Student Resources

June 6, 2013 Previous day Next day

With finals looming on the horizon, many students may find themselves becoming anxious. This is not always a bad thing. Moderate anxiety causes our minds and bodies to become alert to their surroundings, preparing them to deal with whatever task is required (such as taking a final exam). Unfortunately, when it comes to test-taking, many students have so much anxiety that it becomes difficult to focus on anything but the anxiety.

What Test Anxiety Looks Like:

  • Having a mental block or freezing up
  • Finding words or problems meaningless when reading
  • Feelings of impending panic before or during an exam
  • Worry about performance compared to other test takers
  • Forgetting information that you previously learned
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Physical discomfort (nausea, rapid pulse, excessive perspiration, muscle tension)

One important note: Test anxiety generally refers to students who would do better on an exam if they were able to remain calm. If a student has not studied at all for an exam, the above symptoms may be legitimate, not excessive, anxiety!

How to Counteract Text Anxiety:
Prepare Regularly
Start studying for exams early, preferably with a plan. Short review sessions at scheduled times are better for knowledge retention than marathon cramming. Similarly, dividing material to be covered into small tasks makes it easier to prioritize and is less overwhelming. If you have access to them, use study aids.

Students should also prepare their bodies before an exam. Often a good night’s sleep, a proper diet, and light to moderate exercise (to reduce tension in the body) will make a great differencein how students feel the day of a test. Avoid all drugs before an exam, especially stimulants. This includes caffeine! Stimulants mimic anxiety symptoms and will make anxiety more intense.

Use a Positive Attitude
Understand that how a person thinks about an exam is a choice. We all can choose to think negatively (“I’m not smart enough.”) or we can choose to think positively (“I’ll focus on one thing at a time.”) Remember to put the exam in perspective. The test and the grade are a measure of understanding the class material, not a measure of self-worth. All students who have been accepted to a competitive school like MSOE must have had some academic success in the past and students should remind themselves of those past successes.

Practive Relaxation
There are numerous relaxation techniques, but nearly all feature some abdominal breathing. Abdominal breathing means breathing deeply and slowly from the abdomen, using your diaphragm control breath. It increases the amount of oxygen your body receives while simultaneously slowing your heart rate. This induces a calm emotional state. This can be done in as short as thirty seconds. Spending a minute or so to relax during a test is better than wasting time nervously re-reading questions or trying to remember answers when panicked. The more a person practices relaxation the more effective it will be in a test-taking situation.

Focus on the Present
Students should try to keep their focus on the present moment. Worries about the consequences of doing poorly will only make anxiety worse and will further impede performance. For this reason it is a good idea to do something other than studying for the hour or so before the exam-anxious students are unlikely to retain much from cramming. Also, avoid discussion about material right before the exam, especially if the people talking are also anxious. Stay focused on what can be done in the present rather than worrying about the future.

How Professors Can Help:
Students may wish that their professors would write easier exams to decrease test anxiety, but professors do need to measure the students’ ability to demonstrate comprehension. However, professors also have some control over another, less obvious variable: the testing environment. Although it may seem obvious, professors can do their part to decrease test anxiety with a warm smile and a simple “Good Luck,” before the exam. Similarly, calmly going over the test instructions, including highlighting any points that may give students trouble, can foster a less anxious environment. Even if a test may seem difficult students will be less anxious if they know their professors would genuinely like them to succeed.

Here are sites from other universities that have suggestions on how to beat test anxiety:

In 1994 the Violence Against Women Act became the first major law to help government agencies and advocates work together to fight against domestic violence, sexual assault, and other violence against women.  Despite the gains made with this legislation violence against women remains a problem for women of all ages.  22% of college women have been the victims of physical abuse, sexual abuse, or threats of physical violence, and 1 in 5 women have been sexually assaulted while in college. Women of all backgrounds can become the victims of violence and abuse, which can be perpetrated by strangers but is often done by someone they are close to.  Violence does not just hurt the person being abused, but also friends, family, and the whole community.

Warning signs of an abuser:

  • Controlling behavior
  • Excessive or threatening contact (texts, calls, internet, other forms of communication)
  • Obsessive jealousy
  • Physical violence (hitting, slapping, punching, kicking, etc.)
  • Put downs and name calling
  • Sexual pressure

Warning signs someone is being abused:

  • Making excuses for partners bad behavior
  • Fear of partner
  • Isolation from family and friends
  • Loss of interest in activities that were once enjoyable
  • Noticeable changes in eating patterns, or in alcohol or drug use
  • Loss of self-confidence
  • Depression

How can you help stop violence against women?

  • Call the police if you see or hear evidence of domestic violence/violence against women
  • Support a friend or family member who may be in an abusive relationship
  • Encourage the victim to seek medical and psychological assistance
  • Volunteer at a local domestic violence shelter
  • Become an activist

Join the 1 Billion Rising on Feb 14th

  • Stand up with 1 Billion women and those who love them as they rise up in an effort to end violence against women.
  • This rising is not just for women but men are essential in ending the violence as well.  All men and women are invited to participate.
  • Rising locations in Milwaukee: UW Milwaukee, Aurora Sinai Medical Center, MATC, Riverside University High School, or start one of your own.
  • If you are unable to attend a rising event you can also participate by changing your profile picture to the One Billion Rising logo on February 14th, organize an online social gathering, or tell everyone you know about One Billion Rising.
    • See their website for more details or to sign up for a Rising event.

Violence Hotline Numbers:

  • National Sexual Assault Hotline: 1-800-656-HOPE (1-800-656-4673)
  • National Domestic Violence Hotline: 1-800-799-SAFE (1-800-799-7233)
  • ChildHelp USA National Child Abuse Hotline: 1-800-4-A-CHILD (1-800-422-4663)
  • National Suicide Prevention Hotline: 1-800-273-TALK (8255)
  • National Teen Dating Abuse Helpline: 1-866-331-9474

Milwaukee Contact Numbers:
Sexual Assault Treatment Center (SATC)
Aurora Sinai Medical Center, 945 N. 12th St.
(414) 219-5555

Sojourner Family Peace Center Hotline
(414) 933-2722

Helpful Websites:

Elizabeth Para, Intern Counselor, MSOE Counseling Services

A UWM student recently accidentally overdosed on alcohol and drugs. How you can make sure it does not happen to you or anyone else you know!

Symptoms of Alcohol Poisoning

  • Person is unconscious or semiconscious and cannot be awakened
  • Cold, clammy, pale, or bluish skin
  • Check to see if breathing is slow, less than eight times per minute, or irregular, with ten seconds or more between breaths
  • Vomiting while sleeping or passed out or not waking up after vomiting

If a person has any of these symptoms, he or she is suffering from acute alcohol intoxication.

  1. Get help. Call 911, a staff member or public safety.
  2. Do not leave the person alone. Turn the victim on his/her side to prevent choking in case of vomiting.
  3. Always be “better safe than sorry” if you are not sure what to do. Take action to save a life.
  4. Once help arrives, tell them everything you know about what the person drank, when they had their last drink, whether other drugs were ingested, etc.

Additional Resources

MSOE Counseling Services creates monthly newsletters on mental health
concerns and psychological issues. You can view the complete list of downloadable Counseling Services Newsletters.

MSOE Counseling Services is located on the second floor of the Kern
(K-230). To schedule an appointment with a counselor, call (414) 277-7590 or visit the Counseling Services homepage.

The college years are times of significant transition and challenge for an individual. Transition simply means change. Higher levels of anxiety are always experienced by people who are in a state of transition regardless of whether the change is perceived as good or bad. There are many issues college students face when starting college. The topics in this newsletter include:

  1. Myths and Facts about the College Experience
  2. Overcoming Homesickness
  3. Academic Problems
  4. Major and Career Choices
  5. 10 Things We Wish You Didn’t Have to Know

1. Myths and Facts About the College Experience
Myth: A good student does not need assistance during his/her college or university experience.
Fact: Many students come to college with the belief that to ask for help is a sure sign of inadequacy. Nothing could be further from the truth. MSOE has an abundance of resources available to you. You are paying for these resources through tuition or fees. Become familiar with and make use of your campus resources, such as:

2. Overcoming Homesickness
Few people are immune to homesickness. Here are a few tips to help you through it now or in the future.

