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March 21, 2013 — A recent major renovation to the University of Wyoming College of Education’s Counselor Education Training Clinic offers a safe and welcoming new space, both for the future counselors and counselor supervisors training there -- and for the clients they serve.
Located in the northeast corner of the Education Building basement, the expanded facility includes a client reception area, two group counseling rooms, two play therapy rooms, six individual/couple counseling rooms, and counselor work and observation rooms.
The expansion allows greater scheduling flexibility and room for consultation, says Michael Morgan, counselor education faculty member and clinic director. He says approximately 30 graduate student counselors and six to eight doctoral student supervisors, who serve 200-250 clients annually, will benefit from the expansion.
The clinic is the cornerstone of UW’s counselor education graduate programs, Morgan says. Many other programs without an onsite clinic must rely on simulated experiences alone (e.g., role playing) to teach fundamental counseling skills. Students then transition directly to field placement, where they likely will meet one hour a week with supervisors to review their work.
UW students have opportunities for early, direct contact with actual clients in the clinic. All of their work is observed live by supervisors and securely recorded for additional supervision. This intensity of observation and supervision adds a layer of depth to their training that is unmatched in other settings.
One of the most noticeable changes to the renovated space is its increased security and privacy. Where a common hallway once ran through the middle of the clinic space, there are now two distinct entrances that separate clinic clients and staff from the public. This expands the clinic’s ongoing commitment to providing safe and confidential service.
After clients enter the clinic doors, they are greeted by staff, who will escort them to the spacious new waiting room and, eventually, one of the airy, comfortable session rooms where they will meet with a student counselor.
The clinic’s play therapy space grew significantly during the renovation. Two large rooms are now devoted to providing play therapy sessions. An observation area, located between the two play therapy rooms, is large enough to handle classes and larger groups of observers. Morgan says the expanded capacity in this area is critical to the success of UW’s Rocky Mountain Center of Play Therapy Studies and its affiliated programs.
From an instructional standpoint, the clinic’s video recording and storage system may be the most significant change, Morgan says. Each room is equipped with web-connected cameras that allow for on-the-spot movement to follow activity, and a zoom function to capture detail during counseling sessions. Recordings are captured on a secure server and are accessible only by the center staff, and only in the center.
Doctoral student clinic supervisors and counselor education faculty members can monitor multiple sessions at once and shift views from room to room instantaneously. They also can mark recordings for review later, in consultations with students, or live, while counseling sessions take place. This allows clinic staff members to provide student counselors with feedback when it is most needed.
Whether they are master’s level counselors in training or doctoral students learning to supervise others, learning for students working in the clinic is deepened and enhanced by having access to detailed feedback that is supported by video.
While the clinic is free and open to anyone in the greater Laramie community, most of the clients served are from UW and the UW Lab School. Examples of the types of concerns clients seek help for include those related to depression, anxiety, substance abuse, children’s emotional and behavioral issues, adjustment to college life, and couples and family counseling.
Assistant Professor Kara Carnes-Holt interacts with children in one of the Counselor Education Training Clinic’s large play therapy rooms. (UW Photo)