Students Seek Therapy for Emotional Distress Caused by Dance Marathon Solicitors

UCF Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) has become more busy than ever due to the spike in Dance Marathon donation drives recently. James Parker, therapist at CAPS, mentioned his amazement to what he refers to as the “Busy Season” at UCF’s counseling program, stating that “Our crisis intervention numbers are off the charts – if we were a business, we would have teamed up with the Dance Marathon program long ago.”

Common complaints from students include anxiety, flashbacks, and sleep problems, among other issues. Sophomore Chelsea Gardner remarked, “It’s like I can hear the change clinking around in the buckets wherever I go, taunting me, mocking me.” Psychology Professor Nicholas Barther compounded on the anecdote, “At first I thought students were just nervous because of the class, but then I realized ‘Wait, it has to be something else…this is Gen Pysch’, and that’s when I realized every time I would jingle the change in my pocket, my pupils would break out in a cold sweat, like a Pavlovian response.”

In response to the rise in emotional distress, CAPS has already attempted new treatments which include therapy sessions that encourage patients to face their fears. James Parker explained, “We basically sit the student in the room where they are nice and comfortable, and once a sense of security has been established, we bring in an actor dressed as a Dance Marathon solicitor. First we let the student watch and listen to the Dance Marathon Volunteer from a distance, and then we’ll gradually ramp up the risks. Perhaps we have the actor shake a bucket with coins in it, or maybe ambiguously ask for donations to anyone in particular. Sometimes we have to end for the day if tensions get too high, but most of the time it really does help.”

CAPS declined to comment on the success of the therapy but did say they appreciate this spike in activity as a way to warm up for finals week.

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