  • Admit that you have it. Much of what you know and can rely on is back home. Homesickness is a natural response to this sense of loss.
  • Talk about it with an older sibling or friend who has gone away from home. It takes strength to accept the fact that something is bothering you and to confront it.
  • Bring familiar items from home to your new location. Photos, plants, even stuffed animals help to give one a sense of continuity and ease the shock of a new environment.
  • Familiarize yourself with your new surroundings. Walk around. You will feel more in control if you know where buildings, classes, and services are.
  • Invite people along to explore. Making friends is a big step to alleviating homesickness.
  • Keep in touch with the people back home, but put a limit on telephoning. Write them reports of your activities and new experiences. Let them know you’d like to hear from them, too.
  • Do something. Don’t wait for it to go away by itself. Buried problems often emerge later disguised as headaches, fatigue, illness, or lack of motivation.

3. Academic Problems
Do something. Don’t wait for it to go away by itself. Buried problems often emerge later disguised as headaches, fatigue, illness, or lack of motivation.

You are not alone. These are common problems for college students, including really smart and capable people. Common reasons for academic problems include issues regarding motivation, time management, study skills, social distractions, substance abuse, learning disabilities, and psychological issues.

If you are troubled by academic problems for these or any other reasons, take advantage of the resources at MSOE. Don’t wait until it’s too late to ask for assistance. Speak with your professors. Contact Counseling Services or The Learning Resource Center to discuss these issues.

4. Am I in the right major? What are my career goals?
Wondering if your major is right for you? Are you unsure of what someone with a degree in your field is expected to be good at? What kinds of jobs are available for someone with your major? It is not uncommon for many college students to ask themselves these questions. There are many ways in which you can find answers:

  • Explore the MSOE website and look under each academic program’s website ( There, you’ll find program goals, educational objectives, and course and track information for each major.
  • Explore the Prentice Hall website ( which has extensive information about various majors, what they are about, and what kind of jobs you can expect to find after graduation.
  • Talk with program directors or professors about your major. Discuss your professional goals and what types of careers you are considering.
  • Meet with upper-class students who are in your major to learn about what coursework and internship opportunities lay ahead.
  • Find a mentor to answer your questions and serve as a resource while attending MSOE. Learn more at
  • Schedule an informational interview with a professional in the field. Informational interviews are an excellent way to gain first-hand knowledge about a specific occupation, including the work environment, the tasks associated with the occupation, and its rewards and limitations.
  • Make an appointment with a counselor at MSOE Counseling Services for a career assessment. Career Assessments may assist you in identifying your interests, personality characteristics and values and how they relate to different career possibilities.
  • Call or visit the Career Services Office which has an abundance of services, including job listings, career and job search videos, and graduate school information. They can also assist in providing salary information, resume and cover letter assistance, developing a job search strategy, and improving interview skills (

5. Things We Wish You Didn’t Have to Know

  • As much as campus officials try, no environment is completely safe. Know what the risks are and how to minimize them.
  • MSOE provides an escort services for students after dark. Or, use a buddy system and don’t wander around dark, deserted parts of campus alone or with a relative stranger.
  • Invest in a good basic self defense course, and then be sure to practice the skills you’ve learned.
  • Remember that most women are in more danger from people they know than from strangers — so take the precautions you already know about to avoid date rape and similar kinds of assaults.
  • If something happens, know how to report it and to whom. Remember that victims are never to blame, and that no matter the outcome, you always did your very best. Take advantage of all available resources to assist in the recovery process and try to give yourself the gift of patience with the process.
  • Sexual harassment is less of a problem than it once was, but certainly hasn’t been eliminated. The good news is that MSOE has published policies on what constitutes sexual harassment and how to deal with it. The bad news is that for a student to confront a faculty member or other campus official can be difficult at best. If you feel you’ve been harassed by anyone on campus, you may want to start by talking it over with a trusted friend or family member. Or, contact MSOE Counseling Services.
  • You’ve heard more than you want to about the problems of binge drinking, drug abuse, and eating disorders. Unfortunately, what you’ve heard is probably true, so try to pay at least a little attention and exercise more caution than you think necessary (it’ll still be less than your parents would like).
  • If you or someone you know is in trouble, get help. Believe it or not, there is a whole community of folks out there who want nothing more than to give it to you. Start with the folks in Student Life; they should be able to direct you to the right person in the right place to take care of you.

Links for more information:
Dr Mom’s Guide to College:

Counseling Services

Alcohol Use

Posted by Counseling Services Jun 6, 2013

“Alcoholism is the only disease you can get yelled at for having.”
–Comedian Mitch Hedberg

Alcohol use (or misuse) is a perennial problem on college campuses across the US. Despite wide acceptance of a medical model of alcoholism (i.e. treating alcoholism as a disease) as noted above by Mr. Hedberg, alcohol misuse is also still surrounded by shame, guilt, and social stigma. As a result it is easy to read literature on alcohol misuse with a defensive, guarded, attitude. So, before reading on – Relax.

This newsletter will not label you an alcoholic, or judge you for being a bad person.

This newsletter does contain a few ways to help determine what levels of drinking can be problematic, but(stay relaxed!); they’re at the end of the article. First, here’s some basic information on alcohol use. The following statistics are cited from Screening for Mental Health

Who Drinks at College?

  • In 2002, 36% of full-time college students (aged 18-22) reported consuming less than one alcoholic drink in the past 30 days.
  • Meanwhile 56% of full-time college students reported consuming less than five or more drinks on the same occasion at least once in the past 30 days.

So over a third of college students drink less than one drink a month or dont drink at all. But of those students who do choose to drink, about two thirds reported binge-drinking (defined as having four (for women) or five (for men) drinks on one occasion). Just for reference, a standard drink contains about .6 fluid ounces of pure alcohole. This would include:

  • A 12 oz. can of beer, or
  • 1.5 oz. (1 shot or jigger) of spirits (i.e. gin, vodka, brandy, etc.), or
  • A 5 oz. glass of table wine

How Does College Drinking Affect Students?
Sometimes students end up hurting themselves or others.

  • More than 600,000 students between the ages of 18 and 24 are assaulted each year by another student who has been drinking
  • 1,400 college students between the ages of 18 and 24 die each year from alcohol-related unintentional injuries, including motor vehicle crashes
  • 500,000 students between the ages of 18 and 24 are unintentionally injured under the influence of alcohol

Alcohol use can also lead to risky or criminal sexual behavior.

  • More than 70,000 students between the ages of 18 and 24 are victims of alcohol-related sexual assault or date rape
  • 400,000 students between the ages of 18 and 24 had unprotected sex and more than 100,000 students between the ages of 18 and 24 report having been too intoxicated to know if they consented to having sex

But How Can Drinking Affect Me Personally?
College Drinking Prevention lists some risks of drinking. They include: academic problems, increased risk of suicide attempts, health problems due to drinking, increased risk of property damage, and (perhaps obviously) drunk driving (see more below). Read the rest of the list here

According to, in Wisconsin a first offense OWI (Operating While Intoxicated) conviction will result in a fine of $150 to $300 and license revocation for at least six months. The offender also pays for mandatory assessment and counseling, legal costs, and what will likely be a significant insurance rate increase. Keep in mind that the legal blood alcohol limit in Wisconsin is now .08, or anything above .00 if you’re under 21.

