Get to know your counselors and what they can do for you

Marquis Stewart, 34, and Alicia Jackson, 41. Photo courtesy of Stewart and Jackson

The fear of talking to someone you don’t know, coupled with the buildup of emotional stress, could make the prospect of talking to a counselor scary. Especially when you are not sure if they genuinely want to help you, or just want a check. Thankfully, Marquis Stewart, 34, and Alicia Jackson, 41, two of the eight counselors at FAMU’s Office of Counseling Services, are much more the former and far from the latter.

Jackson, a FAMU alumna, received her bachelor’s and master’s degrees from FAMU, and her doctorate at the University of Georgia. Jackson inherited her need to give back and inspiration from her mother.Jackson’s sheer motivation to help students who grew up like her is inspiring.

“My mother had a high school diploma and a Lively certification in office administration. She never went to college. My mother did the best she could by me, considering her own knowledge base. But, I did not have much guidance or a clear understanding about college.  I had to figure it out on my own,”Jackson said. “I promised myself that one day I was going to give back to students who grew up like me, needing guidance and support.”

Jackson, who started seeing clients in 2009, said continuously watching people heal emotionally and become better versions of themselves, has shown her time and time again how important counseling is. Jackson believes in the benefits of group counseling, a program FAMU counseling services provides to its students.

“Group counseling is a tenet of therapy that involves the development of a safe space where 6-8 people who have similar issues can come and discuss their feelings, thoughts and emotions. It is a great place to make new friends, socialize, and help prevent isolation,” she said. “At FAMU, specifically, I have led depression, anxiety, social, and trauma groups. I like that the students who are often shy or feel alone quickly find out that they aren’t alone, and  that the tools taught in those sessions can be learned and practiced outside of group.”

Stewart, who is also a FAMU alum, has worked hard to get to where he is now, to provide the best care possible for FAMU students. He attended University of Virginia, Florida A&M University and Valdosta State University, where he earned a bachelor’s in English language and literature,along with master’s degrees in counselor educationand in leadership.

“As a graduate of FAMU, I have a vested interest in the university and our students. I genuinely enjoy being there for others during their time of need. Being a therapist gives me the opportunity to help people and to give them skills that they can use to also help themselves,” Stewart said. “I co-facilitate an interpersonal skills workshop called  ‘Can We Talk,’ a discussion series about healthy masculinity called ‘Man Talk,’ and a discussion series to gain information regarding sexual assault called ‘Trading Places.’”

Stewart discussed the importance of having someone to talk to, whether that be a counselor, friend, partner or family member. He emphasized the importance of self-care, say that sometimes even he forgets.

“When you’re caring for others, sometimes you can forget to make time for your own self-care. That’s something I’ve had to be more mindful of, especially this year. I’ve been more intentional about dedicating time each day for my own self-care and relaxation,” Stewart said.

Both counselors told The Famuan that the Office of Counseling Services also provides workshops to enhance skill-building, a self-help therapy app called WellTrack, and a phone counseling service called Well Connect (833) 848-1765 that is available for after-hours support. In addition, they provide individual, group and couples counseling, consultation, crisis, and outreach services, and all counselors are QPR certified to provide gatekeeper training for those interested in suicide prevention. These services are free for FAMU students.

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