UVM athletics unveils counseling program


UVM Athletics

Director of athletics Jeff Schulman (pictured) unveiled a new counseling and psychology program Sept. 12. The program is a joint effort between the athletics department and UVM’s Center for Health and Wellbeing.

Madelaine Allen, Staff Writer

UVM athletics has unveiled a new counseling and psychology program.

The Catamount Sports Psychology and Counseling program will combine efforts from the Center for Health and Wellbeing and UVM athletics.

UVM is the first school in the America East conference to implement a program of this kind,” Athletics Director Jeffrey Schulman said.  

The program will offer one-on-one counseling services but will also incorporate programming, including mindfulness, yoga sessions and workshops on how to de-stress, senior swimmer Kelly Lennon said.

“For many years, we have been providing our student-athletes with first rate care for their physical well being,” Schulman said. “It has become increasingly clear that in order to fully care for our student athletes, we need to pay equal attention to their mental health and wellbeing.”

The program consists of a staff of three people: Kelly Thorne, PsyD, Ari Shapiro-Miller, M.A., and Sheila Stawinski.

Stawinski will continue in her previous role as a Sports Psychology Consultant, while Shapiro-Miller and Thorne were added to the staff as a part of the program.

“[I am] very appreciative of our two student leaders, Trae Bell-Haynes and Kelly Lennon, who sparked this idea with last year’s Rally Around Mental Health,” Schulman said.

Lennon is a part of the America East Student-Athlete Advisory Council;  according to Lennon she and Bell-Haynes have been in discussions with the conference following the success of Rally Around Mental Health.

Student athletes have trouble finding time to go to Counseling and Psychiatry Services or they believe there is a stigma associated with it, Lennon said.

“It’s especially hard for student athletes to get past the stigma of going to seek counseling,” she said. “If it’s in a place where it is more comfortable and accessible they will be more likely to use it.”

“You’re taking anywhere between 12 to 18 credit hours and you have 20 hours of athletics on top of that,” Lennon said. “These services will really help people to find a way to de-stress.”

The ultimate goal of the program is to raise awareness about mental health within the student athlete population at UVM by making help more readily available, Schulman said.

“I’m confident that more will reach out for help and that ultimately we will have a healthier student athlete population.” Schulman said.