How Do I Know If I or Someone I Know Should Be Concerned About Alchohol Use?
There are lots of ways to assess alcohol use. One easy way is to follow the links to the confidential alcohol screen on MSOE’s Counseling Center website. Go to then click on the “Screening for Mental Health – Online Screening Program” link. Click the “Begin the Screening” link and then choose the Alcohol Screen.

One quick way to assess problematic drinking is to simply ask these three questions:

  1. Am I drinking more than I used to?
  2. Once I start drinking, am I sometimes unable to stop?
  3. Do I get irritated when I’m in a place where I can’t drink?

*Even one yes is a sign for concern.

A more in-depth look at drinking habits comes from Project IMPACT. 20 Questions About Alcohol and Drug Use

  1. Do you lose time from school or work due to alcohol or drug use?
  2. Do you use alcohol and drugs to feel more comfortable?
  3. Do you use alcohol or drugs to build confidence?
  4. Do you use alcohol and drugs when you’re alone?
  5. Is your alcohol or drug use affecting your reputation?
  6. Do you use alcohol and drugs to escape from school, work or home worries?
  7. Do you feel guilty or depressed after te use of alcohol or other drugs?
  8. Does it bother you if someone comments on how much you drink alcohol or use drugs?
  9. Do you feel more at ease in social situations when you are drinking or using drugs?
  10. Have you ever gotten into trouble at home, school, or work because of your alcohol use?
  11. Do you borrow money or “do without” other things to purchase alcohol or other drugs?
  12. Do you feel a sense of power when you use alcohol or drugs?
  13. Do your friends use less alcohol or other drugs than you do?
  14. Have you started to hang out with a heavy drinking/drug using crowd?
  15. Do you drink or use drugs until everything is gone?
  16. Do you wake up and wonder what happened the night before?
  17. Do you wake up and wonder what happened the night before?
  18. Have you ever been arrested or hospitalized due to your drinking or drug use?
  19. Do you “tune out” information about alcohol or other drug abuse?
  20. Do you think you have a problem with alcohol and other drugs?

*Answering yes to three or more of these questions is a sign for concern.

More Substance Use Resources
On the Web:

Via Telephone:

  • Alcoholics Anonymous World Services: (212) 870-3400
  • Al-Anon Family Group United States Headquarters: (800) 344-2666
  • Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration: (800) 662-HELP
  • National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (301) 443-3860

MSOE Counseling Services is located on the Second Floor of the Kern Center (K-230). To Schedule an appointment with a Counselor, call (414) 277-7590. For more information, visit Counseling Services.

Newsletters for Mental Health
Dawn O’Shea-Farley
May 2012

On April 18th, Career Services and Counseling Services hosted a passionate presentation of recent graduates:

Leo Barber, ’11 – BUS
Phil Case, ’10 – MIS
Jolisa Gold, ’11 – CM
Christopher Keller – BUS
Chaning Ogden, ’09 – CE
Russell Richard, ’10 MS-AE/Structural

The unexpected, unscripted, unanimous theme of the night was the importance of PERSONAL BRANDING.  Network, network, network.  Begin practicing these skills while still in school, prepare yourself to engage in the social world of work, NOW!

Get Connected
Start now to get connected to the young professional scene.  The grad panel mentioned four terrific places to begin:

These social/ professional groups exist beyond cyberspace.  For example, FUEL boasts on their website that “FUEL Milwaukee will help you connect to your professional peers, plug in to the community, and ensure that your voice is heard as the Milwaukee Region shapes its culture and brand.”

Chaning Ogden (’09 CE) encourages everyone to get connected.  He suggests committing to at the very least, one, brief visit.  Make a decision and do it!  He feels so strongly that these groups are essential to your future career, he offered to meet you there!  The moral of the story is to consider attending with someone else, but be open to meeting and greeting.  Don’t close yourselves off from the possibilities.

The advice of your graduates suggest that great opportunities will flood your way with a willingness to “open your mouth,” (Chaning Ogden, CE ’09).    Don’t let INTROVERSION or SHYNESS stop you from seeking out the best job, best environment, best opportunity for growth.

Take it from a Fellow Engineer
Russell Richard, MS AE ’10, has done a fair amount of research on the subject, trying to get a handle on his own patterns.  As he correctly ascertained, “Introversion is a personality type … in which a person feels most comfortable with fewer, but closer friends.”  He suggests that, “a person has an option to talk… , but chooses not to.” Richard further explained that “shyness” is quite different.  Richard describes his own experience as a shy person, “it was difficult to know that the shyness I felt was fear because for so long it had been labeled as “shyness,”  which I assumed was separate from other emotions. However after I read that it was FEAR, my entire social experience made so much more sense.  I began to really pay attention to myself and the way I felt about talking to other people and going to social activities.  I wasn’t disinterested in talking to people or going to social events, I was afraid, and I felt that I was missing out on something very important.” (Richard).  Richard characterization is ‘spot on’ and perfectly relevant to the challenges many students might have with the mere thought of “personal branding or networking.”

Best Practices to get beyond the fear
Richard had a couple of suggestions that have worked for him:

  1. Do your own research on shyness.  Read a book or two, examine some online resources open yourself up to a new perspective.
  2. Practice good eye contact.  Start with the least threatening people on earth… babies.  Once you grow a comfort in connecting with little ones, increase the challenge based upon your comfort level.  The next step Russell suggests is to connect with cashiers and baristas.
  3. Small talk and longer conversations can be a big challenge.  Lean on your passions in life, engage like-minded people and practice your new skills.  Build on your skills in a fail-safe environment.  Develop comfort and move toward greater challenges within a reasonable amount of time.

Richard cited a TED talk you might be interested in viewing:

Communication Skills Are Essential
The alumni panel concurred on another important point:  the essentials of written and verbal communication!
Christopher Keller (’09 BUS) spoke of the importance  of effectively conveying a message.  All the grads recognize that half of their day is spent talking with other people – customers, vendors, co-workers, and the boss!  Without adequate practice in presenting your work or your ideas, your incredible skills get lost and the job is likely to suffer.

Jolisa Gold, (’11, CM) has found herself in an unexpected place of rising the ladder very quickly.  She explained that all she does all day is “talk to people,” making decisions on the spot and leading people who are in her words, “a lot older than I am.”  She has skills that her employer believes in, but struggles internally with the challenges of being confident in her communication of those skills.  Further, she acknowledges the discomfort of knowing that her decisions have a large monetary impact on her employer.  Gold believes that MSOE should provide even more opportunity to practice the process of good, stress-inducing, model-based, “decision making.” Gold’s comments were affirmed by the rest of the panel.  You may find yourself leading employees in a way you never before anticipated.

Leo Barber (’11 BUS) challenges today’s student to ask yourself everyday, “what can I do to make my business better?”  He suggests that YOU are your business, seek out opportunity.  Barber acknowledges that one of your greatest  bridges to the outside world is your professors, “talk to them,” get on track, be creative and determine who you want to work for.  Getting to know the landscape is an important step.  Barber reminds students that they can consider the benefit of organizations such as Servant Leadership, Community Advocacy and Community Pick Up…knowing your community can only strengthen your comfort zone and broaden your skill base.  “Everything you do adds to your credibility from the time you first sit down with a potential employer.”  (Barber).

Barber provides the best possible summary to this article.  TAKE ADVANTAGE OF YOUR ENTIRE EXPERIENCE AT MSOE.    Phil Case (’10,MIS), wants you to know that the classes you don’t think are relevant…  ARE!  Create opportunities to grow your communication skills because it is those skills which will not only help you get the job, but also help you survive life after college.  When given an opportunity, request class discussion opportunities from the faculty.  Now is the time to develop greater comfort as a growing professional.

For those of you who are graduating, take some time to get yourselves connected with Milwaukee’s best social/professional organizations.  It may make the difference in how much you will enjoy the career you have worked so hard to obtain.

Congratulations!  You’ve got a lifetime to look forward to!  It has been a pleasure.

