Monday, April 25, 2016

Helping students overcome challenges

Kevin Bowman, Ph.D., at the Walk A Mile 
in Her Shoes® & Resource Fair event, 
Aloha Tower Marketplace, April 2016.    
Director of Counseling and Behavioral Health Services Kevin Bowman, Ph.D., refers to himself as a student.

“I am a student of diversity, which means I’m always learning,” Bowman said. “I am also a student of psychology, so I am always learning different things about the field.” 

The journey of a career in clinical psychology began when Bowman “stumbled on an introductory psychology course” as an undergraduate, he said.

“The second course I took was clinical psychology and that really grabbed me,” Bowman said. “It talked about the connection in working with people and getting people through different trials and tribulations.”

Bowman holds a BA in psychology and earned an MA and Ph.D. from the A.P.A. approved Clinical Psychology program of Kent State University in Ohio.

Early in his career, Bowman served as a staff psychologist at the University of Pittsburgh. Prior to coming to Hawai‘i, Bowman held dual roles — associate vice president of Student Affairs and the director of the Counseling and Psychological Services Center — at San Francisco State University, where he was employed for 17 years.

Bowman worked as an associate professor of psychology at the Hawaii Professional School of Psychology in O‘ahu for three years before being hired as the director of counseling and behavioral health at HPU. 

“I really enjoyed teaching psychology to graduate students and really liked seeing students develop and mature into therapists,” he said. “But I think during that time as an associate professor I missed providing direct service —counseling services, psychotherapy services — to students.”

In the fall of 2010, Bowman started building the relatively new HPU Counseling and Behavioral Health Services department, from top to bottom. Bowman accepted the position, knowing he had the support of the university’s administrators, who understood the importance of servicing students’ mental health needs.

“Mental health challenges can directly affect classroom performance and attendance and retention,”  Bowman noted.

Within several months of Bowman taking the helm as director, Psychologist Kathryn Berano, Ph.D., came on board. Administrative Assistant Charis Arakaki then joined the department, and hopefully by this summer, the half-time licensed clinical therapist position will be filled.

The Counseling and Behavioral Health Services staff works closely with Dale Burke, D.Min., in his capacity as university chaplain. It is very much a team effort between Bowman, Berano, Arakaki and Burke.

“We try to get together as a team as much as possible,” Bowman said. “It’s a really good working environment. I think students feel that when they come in (seeking services).”  
Dale Burke, D.Min., University Chaplain and Assistant Professor
of Communication, and the Counseling and Behavioral Health staff,
Kathryn Berano, Ph.D., Charis Arakaki, and Kevin Bowman, Ph.D., 
at the “We Care!” kick-off event, Aloha Tower Marketplace, September 2015. 
Bowman also noted “there’s a closeness in the (HPU) community,” which helps the team service the counseling and behavioral health needs of students.

“The campus community helps us to do our jobs in a better way by identifying students and making referrals and bringing students to the counseling center,” he said. 

The campus counseling and behavioral health services are free and confidential for HPU students. The team not only services students struggling with significant mental health challenges, but students going through day-to-day challenges.     

“Yes, there are times when students come in and they are struggling with some very significant things, but that’s not as prominent as students coming in trying to get through journeys of life,” Bowman said. 

As the end of the school year nears, and perhaps along with it, there are stresses and challenges students are facing. HPU students are welcome to set up a free and confidential appointment with a clinical therapist at the downtown or Hawaii Loa campuses.

“I think it’s important for students to know coming in earlier is better than delaying,” Bowman said. If someone has not seen a clinical therapist before, “we will walk the student through the process. It’s much easier than people expect, and most find their session beneficial, and choose to return.”

More information on the Counseling and Behavioral Health Services department, and how students may make a free and confidential appointment, is posted here.                   

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