Selected Podcast

The MIT Let’s Chat Program

Let’s Chat is a program that provides students with easy access to informal, free, confidential consultations with counselors from MIT Medical’s Mental Health & Counseling Service. No appointment is needed; just drop in. Meetings are brief (20 minutes), and you and your counselor will determine if additional follow-up is needed.

In this segment Leslie Langston, Licensed Social Worker at MIT Medical, discusses some common concerns that students may have, including stress, sadness, anxiety, difficulty adjusting to school, family problems, or relationship issues, and how Let's Chat can help with these issues that many students face.
The MIT Let’s Chat Program
Featured Speaker:
Leslie Langston, L.I.C.S.W
Leslie Langston is a Licensed Social Worker MIT Medical. She received her M.A. at Simmons Graduate School of Social Work and completed an internship at the Simmons College Counseling Center at Harvard Vanguard Medical Associates. Outside of work, Leslie enjoys gardening, spending time with her family, and learning about astrophysics.

Learn more about Leslie Langston, L.I.C.S.W
Transcription:

Melanie Cole: Let's Chat is a confidential program that provides MIT undergraduate and graduate students with easy access to informal free confidential consultation with counselors from MIT Medical's mental health and counseling service. My guest today is Leslie Langston. She's a licensed social worker at MIT Medical. Welcome to the show. What is Let's Chat?

Leslie Langston, LICSW: Let's Chat is a program that provides students with, as you said, easy access to informal free and confidential consultations with counselors from MIT Medical’s mental health and counseling service.

Melanie: Who should visit Let’s Chat and who can visit Let's Chat?

Leslie: Really anyone who is a student at MIT, meaning graduate and undergraduate students

Melanie: What happens at Let’s Chat? Why would somebody want to attend a session there?

Leslie: Let's Chat is a lower barrier way to receive a little touch of counseling. The sessions are 20 minutes long and they're also informal such that you can just write your name, or we’d rather prefer you write an X for confidentiality purposes, on a little sheet, sign up, we come out, greet you, bring you back in to the room and we can talk about anything you’d like to talk. The door is closed.

Melanie: What about appointments? Do you have to make appointments in advance? How does that work?

Leslie: No, you don’t need an appointment; all you need to do is to write an X next to the time slot that you prefer, walk on in and meet with us. That’s one of the ways that we keep it such an easy to receive a little touch of counseling.

Melanie: Who is Let’s Chat good for? Who do you think should be coming there? What would they be experiencing that you would say ‘why don’t you come into Let's Chat and we can discuss it?’

Leslie: Let's Chat is good for individuals who wouldn’t normally come to the counseling service. The counseling service can be intimidating to some students, especially students who've never done any counseling before or have fears about what it might like to walk into our center. Let's Chat is a way that we can meet with students who wouldn’t normally be seen by in a formal session.

Melanie: If someone’s currently in crisis, should they go to Let's Chat?

Leslie: Most likely not. We have had students come in who have been in a crisis, and when they are in crisis, if they're in a very severe crisis, we will talk them to the counseling services that they can have the needed services. Otherwise, a crisis isn't really the best way to utilize Let's Chat services.

Melanie: You say that Let's Chat visits are confidential. We discussed that a little at the beginning. Are there any exceptions to that confidentiality?

Leslie: It is a law, a state law, that if someone represents themselves to be a harm to themselves or others, we have to break confidentiality because they're a danger. In that instance, we would need to report to the higher authority, for example, a police officer or I could be considered a higher authority because I could help them get the kind of crisis care that they need. Those are the only two instances that we would need to break confidentiality. Actually, there's two more, which are if you report that a child is being harmed or an elderly person is being harmed. Those are the other two instances that we need to break confidentiality, but it’s really for protective reasons only.

Melanie: How is a visit to Let's Chat different from a visit to the mental health and counseling?

Leslie: Let's Chat visits do not require an intake session. An intake session is where we spent a good amount of time asking all kinds of questions – health-related questions, questions related to the family or the upbringing or the academic experience. Let's Chat sessions are only 20 minutes long and they're really very present-oriented. It's a time to touch base with one of us. If you have an issue or a problem and you need a little bit of advice or you need a little pointer in which direction you should go, perhaps we would suggest that you have ongoing counseling with one of our clinicians or perhaps we suggest that you see a dean for an academic issue or maybe even go to the violence prevention center if you're struggling with an issue related to sexual violence.

Melanie: When someone is at Let's Chat, is there any prescription medication involved or is it strictly just really talking with a counselor and working out some of your issues?

Leslie: That’s a really good question. We do not prescribe during the Let's Chat sessions. If someone is in need of a medication refill, for example, or to get a medication or taper off a medication, that’s better left for the clinicians who prescribe and who will take their time and really interview the patients in order to make sure that the person is safe with the medication and that there are no side effects, etc. Let's Chat is really talk therapy.

Melanie: As students tend to be stressed out, as we all do but students and certainly students at MIT, more than most, how can Let's Chat help them with some of the stress that they feel from classes and studying and papers that are due? Do you discuss ways of stress management with them?

Leslie: Yes, absolutely. In fact, I'm a stress reduction expert I guess you could say. We provide a lot of tips. We have what I call a toolbox full of stress reduction tips, including tips on how to stop procrastinating or how to study better, how to sleep more efficiently so that you can concentrate better. Some of the other things that we might discuss regarding stress are the relationships that you have with others and how to manage those in ways, how to manage the social life, how to manage your study time, and we also are able to interview the student and we might get a little hint that they might have a learning disability. In that instance, we would refer them to the student disability services.

Melanie: Why don't you wrap it up for us with your best advice and information about the Let's Chat program through MIT Medical mental health and counseling what you want students to know about coming into Let's Chat, why they should come in and how easy it is to come in, see a counselor and get help with some of those issues they might be having.

Leslie: I guess the quick and short response to that would be if you feel as though you're not really ready to undergo a counseling enterprise, for example, a full 10 sessions or 20 sessions of counseling, if you really just want to get a little flavor of what counseling is like, come to Let's Chat. We have two locations. One location is in the physics department every Tuesday from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m., and that is building 8, room 8-316, and the other location is the office of minority education building 4, room 4-107. Come to Let's Chat if you want to touch base with one of us. It’s easy access, low barrier counseling, brief sessions and if you like it, then maybe you'd like to come over to the counseling service and undergo a longer term of therapy for yourself.

Melanie: Thank you so much. It’s really great information and so important for students and listeners to hear. This is Conversations with MIT Medical. For more information, please visit medical.mit.edu. That’s medical.mit.edu. This is Melanie Cole. Thanks for tuning in.