Newsletters for Mental Health
Audrey Cowling, Intern Counselor, MSOE Counseling Services
  Sept. 2012

Have you ever felt so unhappy or distressed that you thought about hurting yourself? Maybe you have been worried about a friend who just hasn’t been acting like him- or herself. If so, you are not alone. Here are the facts: Suicide is the second leading cause of death in college students. And 1 in 10 college students has considered suicide. However, most people who are suicidal don’t actually want to die; they just don’t see any other solution. If you or someone you know is struggling, it is important to remember that there are many resources that can help. You don’t have to go through it alone.

The best way to prevent suicide is to know the warning signs and how to respond if you notice them in yourself or someone you know.

  Warning Signs


  • Talking about feeling hopeless or having no reason to live
  • Acting reckless, engaging in risky activities
  • Feeling trapped,  like there’s no way out
  • Increased use of alcohol or drugs
  • Withdrawing from family, friends, normal activities
  • Anxiety and agitation
  • Sleeping more or less than usual
  • Extreme mood swings/changes
  • Talking about seeking revenge or wanting to die
  • Looking for a way to kill oneself
  What to do if you need help:


  • If you are having thoughts of suicide, don’t keep them to yourself. Get help immediately. You can call the Suicide Prevention Crisis Line of Milwaukee 24 hours a day at (414) 257-7222. You can also contact MSOE Counseling Services at (414) 277-7590 or call Public Safety at (414) 277-7159.
  • Reach out to someone you trust – it could be a parent, sibling, friend, professor, RA – and let them know how you are feeling.
  • Avoid risky situations. For example, you might think that alcohol will make you forget your troubles, but it is actually a depressant, and it can affect your judgment and self control, making the situation even worse.
  • Think about a time when you felt good about yourself, when things were going well. Ask yourself what small steps you can take to get back to feeling positive and hopeful about life.
  • Make of list of five things you will do if you start feeling desperate (ex. call a friend, take a walk, listen to music) and keep it somewhere nearby.
  What to do if someone you know needs help:


  • Take them seriously when they talk about their feelings and be willing to listen.
  • Encourage the person to seek help immediately. Let them know that there are resources available. Offer to go with them to MSOE Counseling Services, or together call the Suicide Prevention Crisis Line of Milwaukee, or check out the other resources listed below.
  • Don’t worry about saying the wrong thing. What’s important is that you are there to support and help him or her.  By listening you let the person hear themselves and are offering hope.
  • Don’t leave the person alone if he or she is talking about committing suicide. Stay with him or her and call for help.
  • Understand that you do not have to deal with this alone and that it is important to take care of yourself. Talk to a family member, friend, RA, counselor, or anyone else you trust.


  • MSOE Counseling Services
    • Offers confidential, individual appointments to MSOE students.
    • (414) 277-7590
  • Suicide Prevention Crisis Line of Milwaukee
    • Crisis counselors available to talk 24 hours a day.
    • (414) 257-7222
  • National Suicide Prevention Hotline
    • Helps individuals in crisis to contact the nearest available suicide prevention and mental health service providers; available 24 hours a day.
    • 1-800-273-8255 (TALK)
  • Half of Us Campaign
    • Raises awareness about the prevalence of mental health issues and connects students to appropriate resources to get help.
    • Half of Us Online
  • Transition Year
    • Online resource center to help parents and students focus on emotional health before, during, and after the college transition.
    • Transition Year Online
  • Jed Foundation
    • Nation’s leading organization working to reduce emotional distress and prevent suicide among college students.
    • Jed Foundation
  • To Write Love on Her Arms
    • Non-profit movement dedicated to presenting hope and finding help for people struggling with depression, addiction, self-injury, and suicide.
    • To Write Love on Her Arms Online

Counseling Services Newsletter
Dawn O’Shea-Farley
April 18, 2012

“People who participate in disordered eating combined with binge drinking are also more at risk for violence, risky sexual behavior, alcohol poisoning, substance abuse and chronic diseases later in life” (Osborne 2011).

College students are always trying to determine the best way to enjoy all parts of life.  Low on money, high on expectations, college is perhaps the greatest period of experimentation. It is, however, important to be smart in your choices to preserve your health as you move through what should be a long life.

A recent study published by the University of Missouri – Columbia led by Victoria Osborne, assistant professor of Social Work  and Public Health has concluded that a new trend which combines both disordered eating and heavy drinking has become common on college campuses with both men and women, however women express the behavior at a rate three times their counterpart.  A survey completed as part of the U of Missouri study suggests that one in six students opted to restrict food calories for the purpose of allowing for alcohol and binge drinking.

Students who choose this path to either save calories, reserve cash for drinking or get a quicker “buzz” are likely to find that their brains can be severely handicapped in both the short and long term.  Every college student has to make a decision about whether they would like to risk their success in school and life for the purpose of saving their waistline or their pocketbook.

What happens physically and mentally?
Keep in mind, according to the National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, “alcoholism and eating disorders frequently co–occur and often co–occur in the presence of other psychiatric and personality disorders.”  Its often about addiction.  Engaging in this behavior can be your entry into a world of struggle that you never anticipated.  A recent study published in Biological Psychiatry found that one third of bulimics also struggle with alcohol or drug abuse.

Depriving the brain of adequate nutrition and flushing your system with alcohol can cause physical and mental damage.  The increased effect of alcohol can also put participants of this practice at risk for alcoholism.

Women metabolize alcohol differently than men, in part due to weight differential but further, there is a difference in alcohol metabolizing enzymes.  A recent article in the Journal of Alcohol and Drug Education cites a study performed by Freeze that found that nonalcoholic men had 70-80% higher gastric alcohol dehydrogenase activities than nonalcoholic women. This puts women at higher risk for negative alcohol abuse effects such as brain damage and cirrhosis.  (Burke, Cremeens, Vail-Smith and Woolsey.)

Use the resource available on the MSOE Counseling Services website linking you to sites such as and take a look a the interactive body to see how alcohol affects every organ in your body.

Consider also that “intoxicating amounts of alcohol” can reduce the amount of nutrients absorbed by the body.  Alcohol increases digestive juices causing an irritation of your stomach.  In the case of restricted food intake and increased alcohol consumption, chances are high that stomach troubles are in your future.

According to the National Eating Disorder Association (2006), approximately 20% of college students, both male and female, reported that they have had an eating disorder at some point in their lives. Studies have also discovered other subclinical disordered eating behaviors among college students that include binge eating, chronic dieting, fasting or purging to control weight, self-induced vomiting, and the use of diet pills or diuretics (Forman-Hoffman, 2004; Mints & Betz, 1988; Tylka & Subich, 2002).  In general some of the physical effects of anorexia include things like severe mood swings, depression, reduced energy, poor memory and slowed cognitive process, headaches, dizziness, and tooth decay and gum disease.

Consider choosing a healthier path while still indulging in your social activities.
A new plan of action could include:

  1. Alternate between an alcoholic beverage and another healthier option such as water throughout the night.
  2. Plan alcohol consumption into your daily caloric intake by eating HEALTHIER meals instead of total food avoidance.
  3. Be nice to your stomach – coat the lining of your stomach with foods high in protein and fat before consuming alcohol.  You will also slow down the absorption of alcohol into your bloodstream by following this simple rule.
  4. Think long term: your body is recording your activities, treat it well.
  5. Consider the consequences:  giving up control of your physical self and risking long term emotional consequences, may not be worth the short term high received from a quick buzz.

