New director of Counseling and Psychological Services aims to foster community of care

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Sarah Godoy is the new director of Counseling and Psychological Services. She aims to collaborate with resources across campus to equip all members of the RIT community with the tools to care for the emotional wellbeing of themselves and others.

Sarah Godoy joined RIT in August as the new director of Counseling and Psychological Services (CaPS). She most recently worked as the director of the Counseling and Wellness Center at Western Washington University, and previously worked in the counseling center at Catholic University of America as a staff psychologist, director of outreach, and director of externship training. She studied psychology and Italian at Vassar College, earned her doctorate in clinical psychology at American University, and completed her postdoctoral fellowship at University of Michigan.

What are your main areas of interest in your work?

As a clinician, I especially enjoy working with students who are healing from traumatic experiences. The human capacity for recovery and resilience is tremendous, and I feel inspired whenever I work with a client who is on that journey of mending fractures and reclaiming their narrative. I also have a special spot in my heart for folks in the LGBTQ+ community who are looking to integrate parts of their identities that feel at odds, as well as students who are struggling with disordered eating. Perhaps due to my former roles, I also love training the next generation of therapists and working with campus partners to promote emotional well-being outside of the therapy room.

What are your responsibilities in your role at RIT?

As director of Counseling and Psychological Services, I get to wear many hats. Overall, my mission is to lead the department in providing high quality, culturally driven services and programs that support student mental health. I have a talented team of associate directors who get into the nitty gritty of clinical service delivery, community engagement, and graduate training. Their support is crucial in getting through the day to day. I aim to be available for urgent concerns that pop up throughout the day, whether that is providing consultation to a clinician on urgent care, speaking with parents about care options for their student, or determining follow up for students of concern. This happens both within our department and our integrated health service partners, as well as on interdepartmental teams across the university. At the same time, I will be seeing a small caseload of clients for short-term therapy and participating in our community engagement events. Every day is different from the one before, which is fantastic!

What do you hope to bring to RIT through the department?

I firmly believe that mental health and emotional well-being are a community responsibility. Our center cannot and will not be the gatekeepers of mental health. I want to help our community see that we all have the power to make a difference in someone’s life. Mental health is so much more than therapy. It’s also learning how to build relationships that honor your dignity, practicing how to set boundaries, and finding activities that spark joy. It’s checking in with a student who has been missing class, speaking up when you witness a bias incident, and connecting someone to a helpful resource. While we will certainly always provide direct therapy services and wellness programs, I am most excited to explore how we can strengthen relationships with campus partners who want to be part of creating a comprehensive community of care. You can expect to see more of a CaPS presence outside of the Student Health Center as we look to collaborate with others.

What makes the services that CaPS provides especially important for university students?

This cohort of university students has survived so many disruptive life events in recent years. They are also increasingly open about mental health topics, and they are shedding the stigma that past generations gripped onto. What that means to me is that our students have endured significant challenges and are not afraid to ask for help. Perhaps even more impressively, they want tools and information not just to help themselves, but also the people they care about. Even if a particular student does not need our services, they benefit from knowing about us and what we offer so that they can help friends get connected during times of need.

What kinds of resources does CaPS offer for students, faculty, and staff to learn about mental health and wellness?

We have so many options! Members of the RIT community can request a program or workshop on a number of wellness topics, such as suicide prevention, coping techniques, and stress management. We have a Mental Health and Wellness Programing Request Form request form on the website where community members can submit their requests. We also have multiple self-help resources that anyone can access online for more information about specific topics. We also encourage anyone who is passionate about supporting mental health to consider participating in a Mental Health First Aid training session this fall. You don’t need to be a mental health professional to make a meaningful difference, and Mental Health First Aid is a fantastic way to feel empowered and prepared in supporting our community’s well-being.

Will CaPS be participating in any events related to National Suicide Prevention Week? How can the RIT community get involved?

Yes, our kickoff event for National Suicide Prevention Week is Sept. 11. CaPS is also proud to be partnering with our friends in Health Promotion for Fresh Check Day on Sept. 13. We will be tabling along the Quarter Mile with different wellness activities and resources. It is a fun, interactive way to learn about stigma reduction, coping skills, and specific mental health issues. We encourage you to swing by!

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