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Counseling student tops essay contest

July 21, 2006

Photo of Shana AverbachGraduate counseling student Shana Averbach took the top prize in Counseling Today's annual national essay contest. Her thoughts on the topic, "How could the counseling profession do more to reach those in need of services?" earned a $500 prize and publication in the July issue of the magazine, which is published by the American Counseling Association.

The award came as no surprise to Andres Consoli, associate professor of counseling. "Shana is an extremely reflective and insightful student," he said. "She has demonstrated exceptional observation and empathy for the young students she counsels."

Averbach, a San Francisco native, is fulfilling a counseling internship at the Balboa Teen Health Center in San Francisco. She referenced both personal experience and a client's struggle with depressive episodes in her essay titled "Spreading Mental Awareness." Averbach reasoned that if people were to impart the realities and warning signals of mental illness to young children the way they are taught to identify physical afflictions, society would be healthier.

"Sometimes feeling overwhelmed and sad is normal but sometimes these feelings are bigger than us and we owe it to ourselves to reach out for help," Averbach wrote. "What I see a call for is a dissemination of mental health information into our daily lives, the goal being that after two weeks of discomfort, one would be as likely to seek help for feelings of despair and anxiety as they would for a throbbing toothache or a wound that does not heal."

Averbach proposed that general information about the brain, common mental disorders and their accompanying treatments could be presented in middle and high schools, much as other as alcohol and drug abuse awareness are commonly taught.

Averbach, who has a bachelor's degree in psychology from University of California, Los Angeles, is majoring in marriage and family therapy and expects to receive her master's in 2007. She said that the $500 prize will be applied to her tuition.

The SF State master's of science in counseling prepares counselors in a number of professional areas including career, college, gerontology, marriage, family and child counseling and rehabilitation.

-- Denize Springer


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Last modified Juy 21, 2006 by University Communications