By Sarah Hayes, A & E Editor
The University of Missouri–St. Louis’ Counseling Services office is continuing its Train Your Brain workshop series in the upcoming fall semester. Starting in late August, Counseling Services will be holding seminars and workshops for students in the conference room at their offices, located at 131 Millennium Student Center.
Laura L. Holt, PhD, works in the Counseling Services and is the main face of the Train Your Brain series. For Holt, the workshops are a way to teach students some of the skills a psychologist would teach them in therapy sessions; they will learn new techniques in a group setting and enjoy themselves in the process.
“Each presentation is designed to impart a few take-away points that attendees can implement into their lives right away, so everyone should leave with new ideas to get better at life,” Holt explained. “Plus, since different UMSL Counseling Services staff and interns are conducting the workshops, students will get a chance to meet us and learn how incredibly cool we are, which may make seeking individual therapy services less scary.”
The Train Your Brain series has been running since fall of 2015. There were four workshops to teach essential skills: interpersonal effectiveness, mindfulness, emotion management, and distress tolerance. Based on positive feedback from attendees, the workshop series was doubled.
Another change is the scheduling: Train Your Brain events will run every other Tuesday in the same office at noon, and will always be a ‘bring-your-own-lunch’ type of meeting. For Holt, the hope is that by making scheduling more consistent and reliable, it will “make it easier for students to put these presentations in their schedules and come bring their lunch and hang out with us every two weeks.”
The first workshop will be on August 23 at 12:30 p.m., which will be the standard time for all Train Your Brain workshops, and is titled “Not a Doormat, Not a Diva: How to Stand Up for Yourself.” This workshop will cover “how to get what you need out of your relationships by being direct,” and will include information about “factors reducing interpersonal effectiveness, obtaining change you want, getting and maintaining healthy relationships, and maintaining your self-respect.” Attendees will get practice at challenging their perceptions of their own effectiveness through exercises.
After that, on September 6, students will be invited to discuss their anxiety and how to recognize its symptoms in “Anxiety Got Me Like: Winning the Battle Against Fear.” According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, forty million adults in the United States experience anxiety as a mental health issue, and 75 percent of these adults have already experienced an anxiety episode by the age of 22.
Of the eight workshops coming up this fall, Holt says she is looking forward to two in particular: “Jedi Training IRL: Mindfulness Skills Workshop” on October 18 and “‘03 Bonnie & Clyde: How to Argue like Power Couples Do” on November 15. The other workshops this fall also have equally quirky titles: “Squad Goals: How to Stop Avoiding Conflict and Start Building Real Relationships”; “Netflix, You’re My Only Friend: Fighting Depression (and the Couch)”; “Inside Out: Put Those Feels to Work for You”; “Make Olivia Pope Proud: Handling Life like a Pro.” The October workshop will teach attendees how to combat stress and anxiety with a heightened sense of mindfulness of one’s self in a non-judgmental fashion, which will be achieved through various practices that will be demonstrated by counseling staff.
The November 15 workshop tackles the value of healthy, productive conflict in any relationship. Holt particularly enjoys running this specific workshop as she gets to “talk to many people who avoid conflict at all costs or have really painful, unproductive arguments in their relationships.” Students can either attend by themselves or bring their partner, but one thing is a guarantee, according to Holt: “We will be making lots of #LEMONADE jokes”—Tidal subscription optional.
A full schedule of Counseling Services’ Train Your Brain workshops can be found at the UMSL Campus Calendar online. All dates, times, and events are subject to rescheduling and cancellation, so interested students should check specific workshops on the schedule before going.
UMSL students interested in finding more information about Counseling Services can find the office on both Twitter and Facebook. They can also be found on the UMSL website, where visitors can access, among other things, a full schedule of upcoming events, crisis and emergency services, a virtual relaxation room, and self-help books and apps. There is also an upcoming social justice library that will be online in the near future.