April is Alcohol Awareness Month.
Counseling Services recently sent out a list of great resources to help you learn more:


Local Resources

Get more information on



Burke, Sloane C., Cremeens, Jennifer, Vail-Smith, Karen and Woolsey, Conrad. (2010).  Drunkorexia: calorie restriction prior to alcohol consumption among college freshman by Sloane C. Burke, Jennifer Cremeens, Karen Vail-Smith, Conrad Woolsey in Journal of Alcohol & Drug Education retrieved from

University of Missouri-Columbia (2011, October 17).  ‘Drunkorexia: A recipe for disaster.’  ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 3, 2012, from

Newsletters for Mental Health
Dawn O’Shea-Farley, Intern Counselor
March 2012

Music may be the closest neural language we have to a direct expression of what is inside us. The neural symphony in our skulls and the mentalese in our subjective life find outer expression in the ebbs and flows of energy within the experience of music. (Siegel 2010).

It may sound like common sense, certain kinds of music can change your mood, thought pattern, or outlook. At times we can be very intentional about our music choices. Seeking a specific artist or style of music might be a familiar quest when we need to change our stream of thought or emotion. There is often an intuitive process involved in your choice of music to either move you more deeply into a mood or perhaps counter-act a free fall into high anxiety. What if you could use this music – brain connection to build a playlist for the purpose of training your brain?

The authors of “Your Playlist Can Change Your Life,” have determined that it is possible to not only alter your emotional state, but also train your brain to improve sleep, increase concentration, improve your memory or even reduce pain. Now we know, through the lens of neuropsychiatrist and director of the Brain Music Treatment Center, Galina Mindlin and co-authors, Don DuRousseau and Joseph Cardillo that you can accomplish much more than just a temporary escape through a carefully selected playlist.

Mindlin suggests that the benefits of selecting specific kinds of music, chosen based upon what we intuitively enjoy is based initially upon the simple process of operant conditioning. This would involve, in this case, rewarding targeted brain activity. Further, it is suggested that the music is accompanied by a cognitive element such as imagery, which will help to activate more areas of the brain.

An example of this pairing when feeling down or depressed could involve accessing a positive memory that led to a feeling of excitement and connect that re-imagined experience with a few songs that uplift your mood, specifically songs that you have found energize your brain.

The concept is fairly simple, but it may take time to create pairings. Mindlin suggests that you should enjoy the process of developing your playlist because your brain responds more readily to things that are “fun.”

There are seven basic steps to choosing your playlist:

  • First, pick songs you know and like. Start your search by choosing songs that calm your anxiety. At times, your mind and body will instantly recognize music that is best to soothe you.
  • Pay close attention to the times that a song works and when it doesn’t. (Keep notes of feelings and events associated with these experiments).
  • Ingrain (firmly fix or establish) the songs into your memory.
  • Make a playlist that is task oriented (modulating brain activity – to activate or relax/ energize or calm). Train your brain with the assembled playlist.
  • Continue your search for new or different songs as it may be necessary to change your playlist over time.
  • Listen closely and anticipate.
  • List a set of memories or experiences that can be used in conjunction with the music to encourage brain entrainment. (Mindlin 2012).

Mind and Body
This suggestion comes as we learn more about how we change our brains through greater knowledge of psychophysiology. The mind-body connection is inextricable, particularly as it relates to stress response and our growing understanding of the limbic system. Our perception of events and physiologic response are somewhat hard-wired into our brains through the limbic system. You can, however, retrain your response so that issues that may have caused great anxiety earlier in life can be changed. You can train your mind and body to respond in a way that allows your higher brain systems to operate more efficiently without being short-circuited by the lower brain (fight or flight response).

Brain Music Therapy (BMT) connected with some form of imagery exercises can train your brain to shift to a place of greater focus, better mood, reduced anxiety and improved sleep for two main reasons. The first involves a brief examination of brain activity and the second involves an understanding of how we store memory. In terms of your brain’s electrical activity, your EEG (electroencephalographic) present a good illustration of activation of certain parts of your brain. If you reward centers of your brain that activate at times of greatest concentration as expressed by 12Hz Beta waves, you will notice that your brain follows suit and provides you with greater mental sharpness. On the other hand, if you feel you need to slow things down, remain relaxed, yet focused, playing to your Alpha waves at 8-12 Hz is your best bet. Further to move to even slower waves such as Theta and Delta, you would choose music that calms your brain such as slower, quieter music with fewer beats per minute.

If you struggle with ADD (Attention Deficit Disorder), your brainwave pattern may be stuck in the lower frequency waves which may necessitate using higher tempo music with more beats per minute to aid in concentration. At times of low mood or depression, brain imaging research has found that there is frequently higher activity in the right hemisphere of the brain. Using brain music training can help to balance activity between the left and right brain over time and to elevate your mood in the moment with well-chosen music.

You my never know what brain wave pattern is being activated, whether it be delta, theta, alpha or beta unless you have an EEG conducted while you are listening to music. However you can make a fairly good assessment of how your brain is being activated by keeping track of what various pieces of music do to you. How does your mood or mental acuity change with close concentration to music that appeals to you?

Beyond the emotional resonance of a piece of music, BMT also involves gaining access to memory by activating positive or calming imagery. It may be helpful to know that there are two kinds of memory; in using these techniques you are activating both as they are interwoven in our everyday life. Explicit memory is the kind of recall that involves details of an experience such as the day something occurred. Implicit memory is the kind of recollection that can occur outside of our awareness – the details are not accessible, rather it just “is.” Implicit memory can influence our present based upon something that occurred without our awareness. An example of this might be the influence we experienced while still in the womb to sounds or sensations. Memories associated with music can be highly implicit. Pairing of implicit memory associated with music that we “like” with the recall of a memory or experience for the purpose of developing an associated imagery exercise which employs both the implicit and explicit memory can be a very powerful influence involving conscious, unconscious, and physiologic response.

Do An Experiment
Mindlin suggests experimenting with the possibilities. Prior to a high stress situation, such as an exam or presentation, listen to a set of (tested) relaxing songs for approximately twenty minutes prior to the event. Follow this up with one song that is guaranteed to really “pump you up.” At that point, you should be in a well regulated state but ready to take on a challenge (balanced and flowing).

The key elements to this concept involves having a willingness to accept the powerful influence of music on the brain and therefore emotion. Secondly, become intentional about determining how various pieces of music affect you and determine how to categorize those experiences. Build playlists that are task driven and focused on specific kinds of emotional or behavioral movement (energize, calm, uplift, sleep, focus, etc.). Train using these various playlists to work toward entrainment.

There are also a variety of BMT offerings available on YouTube which may provide both music and a visual that you find helpful in entering a targeted state. Have some fun and start building your targeted playlist!

Sample Playlist provided in Mindlin’s book:
Theme: “General Calm”

“The Splendour,” Pantha du Prince
Pachelbel’s Canon in D Major
“Diamond in the Rough,” Shawn Colvin
“Every Breath You Take,” Police
“Here Comes the Sun,” Beatles

Mindlin, Galina and DuRousseau, Don and Cardillo, Joseph (2012). Your Playlist Can Change Your Life: 10 Proven Ways Your Favorite Music Can Revolutionize Your Health, Memory, Organization, Alertness and More. Naperville, IL: Sourcebooks.

Siegel, Daniel. (2010). The Mindful Therapist. New York: W.W. Norton & Company.

Interview with Neuropsychiatrist Galina Mindlin:

Additional Information:
Interview (2006) with the Today Show’s Matt Lauer
Dr. Peter DeShane offers 7 PowerPoint Presentations on BMT – One example includes:
Part 3

Newsletters for Mental Health
Dawn O’Shea-Farley
February 2012

Do you find that you are always putting off work until the last minute? Have you been calling yourself “lazy” for the last several years, but can’t seem to get out of a slump? Your procrastination could be more complicated than a simple issue of avoidance or laziness. Dr. Linda Sapadin, author of “Its About Time”, has observed client behavior over the course of thirty years to determine that patterns of procrastination seem to fit in six distinct categories. So, without delay, let’s start looking at what’s keeping you behind.

