Florida Gulf Coast University (FGCU) will open the Student and Community Counseling Center Nov. 1.
In addition to being the new home for Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) and Adaptive Services, the building houses a training center for counseling graduate students. The training center, known as the Community Counseling Center, is designed to fill a community need for greater access to mental and behavioral health services for individuals of all ages, regardless of socioeconomic status.
“This new training center has been a dream of the counseling department almost since we opened [FGCU],” said Madelyn Isaacs, chair of FGCU’s Department of Counseling. “We have our own clinic where we can do primary field-based training with community members and serve the community.”
Unlike other health professional programs, collegiate counseling programs do not have the ability to build simulation labs, Isaacs explained.
“The only thing we can do in counseling is either role-play with students, which is a good beginning in training, or we can bring in a real client. With the latter, our professors and supervisors can observe directly what our students are doing, provide care, manage the quality in their training and send them out to other sites or their other internships with a real secure knowledge that they know what they’re doing,” Isaacs said.
The Community Counseling Center will be operated by graduate-student interns, who provide a variety of supervised counseling services. Among the counseling services available to the community are individual, group, family, couples, relationship, school consultation and play therapy. The center aims to improve lives affected by depression, anxiety, trauma, relationship and family functioning, career and life transitions, school performance, and parenting challenges.
While the center will serve English-speaking clients, a strong focus is placed on the needs of Spanish-speaking individuals.
“Out of the 10 interns who will start on Nov. 4, three of them speak Spanish,” said Alise Bartley, director of the FGCU Community Counseling Center. “The assistant director also speaks Spanish. Not only will people be able to receive counseling services in Spanish, but the students will also be receiving the supervision in Spanish. We want to keep the language consistent.”
One thing Bartley and Isaacs emphasize is that this facility is a lab for counseling students. Students will learn in this new facility and take on counseling-focused research. It’s through this opportunity that the public will benefit.
“We’re a counseling center, not a medical center. We provide one aspect of behavioral health, but a medical center would have psychiatrists, nurse practitioners and medical staff on site. A facility like that may refer to outpatient counseling as a part of treatment, but they also have medical assessment and medication monitoring. [The Community Counseling Center] is our counseling lab, but we’re making it available to the community because we can at a very low cost,” Isaacs said.
Services of the Community Counseling Center are available by appointment to the public 1-8 p.m. Mondays and Thursdays and 9 a.m.-1 p.m. Saturdays. The fee is $25 an hour or whatever you make an hour – whichever is less. This sliding scale is used in order to make counseling affordable to all. Insurance is not accepted. To contact the Community Counseling Center, visit https://fgcu.edu/communitycounseling or call 239-745-4777.
Students can continue to count on CAPS
CAPS serves the mental health needs of FGCU students. It is fully accredited, and most services are covered for students who are enrolled in the current semester or those who have already paid health fees for the current academic term. With CAPS’ move to the new building, students will continue to receive the level of care they have come to expect.
According to CAPS Director Jon Brunner, the biggest difference with the move is increased space to offer services for students. Two more group rooms will be available, up from one in the previous location, to accommodate increasing group therapy needs. The new space also gives CAPS the ability to expand its staff in the future. Three new CAPS team members joined FGCU in 2019.
To contact CAPS, visit https://fgcu.edu/CAPS or call 239-590-7950. FGCU students in immediate distress outside of normal business hours (evenings, weekends and holidays) who would like to speak with a mental health professional can call the CAPS help line at 239-745-EARS (3277).