Dr. Nina Ellis-Hervey, director of the School Psychology Assessment Center at Stephen F. Austin State University, oversees Devin Bridges, graduate assistant and office manager for the assessment center, as he reviews the day's schedule of clients. SFA's School Psychology Assessment Center is open to SFA students and residents in the surrounding communities.

NACOGDOCHES, Texas - It all began with an idea - a vision to create a space for Stephen F. Austin State University school psychology students and campus volunteers to gain hands-on, real-world experience in a supervised learning environment.

Two and a half years ago, Dr. Nina Ellis-Hervey, then assistant professor of assessment for doctoral and master's students in SFA's school psychology program, envisioned an assessment center for psychology students.

"I felt like the program was missing assessment experience opportunities for students," Ellis-Hervey said. "I realized assessment was key, and sometimes you want to feel comfortable with the process before you walk into it as a career."

After recruiting students to help and going through the procedures to create the facility, Ellis-Hervey's vision became a reality, and the SFA School Psychology Assessment Center opened on the second floor of the Human Services Building on the university campus.

"Since this center is so new, the students know they are pioneers," Ellis-Hervey said. "I didn't do this alone, and I never take full credit for the center. If it were not for the students, the center would not be standing."

Ellis-Hervey now serves as director of the School Psychology Assessment Center and said she is proud of the center's success.

"The center has really grown. I went from telling people we had a center and having our first two clients to now having a waiting list of more than 20 clients," Ellis-Hervey said. "I know there is a need, which is great because students are not only getting training experiences, but they also are seeing diverse people of different walks of life, backgrounds and cultures."

The center is a clinical and research resource for SFA students. It also is a graduate training center within the Department of Human Services and the school psychology program. The center's mission is to provide affordable, quality mental health assessment and care to people on campus and in the community.

"I'm very thankful to the SFA, Nacogdoches and Lufkin communities for the support," Ellis-Hervey said. "We've had people come to the center from all over. I'm happy people feel comfortable leaving a piece of their lives in our hands and expecting and working with us to find answers."

The center provides psychological assessment services for the measurement of disorders that affect psychological, emotional, academic and occupational functioning. Disorders include attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, learning disabilities, depression and anxiety, neurocognitive disorders such as nonverbal learning disabilities, psychosis and thought disorders, personality disorder, and autism spectrum disorders.

Graduate students in the school psychology program administer the tests to clients. Ellis-Hervey, who supervises the students, is a trained and licensed psychologist and is a licensed specialist in school psychology.

"The center prepares students to be ready for the world of work. I live by the principle of real-world experience," Ellis-Hervey said. "I feel this center offers students the chance to see clients and understand the assessment process and become not only better school psychologists, but better licensed psychologists. I want to ensure our students have the training they need to be able to adapt in the places they choose to work."

To schedule an appointment or for more information, contact the center at (936) 468-1306.