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How UCF Helps Students Reduce Anxiety Over The Holidays

Leon County Judge John Cooper on June 30, 2022, in a screen grab from The Florida Channel.
The Florida Channel
UCF counselor Karen Hofmann.

The holidays can be a stressful time. The University of Central Florida has a new online therapy program to help students over the break.

The program is called TAO—Therapist Assisted Online. It’s a seven-week program to lower mild to moderate anxiety. Students video conference with a therapist weekly, do modules on their free time and practice anxiety coping skills. The program was developed at the University of Florida.

UCF Director of Counseling and Psychological Services, Karen Hofmann, says going home for the holidays can be particularly stressful for freshmen who have had their first taste of freedom.

“Where they haven’t had a curfew and have not been necessarily accountable to anybody and they come back home and that transition, sometimes you have to renegotiate the rules and the expectations and that can be also stressful,” said Hofmann.

Hofmann said TAO is helping meet a demand. Almost 4,000 students accessed UCF’s counselors last year, many suffering from anxiety. Students are screened to see if this online program could work for them or if they may benefit more from face-to-face counseling.

Crystal Chavez is a reporter with WMFE in Orlando. WMFE  is a partner with Health News Florida, which receives support from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.