Spotlight on Staff: Meet Counselor Erin Hayden

Posted: July 24, 2017

Says Hayden, “When students are in crisis, having access to a trained professional right away can make a huge difference. “

Licensed mental health counselor Erin Hayden is the college’s first counselor, and she is responsible for providing support to students as they navigate their way through college.

The northwest native holds a Master’s Degree in community counseling from Seattle University, a Bachelor’s Degree in English literature from Western Washington University, and an Associate’s Degree from Whatcom Community College. Her background is primarily in community mental health settings, with a special emphasis on the LGBTQ population.

She is passionate about supporting students from a strengths-based perspective that builds practical strategies for success. Welcome, Erin!

Q1: What does your new role at Bates include?

Counseling is a new service to the Bates community, and I am so glad to be here! My job is to support students in ways that align with the college’s mission – to inspire, challenge, and educate for personal growth and career success. Some students who have ongoing mental health concerns, such as depression or anxiety, benefit from meeting confidentially with a counselor 1:1 on a regular basis for emotional support as they navigate the college experience. Others seek counseling in response to stress – going back to school after a long time, a recent change such as moving or a relationship ending, parenting stress, or conflict with classmates.

When students are in crisis, having access to a trained professional right away can make a huge difference. People find it helpful to have a neutral “sounding board” who can be a supportive listener and help generate solutions to problems. Services are confidential (with some safety limitations) and free to current students. I also frequently collaborate with faculty to provide mental health consultation, training, mediation and referrals.

I see my role as part of a team of people working together with the student toward creative solutions to problems the student is facing so that they can continue to grow and achieve their dreams.

Q2: What’s the best part of your job so far?

They haven’t let me wear the Brutus the Bobcat mascot suit just yet, but I still think I have the best job on campus! I love working with students. They are the heart of what I do, and of the Bates family. Everyone comes with their own story and their own dreams, and witnessing our students’ growth is such an honor.

I get to see just about every part of the Bates experience in one way or another. From working with individual students to visiting classrooms to all of the logistical work that goes on behind the scenes, I see an incredible community of people working together to make change possible.

There’s a deep sense of shared purpose, of a commitment to hope in even the most frustrating situations.

Q3: What is the easiest way for students to contact you?

Students can request that I contact them by filling out a form on our website:

They can also call me at 253.280.7006 or email

Q4: What can students expect at their first appointment?

Counseling sessions usually happen 1:1 in a confidential office space and last about 45 minutes. Since counseling is confidential, I start by explaining what that means and the (safety-related) limitations. Then, I invite the student to share what brought them in.

My primary treatment modality is Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT). CBT looks at patterns of thinking or behavior that underlie a person’s difficulties. Once we understand these patterns, they can begin to change and open up new possibilities for problem solving.

Q5: What do you like to do outside of work?

I am a proud member of the LGBTQ+ family and enjoy being part of community events. I love good food, great music, and unforgettable conversation almost as much as I love purring kittens, naps in a hammock, and an excellent book.

Go to for more information about counseling services at BTC.