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Stanford Report, January 5, 2000

Annual Report of the Stanford Help Center

September 1, 1998 - August 31, 1999

David A. Rasch, Director

The Stanford Help Center is an employee assistance program that provides brief professional counseling, referral, consultation and educational services for the faculty and staff of Stanford University, Stanford Medical School, Stanford Hospital, Lucile Packard Children's Hospital and Stanford Linear Accelerator. The Help Center is a free and confidential benefit that is also available to immediate family members. By providing an easily accessible channel for resolving work-related and personal problems, the Help Center assists clients in returning to improved levels of job performance, morale, and personal and professional well-being. This annual report will describe the Help Center's staff, activities and statistics for the 1998-1999 year.

New Location

On October 1, 1998, the Help Center's central offices were relocated to 100 Encina Commons, at 615 Crothers Way. Our new location has increased the size of our offices, is a quiet, appealing location which is easily accessible, and affords a good deal of anonymity for clients.


The Help Center staff includes a full-time director and administrative associate, eight part-time counselors (3.25 FTE) and two psychology doctoral interns. The counseling staff has a broad range of expertise, and comes from the disciplines of psychology, social work, and marriage and family therapy. Additional information about the staff is also available on-line at:

Director - David Rasch, PhD

Administrative Associate - Margaret Pinedo


Kevin Carr, MFT

Mary Foston-English, MFT

Rosan Gomperts, MSW

Margy Lim, MFT

Sean O'Riordan, Ph.D., MFT

Nan Reitz, LCSW

Carol Zimbelman, LCSW

Ximena Zurita, PhD

Sheila Henderson (doctoral intern)

Sam Standard (doctoral intern)

Satellite Offices

We have two days of office hours in the Medical Center, where we see faculty and staff from Stanford Medical School, UCSF Stanford Health Care, and Menlo Medical Clinic. Kevin Carr works one day a week at our counseling office at the Stanford Linear Accelerator. We also continue to offer Help Center office hours in San Jose in order to provide access to our services for those faculty and staff whose work schedule or family demands preclude their using our Stanford locations. Mary Foston-English staffs this office on Wednesdays.

Web Site:

The Help Center web site has been expanded to include information about the Help Center, profiles of the staff, listings of upcoming workshops and groups, an extensive bibliography, links to campus and community resources, and educational information related to a number of common personal and workplace problems. Registration to attend our noon-hour workshops can be done from the site. Recently we have had an average of about 400 hits per month at the site and we are looking at ways of further developing this resource to enhance the services we provide.

Advisory Board

The Help Center maintains an Advisory Board to provide guidance, feedback and support from a cross section of faculty and staff who represent the different groups we serve. During the past year the Board meetings have generated many useful ideas related to improving publicity, workshop topics, responding to staff morale issues, and assisting during organizational changes.

The Board president is Marvin Herrington, Director of Public Safety, and the Vice President is Robert Gregg, Dean of Religious Life. The other members are: Ann Baldwin, Nurse Consultant, Stanford Health Services; Cori Bossenberry, Manager of Employee Relations, Stanford Medical School; Anne Fernald, Asssociate Professor of Psychology and Vice Provost for Faculty Development; Jim Franklin, Director, Total Compensation; Linda Lee, Manager of Compensation, Personnel Services; Emory Teranishi, Manager, Employee Relations, UCSF-Stanford Health Care; John Pearson, Director, Bechtel International Center; David Spiegel, Professor, Department of Psychiatry; Ruth Shanahan, Manager, Employee Health, UCSF-Stanford Health Care; David Stevenson, Professor of Pediatrics; Carl Thoresen, Professor, School of Education; Russ Whiteford, Staff Affairs Officer, Facilties Operations.

Summary of Activities

During the 98-99 year 1,951 faculty and staff utilized some aspect of the Help Center's services. This represents 11.5% of the entire population we serve.

Overall Utilization

Please consult the 1/5/00 print edition of Stanford Report for appropriate figures.

Counseling Statistics

Please consult the 1/5/00 print edition of Stanford Report for appropriate figures.

The counseling program, which is the primary focus of the Help Center's activities, had an intake of 886 clients, which is 5.2% of the population of faculty and staff eligible for the benefit. Most clients hear about the Help Center through employee orientation, publicity or word-of-mouth, and are self referred. The average number of sessions per opened case is 3.0, though up to ten sessions are available. Immediate family members are eligible for the benefit, but in 90% of our sessions the faculty or staff member is present, either individually or as part of a couple or family group. We make referrals for clients who would benefit from specialized or longer- term assistance. The majority of these referrals are for outpatient psychotherapy, with the remainder being to substance abuse programs, inpatient psychiatric facilities, and self-help groups.

