University Relations and Marketing

Contacts:
Dan Carter, University Relations, 657-2269

June 6, 2009

MSU Billings marks 40 years of Master's Rehab and Mental Health Counseling program

Visitors welcome to check out counseling clinic at June 18 event

MSU BILLINGS NEWS SERVICES — Montana State University Billings and the College of Allied Health Professions are celebrating another milestone in June: the 40th anniversary of the Master’s of Rehabilitation and Mental Health Counseling program.

An open house at the program’s community counseling clinic will be a part of the celebration on Thursday, June 18 from 5-7 p.m.  in the College of Education building at MSU Billings, 1500 University Drive. The event is free and open to the public.  Refreshments will be available and RSVPs are encouraged to Julie Seedhouse by Friday, June 12 at 247-5780.

The master’s degree program has been one of the most successful at Eastern Montana College and MSU Billings, keeping students at the forefront of rehabilitation and mental health counseling issues.

One of the most recent successes is the establishment of the MSU Billings Counseling Clinic. The clinic opened in November 2007 and provides free, short-term problem-solving counseling services to Billings residents who otherwise could not access services. The appointment-only clinic operates out of the ground level of the College of Education building at the MSU Billings senior campus and services are provided by advanced-level graduate students.

Because it is a teaching clinic, the one-on-one sessions are observed through a one-way mirror and videotaped for supervision purposes, said Dr. Terry Blackwell, the College of Allied Health Professions professor who oversees the clinic. Full confidentiality is protected, he said.

Blackwell and fellow professor Dr. Kyle Colling have worked with health care providers in the Billings area to build referral relationships for the new counseling clinic. They emphasized that MSU Billings students at the clinic are not competing with currently established mental health professionals in the area. Instead, they will fill the gaps for people who don’t have insurance coverage or don’t qualify for Medicaid.

Blackwell operated a similar teaching clinic when he worked for Louisiana State University. When he came to MSU Billings in 2006, he brought the model with him. It’s a one-to-one experience between a client and a graduate student one hour per week for a limited time.

The refurbished office space in the lower level of the College of Education includes some furniture recycled from other offices on campus as well as several quilts made by Dr. Cindy Dell, an assistant professor of education at the university.  There is a warm, quiet feel to the clinic and located out of the way of the day-in and day-out tumult of the building.

Those interested in using the clinic are provided by a telephone screening by Blackwell to determine what resources and services might be the most beneficial. Services are provided by appointment only and are limited to services appropriate for the students. Those include:

  • Vocational issues, such as career transition decisions, career development or career clarification.
  • Personal issues, such as adjustment to disability, socialization or values clarification
  • Wellness issues of health maintenance, such as stress management or maximizing participation in allied health therapies.

Blackwell emphasized that the clinic will help serve an underserved population of the Billings area who either cannot afford to pay for counseling services (those working minimum wage jobs and with limited insurance coverage, for example) or do not qualify for other government-supported programs. He has reached out to licensed counselors in the area to keep lines of communication open.

For more information on the MSU Billings Counseling Clinic call 896-5842.

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