Six common procrastination styles identified by Sapadin:

  • Defier – Tends to challenge authority through procrastination. The defier avoids direct confrontation by appearing cooperative, but has an expectation that others will pick up the work they avoid.
  • Crisis Maker – The crisis-maker can be a little dramatic in using crisis as a main source of motivation. In terms of time management, they will often go from total avoidance to total immersion in completing a task.
  • Over-doer – Feels a sense of guilt during downtime. The over-doer has great difficulty in saying, “no” to new responsibilities.
  • Perfectionist – Success is often intrinsic to their sense of self-esteem. This individual will often complicate a task with the intention of improving quality, but become so deeply entrenched in the work that a sense of accomplishment is overshadowed by the burden of unattainable standards.
  • Dreamer – This person is often a very likeable individual, initially. The dreamer can be comfort driven, passive and feel above the mundane details of life.
  • Worrier – The worrier is paralyzed by anxiety and struggles with indecision. They might rely on a parent-type figure to make major decisions.

You may recognize some of these characteristics in yourself. You may also realize that your patterns fit into multiple categories. The most important step from here is to do a little self-examination.

Changing Behavior

Consider the following formula as you approach changing any annoying habits or behaviors.

  • Develop a keen awareness of when you experience a problem behavior. Take note of patterns surrounding the behavior (how often, what are the triggers that induce the behavior?).
    Determine the probable root of the behavior (e.g. anxiety, fear, depression, unrealistic expectations)
  • Actively choose new behavioral, thought or speech patterns to begin experiencing the benefits of changing the problem behavior, even in small ways.
  • Remember that all change takes time, patience and commitment. Take small steps and reward success. Backsliding can be normal, but resolve to get back on track and plan ahead to trouble-shoot through potential barriers. Once that behavior change has been successfully implemented, observe the benefits of the change. Step by step you will find it possible to change the way you live your life.

How to change the procrastinator inside of you

  • Defier – Accept responsibility and seek the benefit of a sense of accomplishment rather than waiting for others to pick up the slack.
  • Perfectionism – Consider your history. Is this a learned behavior? What are the negative consequences of having impossible standards? Find small, less threatening ways to allow for mistakes and determine whether the results of those mistakes are as devastating as you may have imagined. Can you begin to tolerate an ideal of “excellent” or “good” rather than “perfect?”
  • Worrier – You might experience life as threatening and anxiety laden. Begin with some simple breathing exercises and get adjusted to a new “normal.” Take notice of the times that you are mentally exaggerating the importance of a task and stop! Break the task down into smaller, attainable steps. Most importantly, accept what you produce without seeking approval of others.

Additional strategies for overcoming procrastination

  • Commit to 30-minute segments of work.
  • Find a work space that is free of distraction.
  • Map out what is required in a project based upon how long it will take to complete each aspect of the job.
  • Give yourself a break, recognize that your work or academic performance is not the best way to gauge your self-esteem, there is much more to you as an individual that validates your worth!
  • Change your internal language to active, confident language. (“I can get this done,” “I have done this before, I can do it now,” or “Just get it done”).

Seek advice
You may discover that you need some help in determining your style of procrastination. The counseling services at the Kern can provide you with a survey to test your tendencies. Any of the counselors would be happy to then help you construct a plan to reduce or eliminate those time wasting behaviors.

Try something new
Commit to one week of thinking and doing things a little differently and take note of the positive results: Have others noticed that you seem to be more engaged? Are you receiving compliments on your work that you haven’t received in a long time? Do you feel more accomplished than usual? Believe that you can get things done without feeling like every task is a burden.

Sapadin, Linda and Maguire, Jack. (1996). It’s About Time: The 6 Styles of Procrastination and How to Overcome Them. New York: Penguin Books.

Newsletters for Mental Health
Alicia Pamperin

Finally! It’s break time! You are going back to your hometown and see your friends from high school. While breaks are a lot of fun, the first long break of college can end up causing problems with students and parents alike as they both try to deal with the new set of expectations that comes with having a college student back in their parent’s house.

For those students who have been living in the dorms or apartments and have become use to their own set of rules (or lack thereof), going back to your parents place can feel more like going back in time.

Often parents still expect their children to follow the same rules and guidelines as they did in high school. This can cause clashes between you and your parents when you expect to be treated as an independent adult and they expect you to follow the rules they set in place before you could drive. How can we avoid some of these problems?

The easiest solution is actually to just talk to your parents. Find out what appointments they might have scheduled for you, what times the family gatherings are going to be, etc. And let them know about the plans you have with your friends. If everyone knows what is expected for the week, it will be easier to plan, and less likely to cause problems. Also, it is important to discuss this before you leave for break. It will be less stressful for everyone if this is taken care of ahead of time.

Did you get a tattoo or dye your hair since your family saw you last?  Did you become a vegetarian or change political views? If you’ve done or changed something significant since your parents saw you last, give them a heads up before they pick you up or you arrive back home. It will give them time to adjust and will be less shocking than if you had waited. And it helps avoid problems at Thanksgiving dinner if you suddenly don’t eat meat any more.

This holds true for parents as well. Ask them if anything has changed since you’ve been gone. Maybe your room is the same as it was when you left in August or maybe your younger sibling has claimed your room. Or maybe your mother has taken over your closet. Maybe your parents changed how the living room was set up. It may not seem like it now, but speaking for experience, it’s much better to know ahead of time that something is different, than to walk in and find nothing is how you remember it.

Do you have siblings still at home? When you went off to college life changed for them as well. Like with your parents, they expect things to be a certain way and when you come back it may throw things out line with them. Try not to monopolize shared items such as computers, televisions and gaming systems. Hang out with them over the break as well. They may not always admit it, but they probably missed having you around and will enjoy time together.

Most of you will probably be heading home as soon as you’re done with finals. If you’ve been pulling some all nighters, warn your parents in advance of how tired you are. They’ll be less worried when you sleep in until 1 P.M if they know you’ve been working hard.

In the end, what everything comes down to is communication. Make sure to talk to everyone and ask questions now to avoid headaches and arguments later. Keep in mind that everyone has a different idea of how this break is going to run. Follow the above guidelines and your break will go much smoother. And before you know, you’ll be back here for another quarter.

Enjoy your break and happy holidays!


Counseling Services


Posted by Counseling Services Jun 6, 2013

Teresa DePratt, Intern Counselor, MSOE Counseling Services
May, 2011

Hello everyone, and cheers to you for making it to the last weeks of the 2010-2011 spring quarter! Congratulations to our graduates, for reaching your hard-earned goal.  Whether you’re headed across the stage or have just finished freshman year, you’re sure to gain some confidence and pride- all adding to your quota of self-esteem.  Self-esteem is important for all of us, allowing us to face adversity and challenges from a secure place.  It also contributes to our self-efficacy, which are the ideas we have about what we can accomplish on a day-to-day basis and over our lifetimes.

If your self-esteem is running low however, chances are you often feel bad about your physical characteristics, social skills, or even who you are as a person.  Low self-esteem can greatly contribute to feeling some of the less desirable emotions, such as depression, anxiety, and diminished confidence and motivation.  Having low self-esteem for and extended time can affect relationships, manifesting as neediness, negativity, and/or lack of control.

Having a good self-esteem on the other hand, is about feeling good about who we are- liking ourselves regardless of successes or failures.  It’s being secure in the fact that you do your best and the glitches that show up in all of our lives are only that- temporary setbacks that we know we can overcome.  Positive self-esteem means that we don’t judge ourselves based on what others think or say, or how much we can accomplish.  High self-esteem is being comfortable with yourself, believing that you are a good person and feeling generally positive about who you are.

One thing that contributes to low self-esteem is believing negative things that have been said about you- either years ago or today.  If you look at those accusations rationally they probably aren’t true. If they do have a grain of truth and there is something you can do about it and you would benefit, then get to it.  If you disagree, then let it go, because your honest view of yourself is the most important truth.

