Campus’s free, voluntary counseling service: The Listening Post


Sam Byrd

Charlotte Nielson’s hands patiently rest while she and her husband volunteer to listen to strangers in the international hallway of Plemmons Student Union. Dave Nielson said “We like to volunteer because it’s a part of our personal mission.” Sept. 13, 2022.

Caroline Stainback, Reporter

In the International Hallway of the Plemmons Student Union sits a table with a sign reading “The Listening Post.” The post, a free, voluntary counseling service, is available and located throughout App State’s campus for students and faculty to utilize. 

Formed in 1979 to relieve emotional and psychological distress, the purpose of The Listening Post is to listen to those who just need to talk, said Faye Cooper, one of The Listening Post’s volunteers.

The first Listening Post was started by Mabel Barth, a communication professor at Auraria Higher Education Center in Denver. She decided to create The Listening Post as a non-threatening place where conversation could occur without a school record.

 During a time of increased mental health issues, The Listening Post expanded. It’s now offered at many colleges, universities, corporations, hospitals and several other public places.

According to their Facebook, The Listening Post has been available at App State since 2013, giving students the ability to talk with comfort about any problems they might be facing.

The Listening Post is sponsored by local churches and the Presbyterian Episcopal Campus Ministries and is run by volunteers, but the organization is non-denominational.

The Listening Post said on their Facebook that each volunteer asks non-judgmental, clarifying questions but also refrains from giving advice. If a serious issue is brought up, the volunteers will refer students to a counselor or administrator.

“We are literally a listening post. We’re just here to hand out snacks and talk to any young people or adults who want to come by and sit down,” said Cooper. “We just have a dialogue. We don’t offer opinions, we only offer experiences. We’re not advising.” 

Most of the time The Listening Post is just for conversation and relates to shared experience, Cooper said. 

“It’s really morphed into just kind of this listening coach,” said Stephen Upton, a volunteer. 

Upton got into the organization as a way of connecting with the younger generation, hoping to make a positive impact on students’ lives.

“I really was eager to get with some young people because you know, they’re so lively and so they have their whole lives in front of them and it’s just so refreshing,” Upton said. “The fact that I do have some life experiences that I could share if someone was interested so that was it.”

Upton and Cooper both said they feel it is a safe space for anyone to come and talk. The Listening Post is available Tuesdays and Thursdays 10 a.m.-3 p.m. in the International Hallway of Plemmons Student Union, Tuesdays and Thursdays from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. in the lobby of Levine Hall and Wednesdays in Trivette Hall, from 11:30 a.m.-1 p.m., according to their Facebook.