phone or tracking sleep hygiene practices or being guided through a breathing technique at a particularly stressful or anxious moment.  While these certainly will not take the place of a therapeutic relationship, I can appreciate how an app could augment the counseling experience.

If you find yourself with some down time this fall break and are interested in looking into a few counseling and psychology apps that are in the news, check these out—

  • The 3D Brain is a free iPhone and Droid app developed by Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory’s Dolan DNA Learning Center. The app is an offshoot of the center’s website, “Genes to Cognition Online,” which promotes education around the genetic aspects of psychological disorders. In one of 9,000 reviews on iTunes, one psychologist wrote that he had used the app to show his client with post-traumatic stress disorder where his stress symptoms are coming from, commenting that the patient now “can see it instead of just hear it.”
  • Encyclopedia of Psychology is an educational guide to the basics of psychology, including pictures of the brain. It includes topics ranging from Freud to modern psychology. Developed by MedicMake, a medical development company, it complements the company’s other apps, such as the Human Muscle Encyclopedia and 3D apps of the brain, heart, digestive system, skeletal system and lungs. Available for $0.99 download from  iTunes.
  • iCounselor Anxiety, developed by Dustin Swede and social worker Barbara Lester, promotes cognitive behavioral therapy, with users rating their level of anxiety. The user then follows instructions for a calming activity and finding a way to change his or her thoughts. Also available for anger, depression, obsessive compulsive disorder and eating disorders. Available through iTunes for $0.99.



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