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New community counseling center opens this fall

Grad students will offer affordable treatment to the public

When the fall semester begins in August, Florida Gulf Coast University will open the doors to a much-needed community service – low-cost mental and behavioral healthcare.

The Community Counseling Center will offer these services provided by graduate student interns under the supervision of faculty of the Department of Counseling in the Marieb College of Health & Human Services. The center’s services will include family and marriage counseling, play therapy and other forms of counseling for those who may not have insurance or the means to pay for private treatment.

Alise Bartley
Alise Bartley

Care will be provided by graduate students who have taken the majority of their courses before they begin seeing clients under supervision. “They will be serving the needs of the community,” says Madelyn Isaacs, a counseling professor and chair of the Department of Counseling Fees will be whatever the individual earns an hour or $25, whichever is less. The idea is to offer additional resources to the community and to provide future counselors with a place in which they can gain on-the-job experience.

“Our hope is that this will become a place for outreach to the community, for training students and developing who we are and the services we provide,” says Alise Bartley, visiting assistant professor. “It’s going to be our training lab and we hope we will be reaching all five counties even though we are physically located at FGCU.”

The center will be located in the new 27,000-square-foot building under construction next to the Family Resource Center on campus. The structure will also house the counseling center for students, known as CAPS, as well as Adaptive Services.

While anyone from the community is welcome to avail themselves of services here, there will be an as-yet undetermined limit to the number of times an individual may visit before being referred to another area agency. And because it will be students who will be providing the counseling, there will be no acute-care provided. Those requiring crisis intervention and medical care will be referred to the appropriate agency.

Isaacs says the staff plans to work closely with area agencies such as SalusCare, Golisano Children’s Hospital, Park Royal Hospital, Charlotte Behavioral Health, the David Lawrence Center and Hendry Glades Behavioral Health Center, among others.

“It’s not going to be a standalone center to compete with area agencies,” Isaacs says. “We seek to fit in with area agencies.”

Rendering of Counseling BuildingShe hopes that the center will help broaden the counseling department’s offerings. “I hope it eventually is going to become a seat of research and an engine to expand the curriculum, both degree and non-degree, for post-masters and post-doc training for people who are already practitioners in the community,” Isaacs says.

In addition to family and marriage counseling, Isaacs says, “we’ve talked about trying to develop a niche potentially in working with people on the autism spectrum, those who have experienced trauma and perhaps working toward a doctoral program, expanding the program to accept more students and developing a series of post-master fellowships for students who need additional training.”