If its physical looks that have you putting yourself down, get a pen and paper and put down what you’re dissatisfied with.  If there is a flaw you can and wish to do something about, say losing weight or getting a new look- then get to it.  Be honest with yourself about what you have control over, and come up with a reasonable plan to get fit, eat healthier, or get a new haircut.  Anything you don’t control- let it go.  We’re all different and that’s what makes us unique.

Building your self-esteem isn’t going to happen while you sit on the couch or play video games. Effort on behalf of your own Self is the only way to get more, and so another way you can increase your self-esteem is by getting out into the world.  Engaging in something outside of your everyday environment, especially when it’s beneficial to yourself or others, will help you remember how fortunate you really are.  Take a walk, volunteer your time, join a team, take a fun class, or start a new hobby.  It’s important to acknowledge those tasks and goals you’ve accomplished thus far in life as well.  Really take a minute to remember all that you have done: this quarter, this year, and the past 5 years- personally, emotionally, and of course academically.  You are amazing!  Have a safe and happy summer everyone.

Self-Esteem Tips on the Web

Newsletters for Mental Health
Alicia Pamperin, MSOE Counseling Services
September 2011

As the quarter progresses, students may find themselves with more work than they could possibly handle. They know they need to get it all done and something needs to go. More often than not that something is sleep and it is replaced with an energy drink or caffeine pill. While this may seem like a good idea at the time, in the long run it can be dangerous and there is a lot to consider. Although, it is true that caffeine pills and energy drinks do give burst of energy that many find helpful to get through those crunch times, the side effects are not worth the price.

Some of the side effects of over use of caffeine include: insomnia, headaches, hypertension, chest pains, anxiety, seizures, hallucinations, irritability, difficulty concentrating and in some rare cases, even death.

These side effects are caused by the high amounts of sugar and caffeine. It is also important to note that energy drinks are on the market as dietary supplements. This  means they are not bound by the FDA regulations that other products with caffeine. The FDA considers caffeine to be a potentially harmful ingredient. For sodas, the caffeine content is limited to 71mg per 12 fluid oz. The average energy drink (250 ml) has between 50-160 mg of caffeine in it. Compare this to a 12 oz can of Coca Cola, which only has 34.5 mg of caffeine in.

It is also important to consider the effects of mixing energy drinks with alcohol. This carries the dangerous problem of making people fool their bodies into thinking they aren’t as drunk as they actually are. This is a problem because it leads to people believing they are capable of driving when they aren’t. On average people who mix alcohol with energy drinks are three times more likely to leave a bar or a party drunk as those who only drink alcohol. You know those nasty hangovers in the morning? Those are caused by dehydration, which is made worse by an energy drink’s high caffeine content. This is because caffeine is a diuretic, which causes water loss.

An occasional energy drink here and there is not necessarily going to cause a problem, but it is still better for someone to get their energy from a good night’s sleep, a good diet and exercise.  You’ll feel better in the long run and you won’t have to worry about relying on energy drinks and caffeine pills to get you through those tight spots.      


Teresa DePratt, Intern Counselor, MSOE Counseling Services
April, 2011

Hello everyone, and welcome to the month of April! While the weather teases us with 60 degrees one day and 30 the next, we don’t care too much knowing the warm temperatures can’t hold out on us for much longer. The impending nice weather has some of us starting to get a little nervous, as its time to ditch the winter jacket- and soon we’ll be just in shorts and t-shirts! It’s enough to inspire thinking about getting back into shape: perhaps losing a little winter weight or getting back on a diet and exercise program to feel your best for summer and its many activities.

While most go about getting healthier in a reasonable way, some take the desire to be fit to the extreme- thinking the thinner the better. Sometimes this idea can lead to eating disorders in both women and men. Three types of eating disorders are prevalent, and they include anorexia (eating very little), bulimia (eating and then vomiting), and binge eating (avoiding food at some times and then eating a much larger amount of food than would normally be consumed in one meal). All of these behaviors are actually quite unhealthy, and can lead to detrimental physical consequences (including death) and emotional struggles (depression and anxiety just to name two). While it is now common knowledge that the media’s portrayal of what is a normal body shape is actually quite different the real average in the general population, many still struggle for an unattainable figure.

It is a common misperception that eating disorders only plague women- more and more men are finding themselves suffering as well. In fact a recent study done at Harvard University discovered that at least 40 % of those with binge-eating habits are men, and more than a quarter of people who suffer from the most prevalent eating disorders, anorexia and bulimia are men (1). While it’s great that guys are getting diagnosed and feeling more comfortable talking about their relationship with food, it’s an indication that men are also falling prey to the social stereotypes of perfection. Obsessing about food, weight or exercise are some of the first sign(s) that you may want to address your nutritional intake, poor body image, or psychological issues. So if you think you may have an eating disorder, or would just like to talk how to plan for a healthier you in the coming months, remember we are here at MSOE’s Counseling Services to support you in your goals.

Links to Eating Disorder Quizzes and more informational articles:
Easy 5-question evaluation quiz
26-question Eating Attitudes Quiz

Informational Videos about Eating Disorders:
Eating Disorder Indicators (College Health Guru)
Eating Disorder Awareness Week Video

Counseling Services

Cults on Campus?

Posted by Counseling Services Jun 6, 2013

Teresa DePratt, Intern Counselor, MSOE Counseling Service
March, 2011

Happy March everybody, and welcome back from break week!  This is a great month for two reasons: the clocks are turned ahead an hour on the 13th, giving us an extra hour of light- and Spring starts a week later on the 20th!  Hopefully we will see the temperatures rise as the month goes on as well.  With the new quarter and nicer weather come opportunities for joining new groups and meeting new people. While we have a wide variety of activities happening right here that are recognized by the administration, sometimes organizations that are not campus-based do try to solicit members on the public streets around MSOE and beyond.

Many times they are legitimate and well-meaning. Other times, although relatively infrequently, a representative that may seem to have good intentions could play on your vulnerabilities in order to solicit members for a more cultic group. A cult? What is a cult anyway?  The word may bring up images of hazy-eyed devotees, a hooded master, or moonlit rituals.  Actually most of the cult-like activities on college campuses are not that showy.  A recent study of 400+ residential housing administrators showed that of groups identified to be cult-like in nature, 74% were religion-based, 12% were Satanists, and 7% were Pagan (1). Most definitions of what a cult is include that they are leader-driven, exploitative, separatist, and harmful to individuals, families, or society as a whole.  So how would you know whether or not you can trust an organization?                                                                                                                  

A report written just this year gives us some of the red flags- what to look out for before signing up for any group.  There could be trouble if:

  • There is a leader that claims special divinity or is a sole judge of members actions/beliefs
  • You are becoming isolated to the group and its activities, spend less time with family/friends
  • The group attempts to play on your emotions of loneliness, fear, sadness or guilt
  • There are absolutist views that are stated and or reinforced often
  • Viewing the rest of society as a whole as evil or wrong
  • Demands to pledge, believe, or be involved
  • Gives you gifts or asks for “money for God”
  • Promises of spiritual uniqueness or enlightenment

While the chances may be low that you will be approached, it’s important to be aware of the possibility of cults or other manipulative groups on campus.  For more detailed information about cults and what to be wary of, take a look at the links below.  You can also check out page 30 of your MSOE handbook.  Of course it is always a personal decision whether or not to join any organization.  Just make sure to do some fact-checking before becoming too involved, and be wary of the signs that something is not quite right.  Be sure to follow your intuition, check with Rick Gagliano, Director of Student Activities if you have questions about a group, and have a great start to the Spring Quarter!

