NACOGDOCHES, Texas - Nathaniel Briggs always knew he wanted to help people; he just didn't know how to achieve his goal. When Briggs first entered college, he was a music education major; however, Briggs, now a Stephen F. Austin State University graduate student in the counseling program, soon realized he "loved people more than music" and changed his major.
Intrigued by the way people think, Briggs of Saginaw, Texas, serves as a counselor-in-training in SFA's Counseling Clinic, which is provided by the university's Department of Human Services' counselor education program.
The program offers three degree tracks: clinical mental health counseling, school counseling and rehabilitation counseling. Briggs, like many other SFA students in the program, has the opportunity to put his education into real-world practice by working in the clinic.
"The clinic provides myriad opportunities," Briggs said. "We help people from all walks of life, therefore, we receive a broader experience by working with different clients whether they are children, adults or couples."
The clinic is open from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Thursday and is located in the Human Services Building, Room 201, on the SFA campus. In addition to individual, couples, family and group counseling, the clinic offers consultations, assessments, screenings and referrals to SFA students and local community residents.
Amanda Pruit, director of the Counseling Clinic and a licensed professional counselor, explained the clinic is an educational tool.
"The clinic and amazing faculty members are the jewels in this program," Pruit said. "It's an outstanding training tool. It is a tremendous advantage for our students to be able to take what they are learning in the classroom and apply it to real-world settings."
Students who are in the internship and practicum portion of the 60-hour counselor education program utilize the Counseling Clinic for hands-on learning, and Pruit is available to assist the students as the on-site director.
"I think our graduate students leave with a much broader skill set than programs that don't offer on-site training," Pruit said. "SFA provides many resources to support our students, including the opportunity to observe and create their professional identity."
Because it is a training clinic, sessions are recorded with the client's consent, and the recordings are used as training videos. Also, every student in the program is required to obtain observation hours. Ideally, Pruit said students can watch the counselors-in-training through observation bays attached to each room in the clinic, but the recordings offer another option for students to observe.
"There aren't really any limitations to whom we can serve," Pruit said. "It's really nice because the graduate students are trained in a variety of skills so they are able to serve any issue."
The clinic runs like an off-site facility with graduate assistants managing the office alongside interns and the practicum students providing the counseling services. Graduate assistant Brittani Woodstock oversees the clients' files, payments and confidentiality.
Counseling services costs are determined by a variable fee scale based on net family income and family size, typically ranging from $5 to $20 per visit. To schedule an appointment or for more information, contact the clinic at (936) 468-1041.