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Staff Story Archives

Counseling Director

Steve MaybellIt took Steve Maybell 32 years to find his dream job.

As director of the Seattle Pacific University Student Counseling Center, Maybell now has nearly 3,000 undergraduate students as clients, all entitled to use the Center’s services free of charge.

“I’ve never loved a job to the degree I love this one,” says Maybell, a licensed independent social worker and marriage and family therapist. “It’s the school, it’s the vision, it’s never having felt more useful than the difference I can make in the lives of these students. Other places I’ve worked, the clients have drained me. Not here.”

He attributes that sentiment to the caliber of student attracted to Seattle Pacific.

“The most important factor in the success of mental health therapy is the resources that the clients bring with them. In the case of our students, they generally have strong family support, strong values, and plenty of youth and energy.”

Healthier Than Most

What surprises some people is that 600 students, about 20 percent of SPU undergraduates, are seen at the Center each year. That, says Maybell, is an indication of how healthy SPU students are, not how troubled.

“Those strong families produce students with a lot of wisdom who are not resistant to seeking help. That means that when we see them, they haven’t progressed as far in their distress.”

Every student is guaranteed to be seen immediately if in crisis, in a few days if not. The average student client receives up to six one-hour counseling sessions.

Putting Minds at Ease

A father of two who has published two parenting books, including Raising Respectful Kids in a Rude World, Maybell understands the worry parents experience, especially when a child is away from home for the first time.

“As long as our kids were under our roof, I never had a sleepless night,” he says with a smile. “But I’ve had many since they moved out.”

And no wonder. Often some combination of the adjustment to college, an unfamiliar environment, separation, sickness, or the vicissitudes of youth can lead to a host of problems, such as stress, anxiety, depression, relationship struggles, spiritual concerns, and academic challenges.

Maybell likes to put parents’ minds at ease. “They can call me if they have a concern,” he says. “Parents are such a big part of student success. They need to know that SPU is a supportive and comforting place. Students don’t fall through the cracks here. We believe in helping clients tap into their own wisdom, creativity, and strengths to meet their challenges.”

Read other stories in the Staff Story Archives