In its fifth year of operation, Sam Houston State University’s Jack S. Staggs Counseling Clinic, a training clinic for doctoral and master’s students, has had a positive impact on the community in providing free counseling for adults and children as young as three, and will be open this summer.
An average of 25 individuals per semester are counseled at the clinic free of charge.
“In a nutshell, 225 people are seen for a total of 2,250 direct hours per semester,” department of educational leadership associate professor Van Wiesner said. “If you conservatively assume the clients would have to pay $50 per session, the Dr. Jack S. Staggs Counseling Clinic saves the community $112,500 each year.
“In addition, most of the 225 people would not be able to pay $50 per session, so they would likely receive no counseling. Imagine the harm if most of these individuals, families, and couples could not attend counseling. The cost in lost wages, taxes for the city and county, divorces, incarceration, suicides, and homicides would be hard to put a dollar figure on.”
The clinic began as a CNE 676 course in the department of educational leadership and counseling master’s program, evolving from a practicum clinic in the basement of the Teacher’s Education Center in 1991, to occupying half of the Counseling Education Center today, according to educational leadership and counseling professor Rick Bruhn.
Anyone is free to receive counseling. The only necessity for the client is self-motivation to continue therapy for an extended period of time.
It is open Monday through Thursday evenings and Saturday mornings, providing family, marriage and individual counseling by students in the graduate program, supervised by counseling program faculty of the department.
The counselors-in-training must adhere to 30 hours of face to face counseling with clients; receive feedback from a doctoral student; and in order to fulfill the qualifications of the program.
The nine rooms occupied by the clinic are equipped with cameras, “bug-in-the-ear” one-way radios, and one-way mirrors to assure safe client contact supervision. The rooms include a large family therapy room, a group counseling room, and individual encouragement rooms, to meet the needs of all patients.
The clinic’s services also provide play therapy, allowing children to express their experiences and feelings through interacting with toys.
“Children can’t always put thought into words,” Bruhn said. “In therapy, they play with dollhouses, blocks, and other toys to work through their emotions and stress.”
Also offered is sand tray therapy, a form of play therapy for adults. Using a tub of sand and a cabinet full of different characters, characters are used to express the feelings and emotions of the patient in the sand. Some of the figures are heroes, saints, trees, and villains.
“The client picks out items and places them in the sand to express emotion in a metaphoric way,” said Bruhn.
The clinic also allows The Children’s Safe Harbor of the Woodlands to use the facilities to observe sexual and physical abuse interviews on children where law enforcement officials view alleged victims speaking.
“This protects the child and prevents retraumatization as the child does not have to go to the police station to testify,” said Wiesner.
The clinic was named after Jack Staggs, a SHSU professor emeritus who is considered to be one of the founders of counseling in the state of Texas.
He came to SHSU in 1960 and served as director of the department of education for 13 years, during which time he increased faculty members from 11 to 40, according to associate professor of counseling Daniel Eckstein.
Staggs retired in 1986, but continued to teach part time until 1993, at which time he was named by The Texas State University Board of Regents as “Professor Emeritus of Education.”
Because of these contributions to the counseling program, in 2004 Staggs was honored as the namesake of the Dr. Jack S. Staggs Counseling Clinic.
For more information about the Jack S. Staggs Counseling Clinic or to set up an appointment, contact the clinic at 936.294.1121.
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