Cook Counseling Center has new leader and location
The new director, Sarah Jones, sees the center's move to Gilbert Street supporting tailored, collaborative services for students.
Sarah Jones has joined Virginia Tech Student Affairs as director of Cook Counseling Center at its new location in the Gilbert Street building located along Prices Fork Road, Turner Street, and Gilbert Street.
“I'm excited to see the energy and expertise that Dr. Jones brings to continuing and elevating Cook’s commitment to the mental health of our students,” said Chris Wise, assistant vice president of health and well-being for Student Affairs.
“The vision for Cook at Gilbert Street is to further develop how our services meet the diverse needs of students,” said Jones, noting that the university's residential well-being model, with embedded counselors in residential units and colleges, helps empower Cook's care team to respond to student needs as they change over time.
While increased needs for student mental health support have made the recent addition of TimelyCare a vital option among the university’s wellness services, “our core strengths lie with our diverse staff, with their deep expertise, and an array of perspectives and specializations that are tailored to student needs,” said Jones.
“Our new location here on Gilbert Street will help us streamline services and provide a more robust service delivery model for the students, including our expanding Community Resiliency Model,” said Jones.
“Staff can consult more frequently, more directly, and more naturally to develop holistic service plans. Students can get a variety of services in one location, whether group programs, workshops, individual counseling, or psychiatry services.”
The new center includes Serenity Space, a comfortable room adjacent to the waiting area with sensory ambiance including natural light and water sculptures, created to "appeal to students who may appreciate more privacy or who would like a calm setting before or after a session, or even without having an appointment," said Jones.
"People sometimes get nervous prior to counseling sessions, or maybe they have just had a difficult week. The space can help them take perspective, get grounded, and self-regulate."
Before joining Virginia Tech, Jones directed Virginia Military Institute’s cadet counseling and disabilities services and served as an adjunct professor of psychology. She was senior staff psychologist at James Madison University, where she earned her Doctor of Psychology and bachelor’s degree, bookending her Master of Science in counselor education from Virginia Commonwealth University.
Jones said the new location mirrors her own enthusiasm for Cook’s potential to enhance campus wellness. “This is an exciting time to join everyone moving into this fresh space, with its opportunities to invigorate mental health and well-being initiatives for students.”