Workplace Respect and Communication

Our second most common problem category is "job stress". Most of these cases have an interpersonal component, frequently involving an unresolved conflict with a supervisor, supervisee or co-worker. In those cases where a workplace conflict involves disrespectful, insulting or hostile exchanges, the stress level associated with the problem increases dramatically. Our role has been to support clients in dealing with these situations and to teach skills for responding and communicating clearly and assertively with those who are behaving provocatively or disrespectfully. When appropriate, a referral is made to Human Resources, the Ombudsperson, union representatives or the Sexual Harrassment Coordinator.

This year the Help Center has presented several programs that address interpersonal issues within the workforce. Carol Zimbelman and Rosan Gomperts designed and presented classes on "Communicating with Tact and Skill" which focused on building skills for communicating effectively in challenging workplace situations. This class was offered to several departments as an in-service training, and as a course open to the community. Mary Foston-English and Sean O'Riordon have created a class that deals with cross-cultural communication issues at work. There has been a strong response to this program, and it is being offered again this fall. A class in anger management will also be offered by the Help Center this winter.

We have also shown a video to several University departments entitled "The Respectful Workplace", which addresses a number of issues related to the impact of uncivil or disrespectful behavior on the job. These presentations have initiated many rich conversations about the emotional and interpersonal environment at Stanford. These well-attended presentations have also been given to staff and faculty groups in the Medical School on a number of occasions. This has been a collaborative effort with Cori Bossenberry, Manager of Human Resources, and the Medical School Ombudsperson Martha McKee, with the goal of increasing awareness, dialogue and sensitivity to these issues.

Occasionally hostile situations escalate in intensity, and concerns about workplace violence may emerge. The Help Center has participated in an effort coordinated by Keith Smith, Manager of Employee Relations, with several other departments on campus to develop a Threat Assessment Team for the University. This group has the mission of evaluating potentially dangerous situations and implementing interventions for safe resolutions of the problems.

Mental Health Benefits

University and Hospital employees who have health benefits also have coverage for mental health and substance abuse treatment. The Help Center often assists people with understanding and utilizing their mental health insurance. All Stanford University faculty and staff with benefits have United Behavioral Health for mental health coverage, in addition to coverage offered by their medical plan. UCSF Stanford employees have the mental health benefits that are included in the medical benefits plan they selected.

UCSF Stanford Health Care Merger

In our work with employees at UCSF-Stanford Health Care, issues related to transition and organizational change continue to be central due issues related to the rise and fall of the merger with UCSF. Hospital employees have experienced a significant amount of professional and institutional change over the past several years, and we are continuing receive requests for assistance with the personal and departmental impact of these ongoing, rapid changes and layoffs. Our office hours in the hospital have been well utilized, and we have expanded our services to include another half-day of counseling at that site.


Eight groups were offered during the past year. These groups were attended by fifty faculty and staff and addressed workplace communication skills, writing productivity (2 groups), issues for women of color, cross-cultural communication(2 groups), tenure track stresses, and support for medical residents. The groups generally run from 6-10 sessions and incorporate an educational component as well as the opportunity for discussion with others who share similar concerns. During the current year we will also be offering new groups for parents of adolescents, anger management and disabled faculty and staff.

Departmental Consultations

The Help Center responds to requests from departments to facilitate group discussion of staff problems or to present educational training on topics such as managing job stress during organizational change, communications skills on the job, dealing with anger, workplace violence and issues related to alcohol and drug addictions. On a number occasions we facilitated discussions with department groups following the death of a co-worker; these sessions were very useful for helping individuals and groups with the adjustment and grief that follows such a loss. This year we provided consultation services to 25 departments within the University (10), and UCSF Stanford (15).

Noon-Hour Workshops

During the past year the Help Center sponsored nineteen noon-hour workshops presented on campus, at SLAC and at the Medical Center, featuring invited speakers and members of the Help Center staff. Margy Lim and Kevin Carr coordinated this program and a total of 489 faculty and staff attended the talks which addressed a broad range of work-related, psychological, family, health and social topics.

Whether the causes are workplace issues or personal problems, emotional and interpersonal struggles are inevitable for all of us. During difficult times, these stresses may emerge on the job in a number of ways. By providing confidential, professional counseling assistance, the Help Center offers a setting where Stanford faculty and staff can take time to focus attention on themselves and their professional and personal relationships. We appreciate the support we have received from many sources, and look forward to continuing to serve the Stanford community in the years ahead. SR