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USD Counseling Center Launches New Online Therapy Assistance Tool

A white sign with TAO and its logo on it. The sign is propped up on a brown chair. The USD Student Counseling Center adopted Therapy Assistance Online (TAO), a tool that offers virtual counseling and educational resources related to mental health, wellness and substance abuse issues.

VERMILLION, S.D. – The University of South Dakota Student Counseling Center (SCC) introduced a new tool, Therapy Assistance Online (TAO), to offer virtual counseling and educational resources related to mental health, wellness and substance abuse issues. Adopted early this month, TAO also offers interactive sessions, mindfulness exercises and practice tools aimed at helping students achieve their goals.

TAO is available to all USD students, faculty and staff. The program allows for individuals to educate themselves about mental health issues and develop their own recover plan.

“Students can use TAO as a self-help tool to independently work on specific areas they want to improve in their life,” said Debra Robertson, LCSW-PIP, LAC, QMHP, director of the SCC. “We know many students do not seek the support of counseling, but we feel it is important that they still have access to resources to work through issues on their own and at their own pace.” 

Robertson said the SCC has seen an influx of students seeking support this semester, which has caused a waitlist at most mental health clinics, both on and off campus. 

“More individuals are experiencing increased stress and uncertainty, leading to more cases of ongoing depression and anxiety issues,” Robertson said. “Students have expressed ongoing disappointment, isolation, loss and general hopelessness surrounding COVID-19 and the climate we currently live in. In order for our students to continue to thrive and focus on their education, it’s important that we provide the support necessary to be successful.”

TAO also provides a platform for professional counselors to use as a supplement to the counseling experience, allowing clients to work on assigned modules outside of the therapeutic environment.

For more information or to download the TAO app, visit


Founded in 1862 and the first university in the Dakotas, the University of South Dakota is the only public liberal arts university in the state, with 202 undergraduate and 84 graduate programs in the College of Arts & Sciences, School of Education, Knudson School of Law, Sanford School of Medicine, School of Health Sciences, Beacom School of Business and College of Fine Arts. With an enrollment of nearly 10,000 students and more than 400 faculty, USD has a 16:1 student/faculty ratio, and it ranks among the best in academics and affordability. USD’s 18 athletic programs compete at the NCAA Division I level.


Hanna DeLange
USD News