Counseling the Community

SHSU is becoming a leading counseling resource for the underserved in East Texas 

Mental health is important to all, no matter your financial status or location. However, individuals and families in smaller and underserved communities often struggle to find funds or facilities readily available to them.

CounselingEd14Through the College of Education, Sam Houston State University operates the Jack Staggs Counseling Clinic in Huntsville and the Community Counseling Clinic in The Woodlands. Clinics offer a range of services to both students and the public, from play therapy for children, to couples counseling, family therapy and beyond.

The clinic serves as a training facility for master’s-level and doctoral students in the SHSU Counselor Education program, while also providing help to the underserved areas of East Texas. Alarmingly, Texas ranks in the bottom five of the nation for mental health spending per capita, and 185 of the 254 counties in Texas have no psychiatrist at all. Sinem Akay-Sullivan, director of Clinics in the Department of Counselor Education, wants SHSU to change those statistics. 

“We do not have a lot of counselors who are able to see clients in our rural area,” Akay-Sullivan said. “We never want people to have to worry about long wait lists, and in rural communities it is tough to even refer clients, due to our lack of counselors in the region.” 

To address the local need, the Counseling Center offers services on a sliding price scale ranging from $2 to $25, but they will never turn someone away for financial reasons.

“Our goal is to be an affordable resource and to expand our reach to the campus and community.  We want students and others in Huntsville to know if they find a wait list other places, they can come here and be seen.” 

— Sinem Akay-Sullivan

CounselingEd03The clinic is open 20 hours a week at the Huntsville campus. A big goal for Akay-Sullivan is to expand their capabilities through grants or gifts in order to allow more research and better service to the community.

“We are always working to improve,” Akay-Sullivan said. “Getting more resources for research assistants, graduate assistants, and others who can help with the work we do would be a huge boost. We want to be open longer, see more clients and provide even more of a benefit to the community.”

To schedule an appointment, call 936.294.1121.  All Clinic voicemails are confidential.

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