Pathways to Change

WWU offers free counseling to community

By: Becky St. Clair

Since October 1999, the WWU School of Education & Psychology has included a community counseling center.  The center offers free counseling for individuals, couples, and even families.  It is staffed by second-year psychology graduate students, supervised by Lee Stough, a WWU faculty member and licensed psychologist.

The center, called Pathways to Change, has dealt over the years with a variety of topics: Anger, couple issues, parent/child issues, self-mutilation, grief, and loss, to name a few.   Over the past nine years, Pathways to Change has seen over 350 clients, and has given over 40 graduate students practical experience in counseling.

Pathways to Change is managed by first-year graduate student Lori Hollenbeck, who also works as an assistant to Stough.

The center consists of four counseling rooms.  Each is equipped with video cameras and one-way mirrors.  All sessions are recorded and reviewed by the student counselor and his or her supervisor.  

“Part of learning is to think back and review,” says Stough.  “Together, the student and I can see exactly what happened in any given session and we can talk about it.  It is a very important part of the training we do here.”

Conducting counseling sessions is required of psychology graduate students.  It is a national standard for students to have hands-on experience prior to receiving their degrees.  Having a center on campus where they can fulfill that requirement is an advantage to students at WWU.  Stough says proudly that WWU “meets or exceeds” national program standards in counseling psychology.

“The clinical experience gets students’ feet wet and their hands dirty,” says Stough.  “I tell them, ‘learn how to do this first, and then go show ‘em how it’s done at your internship!’”

Each student counselor at Pathways to Change carries a case load of three to four clients.  When assigning clients to students, Stough does his best to match the issues at hand with the student’s interests.  

Before each session, clients are given an informal questionnaire about how they are feeling.  This information is then used to track client progress across therapy and to guide the supervision process so that the most effective treatments can be implemented.

“Tracking student progress is crucial to the learning process,” says Stough.  “If the client wasn’t improving, why not?  What was the student doing well?  All of this needs to be recorded and reviewed.”

For more information on Pathways to Change, or to schedule a meeting with a student counselor, call 509-527-2654.

WWU students, staff, and faculty desiring counseling should contact WWU Counseling and Testing Services at 509-527-2147.

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