Counseling Psychology Training Clinic expands portfolio of services
Department-run clinic provides quality service to clients, learning experience for students
In an effort to both expand its outreach to the public and to better prepare students for future success, UW-Madison’s Counseling Psychology Training Clinic is broadening the number of assessment services it is offering.
Parrish Paul, a clinical associate professor with the Department of Counseling Psychology, stresses that the clinic’s primary focus remains on psychotherapy services. But he notes that this desire to bolster assessment was a goal prior to his hiring in the summer of 2011 as the new director of the clinic, which provides confidential counseling, mental health and assessment services for individuals and families in the Madison area. As the name implies, the center is a training facility that’s staffed by licensed faculty members who supervise counseling psychology doctoral and master’s students.
Over the past year the Counseling Psychology Training Clinic has renewed its efforts to offer AD/HD testing and cognitive assessments for those with potential learning disorders, and also conducts psychodiagnostic assessment. The clinic also is starting to offer vocational assessment and career counseling to its menu of services, and soon will be adding evaluations that can identify talented and gifted students.
“I think counseling psychologists, along with other psychologists, are looking to get more training in assessment and we felt that maybe this was an area in which we could strengthen our overall program,” says Paul. “So when we make assessment a bigger part of our program, it adds another level of depth to our students’ preparation that makes them more competitive in terms of finding internships or jobs in the workplace.”
In order to keep costs low, Paul says his students hand score most of the tests, as opposed to using more efficient – but costly – computer or web-based assessment tools.
“That would be a dream to make things more computerized, but I think the students also learn quite a lot from hand-scoring the assessments,” says Paul.
Despite this push to broaden its assessment services, Paul says that the clinic’s psychotherapy services remain the focal point, with clinic staff being trained to help individuals, couples, families and groups with a range of issues; from anxiety, depression and anger management, to sexual orientation/identity, family counseling and much more.
Fourteen doctoral and six graduate students currently staff the training facility, with the center typically providing between 30 and 50 hours of psychotherapy and assessment services per week during the academic year. And although Paul is the only faculty member who is assigned to the clinic on a full-time basis, he notes that all faculty members within the Department of Counseling Psychology play a role in helping out with the training center.
In an effort to equip students with the skills and support needed to provide professional psychological services, the training model used within the clinic includes live supervision or observation of counseling sessions. These sessions also are recorded for training purposes, with those seeking services being made aware of all these facts before being helped.
And before students are allowed to see actual patients at the center, they first must complete a sequence of classroom learning and face-to-face preparation with volunteers who are not real clients.
“When they get to the clinic they are working to refine their basic skills and to put their theoretical and conceptual understandings to work,” says Paul, who notes that the students are provided feedback on how they are doing by both individual supervisors or from a group of peers who discuss what they’ve observed while watching each other in action.
“There are a lot of feedback loops that can really help the students,” says Paul.
When asked who gets more out of the Counseling Psychology Training Clinic – the patients who seek services or the students who learn from the experiences -- Paul says it’s a win-win for all
“The bottom line is we’re going to make sure the client gets quality, competent and ethical services,” he says. “There’s no doubt that our students learn a lot and a co-goal of the clinic is to train our students. But serving the clients is always the top priority.”
The Counseling Psychology Clinic is open Mondays, Wednesday and Thursdays from 3 to 7 p.m., and is located in room 312 of UW-Madison’s Educational Sciences Building, 1025 W. Johnson St. Assessments can sometimes be scheduled during different hours.
The clinic, in its efforts to keep services affordable for all, charges clients based on a sliding scale linked to one’s income.
Services are not available at the training center for emergency crisis intervention, due to the fact that the clinic is only open three days per week. The training clinic also doesn’t prescribe medication. Those in need of services unavailable through the clinic are referred to local professionals, agencies or hospitals that can help.
To make an appointment, or for more information, call 608-265-8779 or visit the clinic’s website.