CORVALLIS - The Department of University Counseling and Psychological Services has received full accreditation from the International Association of Counseling Centers, becoming the first program in Oregon to receive such honors.

The accreditation is important because it reinforces both the diversity of services and the quality of counseling OSU offers its students, said UCPS director Rebecca Sanderson. It also will help the department attract top staff and faculty, she added.

"The accreditation process was rigorous, but it helps us compare ourselves to the standards of the profession," Sanderson said. "We think we've been doing a good job; it's nice to hear external panel of professionals say that we're providing a very good service to students."

Last year the department, which has 11 therapists and three academic advisers in addition to Sanderson, logged more than 35,000 contacts with students. These contacts include individual counseling, group counseling, meeting with academic advisers, and giving seminars and workshops. The staff also had between 900 and 1,000 calls from OSU faculty for consultations on helping students.

Evaluators from the International Association of Counseling Centers looked at the department's stability of funding, the credentials of its staff, the counselor-patient ratio, evaluation procedures, policies, diagnostic abilities, outreach, consultation, and clinical procedures.

OSU received particularly high marks for its assessment of services and the use of technology. The department is one of the first in the country to use PDAs (personal digital assistant) to administer diagnostics tests - an advancement that Sanderson says not only is beneficial, but popular.

"Most students prefer working on the PDAs over filling out paper forms," she said. "And we are able to access the information quickly, plug it into a database and look at patients' changes in functioning over time. It's much quicker, and much more efficient."

Several universities from around the country have either sent representatives to OSU or have been in contact with UCPS staff to receive training for implementation of those technologies on their own campuses.