By Jack Cackler (Bridge Peer Counseling Center)
I've had the great fortune of being a live-in director at the Bridge Peer Counseling Center for two years now, and it has been an incredible home for me at Stanford. I'm going to try to give a little bit of insight into what life is like at the Bridge, some of the services we offer, and what the Bridge means to Stanford. The Bridge was founded in 1971 as a student run drug counseling center. To add a bit of context, the late sixties and early seventies saw a lot of unrest and tension between students and administrators mainly over the Vietnam War, but there were a lot of great things that came out of these conflicts. One of these boons was that several students and professors wanted a place for students to feel comfortable to turn to if they needed help, without fear of legal repercussions. And so the Bridge was born.
Over the course of the seventies, the Bridge became home to a growing number of support groups, for eating disorders, bereavement, and a wide host of challenges that students and members of the community face. The Bridge eventually evolved into it's current form as a general purpose student counseling center. It is the oldest student-run counseling center in the world, and we are frequently asked for help setting up counseling centers on other campuses.
The Bridge is open for counseling over the phone 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and in person from 9 AM to midnight daily. In order to staff such long hours, I live at the center with three other amazing live-ins, and together we are on call each night of the week. We also have about 30 wonderful active staffers that take shifts throughout the week. We train new counselors each quarter through two classes, Education 193A and 193P. Working with the class is actually one of the most fun parts about working with the Bridge, as we have a constant influx of awesome, caring people. I'd highly recommend either class to anyone who's remotely interested, and they are offered every quarter.
The Bridge is located in Rogers House, between Tresidder and FloMo, and right next to the Bechtel International Center. We average 1 or 2 counsels a day, and we are always open to listen to anyone, whether problems are serious, or if they just want to talk to someone to sort things out. We share our beautiful house with several other amazing student groups, including Dance Marathon, FACE AIDS, Colleges Against Cancer, Stanford Peace of Mind, MIRROR, and Relay for Life. It's awesome being surrounded by people doing such amazing things day in and day out.
The Bridge has meant a tremendous amount to me personally. I took the class three years ago at the recommendation of a friend, and it was interesting to me, as a science major, getting exposed to something I wouldn't otherwise learn about in a classroom setting. Learning how to truly listen to people and try to help them has been transformational for me, and has been invaluable on a number of occasions. I am extremely grateful to have been able to use many of the skills I've learned at the Bridge just to be there for friends, not as a counselor but just as a friend, when they need someone to talk to.
To anyone who wants someone to talk to, whether you're having a sunny or a rainy day, our doors and phones are always open. To anyone wishing to learn more about counseling and caring for the people around you, we welcome you to our family. Warm happy wishes from the Bridge!