By Katherine Parker
The Norman Transcript
NORMAN — Work, parenting, relationships, stress, depression, anxiety — all of these everyday life challenges can be overwhelming. The University of Oklahoma Counseling Psychology Clinic provides low-cost counseling and assessment services to all Oklahomans to help with such challenges. For more than 40 years, the clinic has been serving OU and Norman communities, but recently the clinic added an advocacy component that encourages service work within the community by working with local nonprofits to expand its services.
Besides offering traditional pro bono services, the clinic now works with Sooner Upward Bound, Women’s Resource Center, Full Circle Life Enrichment Center and Cimarron Alliance as well as offer professional talks through its Speaker’s Bureau program.
“It’s a great opportunity for our students because the psychology profession works with all types of people and this gives them that opportunity and forces them to set aside any bias they may have,” said Dr. Lisa Frey, clinic director.
The Counseling Psychology clinic, which is the training clinic for OU’s Counseling Psychology doctoral program, provides services to individuals, couples, families and children. Counseling services are offered on a sliding fee scale, based on family income and the number of dependents.
Anyone currently living in Oklahoma can seek services at the clinic. Affiliation with OU is not necessary to receive services.
The clinic is at 3200 Marshall Ave. and operates 12:30 to 8:30 p.m. Monday tto Thursday, and 9 a.m., to noon on Saturday.
The clinic is staffed by graduate student counselors working toward doctoral degrees in counseling psychology. The counselors are supervised by three OU faculty members who are mental health professionals.
Frey said during 2013 the clinic performed about 2,000 sessions to assist Oklahomans but that in the past the clinic has performed up to 4,000 sessions. Currently, there are about 15 student counselors. All of the counselors have clinical experience and are not “newbies,” Frey said.
In 2011, Frey said she started the clinic’s pro bono program because the economy was still struggling and many clients couldn’t pay for services. Last year, the clinic provided about 150 hours, or $4,000 to $7,000, worth of care, Frey explained. The pro bono program led Frey to look at other ways the clinic might help the community, and the clinic now works with a number of non-profits.
Warren Queton, Sooner Upward Bound academic coordinator, said the collaboration with the OU Counseling Clinic was a win-win situation.
“We work with high school students from Oklahoma City public schools who may have social problems in the household. We help students transition from high school to college and make the best choice in preparation for college,” Queton said. “These students need someone who they can talk to about problems at home or in school. The Counseling Clinic helps students problem solve so they can keep their emotions in check and not let emotions get the best of them.”
Frey said the clinic offers group sessions to Sonner Upward Bound participants during the summer when they come to OU campus and discuss topics focusing on family, community, and setting goals and problem solving. Additionally, the clinic hopes to research and collect data for the program to determine which Sooner Upward Bound programs are most successful. Queton said research performed by the clinic should begin in 2014-15 and would help to justify Sooner Upward Bound programs when applying for grants.
OU Counseling Psychology Clinic also works with the Women’s Resource Center to provide groups with staff. The Women’s Resource Center help persons victimized by domestic and sexual violence.
Frey said individual counseling sessions for Women’s Resource Center clients were still in development. At Full Circle Life Enrichment Center, counselors work with senior ciitzens’ counseling needs by visiting the center at various times. But in about two weeks, the clinic plans to have a few students on site to perform services as needed, Frey explained.
“People don’t think of Norman as having the needs that they do,” Frey said. “But the needs always surpass the available resources.”
Another organization the clinic has just started to work with is Cimarron Alliance, an organization in support of LGBT equality. The clinic provides groups for those grieving a the loss of someone as well as groups for LGBT families. Additionally, since the summer of 2013, counselors from the clinic have given free talks through the new Spreaker’s Bureau about various topics. The clinic has provided this service at the Women’s Resource Center, OKC campus of Oklahoma State University, and Noble Public Schools. Topics have ranged from basic interview skills to listening and communicating.
“The most important part of our work with these nonprofits is that we don’t have an agenda. Our goal is to do what they need us to do,” Frey said. “We can wear all these different hats —researchers, counselors, speakers — we are there to help based on the organization’s needs.”
To schedule an appointment with the Clinic, call 325-2914. For more information about the OU Counseling Psychology Clinic or its work with nonprofits, visit ou.edu/education/centers-and-partnerships/counseling-psychology-clinic. For more information about any of the organizations mentioned in this article, visit: ou.edu/content/studentlife/leaders_and_scholars/sub.html; wrcnorman.com; fullcircleok.org; or equalityokc.org.
Breaking news, severe weather alerts, AMBER alerts, sports scores from The Norman Transcript are available as text messages right to your phone or mobile device. You decide which type of alerts you want to receive. Find out more or to signup, click here.