TAO Connect: Your Own Personal Online Therapist
A new online resource debuting this fall is expanding the university’s mental health services and giving students a series of tools specifically tailored to their individual needs.
The program called TAO Connect, which stands for Therapy Assistance Online, is offered through the Counseling and Psychological Services, or CAPS, office on main campus. It is an additional resource for students to receive emotional support whether they are struggling with academic stress, COVID-19-related loss or anxiety, depression, loneliness, or any other personal turmoil.
“This is another way for CAPS to reach out,” said Jennifer Horowitz, director of CAPS. “Students may want access to mental health resources, but feel hesitant about coming into our office. This new option gives them the ability to access helpful services online.”
The free platform includes a digital library of interactive modules and courses, progress trackers, and journals to follow each user's development within the program. Whether a person is going through a breakup or is having an off day, TAO Connect provides the right tool kit to help the person process their emotional turmoil and bounce back from it to recover.
The program does not replace a student’s option to attend face-to-face counseling at the CAPS office on campus; it provides an additional resource outside of regular business hours for those whose schedules are limited during the day. TAO Connect is available 24/7, 365 days a year via web access, or through an app.
“Widener is committed to student success,” said Catherine Feminella, associate dean of students. “That means providing academic support in the classroom, and confidential emotional and behavioral health support outside of it in accessible formats that reach students in their free time.”
Horowitz added: “As stigma about the need for mental health care diminishes, and people recognize it’s OK to want and ask for help, we expect TAO Connect will be a valuable, well-used resource in the Widener community.”
To access the resource, students – and faculty and staff, who are also eligible to use it – should visit the TAO Connect registration page, and register with their Widener credentials. Users have unlimited access to the platform. TAO Connect at Widener is made possible through a grant to the university from Crystal Trust Foundation.
The resource has launched as CAPS settles in to new office space at 522 E. 14th St. That building, also known as the Pineapple House, has a centralized campus location and is easy for students to find. In addition, CAPS has welcomed two new therapists to the staff, who are available for appointments.
“We recognize the importance of meeting students’ needs for mental health services. With all stress and uncertainty the pandemic has brought to our lives, it’s perhaps more important now than ever,” Horowitz said.
Student Sarah Haynie, president of with Active Minds, a Widener student organization that works to spread awareness about mental health and suicide prevention, said TAO Connect and the other changes at CAPS are beneficial additions.
“With TAO, students can access tons of resources to support their mental wellness,” Haynie said. “As a busy student and mental health advocate on campus, I’m excited to have this resource available at Widener,” Haynie said.
For more information about TAO Connect, or to make an appointment for a face-to-face session with a CAPS counselor, call 610-499-1261.