Historical Background of Counseling in FST
The Faculty of Science and Technology, otherwise referred to as Chiromo Campus is located along Riverside Drive.
Counseling services were initially being offered from the office of the Dean of Students, the main campus up to to 1988 when assistant deans /counselors were employed and Ms. Beatrice Kinyua deployed to the Faculty as the assistant dean cum counselor. Her departure saw the late Margaret Nganga take over and then Dr. Nyawira Kuria. During all this time the assistant deans offered counseling services besides carrying out other activities in relation to students' affairs.
By 2012, there was a heightened need for mental wellness in the institutions of Higher learning which culminated in the creation of the office of the students' counselors in these institutions and hence in the University of Nairobi.
This led to the recruitment of students’ counselors by the university in 2015 who got deployed to all the campuses.
Lucy Muthoni Kamau was recruited then as a students’ Counselor and deployed to FST where she is carrying on the services of Guidance and Counseling amongst other duties to mainly the students but occasionally to staff members.
Current Activities of the Office of the Students’ Counselor
The office of the Students counselor aims to create and maintain a safe, collaborative learning environment in order to help the students individually and corporately to maximize their potential ranging from personal, social, academic, career- guidance and extra-curricula activities. Counseling and related services help the students identify barriers, improve coping, and achieve personal goals.
The following are the activities carried out by the Students’ Counselor’s office.
a) Counseling activities
i) Individualized Counseling typically lasts about 45-60 minutes. The Counselor provides therapy to students who present with a wide range of issues such as depression, alcohol, and drug use and abuse, anxiety, loss and grief, relationship challenges, trauma, identity, and self-esteem issues, academic-related issues as well as personality. The counselor explores the concerns expressed by the counselee (students) and establishes goals to help navigate through and help overcome these concerns. Most of the concerns that the students bring to counseling are addressed in 3 to 5 sessions.
ii) Group Therapy addresses a wide range of issues and can be highly effective as it enables the affected student to get input from peers to who they can relate. Group therapy also helps in the establishment of social support systems amongst the students. Feedback and ideas in group therapy make the student feel connected and find hope that things can be better. The groups ran through the semester; meet according to plan, with the numbers being dictated by the needs being addressed.
iii) Organizing sensitization and campaigns on Alcohol and Drug Abuse Prevention
These help the student learn how to use practical strategies that reduce the risk associated with alcohol and drug use and abuse and addiction. They learn the consequences of overdose and persistent use encouraging them to seek help without fear or intimidation. This is done in liaison with the office of the assistant dean of students.
iv) Addiction Recovery programs
The counselor provides short-term counseling and assessment for substance use and other addictive behaviors like betting, internet gaming, gambling, and pornography. If the assessment indicates that the student requires long-term or specialized care, referrals are made to the relevant intervention departments such as the University Health Services, Chaplaincy, SWA, and Academic Faculties for further help.
v) Organizing sensitization campaigns on HIV/AIDS prevention and Reproductive Health. This is done in collaboration with the University Health Services as well as in partnership with other supportive bodies like National Aids Control Council (NACC) and I Choose Life (ICL).
vi) Recruitment, Training and supervising the work of Peer Counselors
vii) Psychological Testing and Assessment to arrive at a diagnosis and treatment plan
ix) Orientation of new students -on general wellbeing, integration, and adaptation
b) Mentorship activities:
The office of the students’ counselor and that of the assistant dean of students work in liaison with the Principal’s office in order to carry out mentorship services which include but not limited to the following.
The counselor also offers guidance services addressing the needs of students in relation to their psychological, social, academic, career growth and development. This is aimed at creating a positive and safe learning environment within the university in order to produce holistic graduates.
ii) Life Skills Training
The office of the Counselor in collaboration with the Executive Dean’s office organizes trainings on various life skills among them, leadership, self-awareness, personality development, self-esteem, stress management, time management, conflict resolutions, relationships among others.
Counseling and guidance services are carried out in collaboration with other stakeholders who include:
They help in providing financial support, more information and in reinforcing the skills and concepts introduced to their children through counseling and mentorship programs
They network with the counselor in identifying and referring students who require counseling and mentorship.
Have close interaction with the students and help pick out issues that cannot be handled in the lecture rooms and refer such to the counselor.
Students Welfare Authority (SWA)
Provide information and make referrals to the counselor for students in the hostels requiring psychological help.
University Health Services-
Students who need psychiatric assessment or any other medical support are referred for further management.
They help in meeting the physical, spiritual, social, and intellectual needs of the students.
NACADA and NACC offer substance abuse programs sexual and reproductive health services
I Choose Life (ICL) and Kenya Red Cross offer life skills training for empowerment and behaviour change
Religious organizations like spiritual retreat centers and churches- provide spiritual support and networking
Kenya Counselors and Psychologists Association (KCPA) certification body for Counselors.
Kenya University Professional Counselors Association (KUPCA) empowering and networking forum for university counselors and assistant dean of students.
Due to the emergence of COVID-19 and the uncertainties involved, the lockdowns have prompted the engagement of e-counseling via the use of social media platforms such as WhatsUp, Facebook, emails, Google meet, zoom and telephone calls in order to help in the emerging issues associated with the pandemic.
For more information contact:
Lucy M Kamau
Students’ Counselor, FST