More articles about Cults on Campus:

Teresa DePratt, Intern Counselor, MSOE Counseling Services
February, 2011

With February bringing us the super-commercialized Valentine’s Day, it seems like a good time to give some perspective to those people who are unattached at the moment. This love-laden holiday can have even the most secure single person the feeling a little left out. Being alone however, doesn’t have to mean experiencing loneliness! And alternately, there are even some people currently in a “relationship” that would still report feeling lonely some- if not most- of the time. Being alone and feel lonely are not synonymous, in definition or in experience. But what’s the difference?

The difference starts in the interpretation. That’s because the way we look at our life situations- or what we tell ourselves- plays a big part of what emotions we experience. If you are feeling lonely, you may be thinking “Everyone else has someone to love except me. I’m such a *****.” or “Being single sucks.” On the other hand, if you truly appreciate yourself, you’ll have no trouble finding ways to have fun, be caring, learn, accomplish a task or relax, all in the company of no one but yourself.

One way you can prove to yourself that you are better company than you think, is a technique called the “Pleasure predicting” exercise. It goes like this: Decide on an activity, day, and time that you are going to go somewhere just with yourself. It may be to a restaurant, movie, or somewhere else that you normally would go with someone else. you may tell yourself things like “This is really going to be awful hanging out by myself in public.” or “What will people think?.” You might say to yourself “This is going to be a boring 2 hours alone.” In order to see if you‘re accurate, write down a percentage before you go, from 1-100%, that predicts how satisfying the experience is going to be for you. After you complete your activity, decide again a percentage that describes the amount of satisfaction that you actually got out of participating in the activity with your Self. You may be surprised at the before and after discrepancy!

One good thing about being single on Valentine’s Day: you can pretty much do whatever you want without having to automatically consider another person’s feelings! Not to mention the money saved on cards and gifts, candy, or pricey dinners. Do something you will look back on and appreciate this Valentine’s Day, like catching up on homework or getting out a project you haven’t gotten around to finishing. Other ideas for places to take yourself: visit the Milwaukee Art Museum, Domes, the Milwaukee Public Museum, walk around the 3rd Ward, go out to lunch at a bookstore, head to Kern for a workout, or go to a sporting event. Even those of you with significant others would benefit from taking the time to build a relationship with your Self. If you find yourself feeling down because you don’t have a “special someone” right now- take the opportunity to appreciate the time you spend alone. Those who do will rarely be lonely, whether or not they have a significant other in their life.

“You cannot be lonely if you like the person you’re alone with.” -Dr. Wayne W. Dyer

How To Be Alone – Youtube
Authentic Happiness – University of Pennsylvania

Amber Gravitter, Intern Counselor, MSOE Counseling Services
January 2011

As we begin another new year, many individuals are making resolutions to improve their lives in one way or another. The ultimate goal in fulfilling the majority of these resolutions is to improve one’s quality of life. In one word, what they are seeking is “happiness.” Most people tend to think of happiness as a temporary warm fuzzy feeling. Within the last decade, happiness has become a legitimate topic of scientific inquiry. The newly emerging discipline of Positive Psychology studies the strengths and virtues that enable individuals and communities to thrive. A leader in positive psychology research is Dr. Martin Seligman who heads the Positive Psychology Center at the University of Pennsylvania. As a way to collect data for their research on happiness, the University of Pennsylvania has created a website on which they have questionnaires and assessments pertaining to happiness. You can find it here. On this website you can take questionnaires on subjects like life satisfaction, general happiness and the compassionate love scale.

The critical question surrounding happiness research is: Can we enhance our overall happiness? According to Seligman? research the answer is yes. We do this by looking at ways to enhance the three components of happiness which are: getting more pleasure out of life, becoming more engaged in what you do and finding ways of making your life feel more meaningful. One way to approach these components is to work on self-improvement and being happy with who you are.
A great resource for working on self-improvement is to complete a strengths assessment which can be found here. Learning ones strengths not only gives you a sense of self-satisfaction, but encourages personal growth.

Some additional tips from positive psychologists on enhancing your happiness include:

  • counting your blessings
  • practicing acts of kindness
  • savoring life’s joys
  • thanking a mentor
  • learning to forgive
  • investing time and energy in friends and family
  • caring for your body
  • developing strategies for coping with stress and hardships (Wallis, 2005)

The single most effective way to enhance your happiness is to participate in what Seligman calls a gratitude visit. A gratitude visit means writing a thank you letter to anyone you admire and then visiting that person and reading that letter to them. Individuals that did the gratitude visit were found to be less depressed than individuals that did not a month after the experience.
Another simple activity you can do is to keep a gratitude journal and write down three things every day that you are thankful for and why (Wallis, 2005). In 2011, give some thought as to how you might incorporate these suggestions for increasing happiness in your life.

So as we head into this holiday season there are many things you can do to make your holidays happy, not only for yourself, but others as well.

Wallis, C. (2005). The New Science of Happiness.

Don’t forget MSOE’s Counseling Services! Counseling Services provides a setting in which students may discuss in confidence with a counselor any problems that affect them. The counselor can help students focus on realistic solutions to these and other potential problem

Elizabeth Para, Intern Counselor, MSOE Counseling Services
October 2008

This month’s newsletter comes from Outside the Classroom. It is a Boston-based health education company founded to address critical behavioral health issues. The company’s flagship product, AlcoholEdu, is a non-opinionated, science based online course that helps students make better decisions about drinking.

This is your brain
Your brain is an amazingly complex organ. It contains hundreds of billions of cells, some of which are several feet long. Brain cells come in two general types, neurons and glial cells. Neurons are the little information processing units of the brain, while glial cells perform a wide variety of roles, many of which involve nurturing neurons in one way or another. Each of the billions of neurons in your brain communicates with anywhere from 1 to 200,000 other neurons, forming an incredibly intricate network.

This is your brain during college
Until recently, it was assumed that most of the important changes in brain function occurred long before you entered college. We now know this is wrong. Changes in brain organization and function continue during you adulthood, and experience plays a key role in guiding these changes. The decisions you make about alcohol and other drugs could have important implications for how your brain develops.

This is your brain with a buzz
Alcohol produces a wide range of effects, from a mild buzz at low doses to death at high doses.  It does so by altering the activity of neurons in the brain. While some drugs have very specific effects, targeting just one or two chemical messenger systems, alcohol does not. Alcohol wreaks havoc in the brain, affecting just about everything the brain does at one dose or another.

Here is a partial list of the effects of alcohol:

  • Impairs motor coordination (e.g., the ability to walk/drive)
  • Impairs memory (e.g., produces blackouts)
  • Impairs judgment and decision making (e.g. people often they they’re OK to drive when they’re not)
  • Impairs impulse control (e.g., increases the odds you’ll do things you might regret later)
  • Impairs sexual function (e.g., causes impotence and decreases vaginal lubrication)
  • Can directly cause death

This is your brain long after the buzz wears off
Ever wonder why people often feel ill after a night of drinking? The short answer is that alcohol is toxic to the body and brain. If drinking during a single night can make you feel sick for the entire next day, it should come as no surprise that drinking heavily on a regular basis can cause some serious damage, including damage to your brain. Alcohol abuse has been linked with widespread changes in the size, structure, and function of the brain. Some of the areas hardest hit include the frontal lobes, cerebellum, and hippocampus, all of which become smaller and dysfunctional when alcohol is abused. If you think that only hardcore, lifelong heavy drinking can damage your brain, think again. One recent study suggests that alcohol abuse during the teenage years alone can cause damage to key bran regions, particularly the hippocampus.

Such findings might help explain why teenagers who abuse alcohol exhibit cognitive impairments (e.g., deficits in memory and reasoning) for at least three weeks after their last drink.

Links and Resources
Check out the following resources for more information:

MSOE Counseling Services creates monthly newsletters on mental health concerns and psychological issues. You can view the complete list of downloadable Counseling Services Newsletters.

MSOE Counseling Services is located on the second floor of the Kern Center  (K-230). To schedule an appointment with a counselor, call (414) 277-7590 or visit the Counseling Services homepage.