The Gerald and Audrey Olson Marriage and Family Therapy Clinic at Mount Mercy University opened to clients last week. The clinic offers low-cost mental health counseling services to the public, while providing hands-on, supervised training for graduate students in Mount Mercy’s marriage and family therapy (MFT) program. Mount Mercy offers the only program in Iowa that is training entry level MFT practitioners, and this clinic is the only Iowa MFT clinic that is fully staffed by student therapists who are under the supervision of licensed MFT therapists.
“Our clinic provides an excellent opportunity for faculty to help students formulate cases, plan interventions, and evaluate whether things are successful through the same perspective that their coursework is being approached from,” says Dr. Jacob Christenson, clinical director for the Marriage and Family Therapy Program.
In order to earn their Master of Arts degree in marriage and family therapy, students are required to complete at least 300 client contact hours. Since the program began in 2010, students have completed this requirement by working at social service agencies, churches, private family therapy practices and medication/consultation companies. While students received quality training in these settings, many were supervised by clinicians who were trained in an individually-focused perspective, rather than the newer systems perspective, which focuses on addressing clients’ concerns in relation to their relationships with others.
“The curriculum at Mount Mercy trains student therapists to look at all components of a relationship, and now the clinic provides an opportunity for students to practice those skills,” says Dr. Randy Lyle, director of the Marriage and Family Therapy Graduate Program. “If a child is having behavioral problems, it may be that the child has a specific problem, or it may be that the child is acting out because, if he acts out, Mom and Dad stop fighting with each other and pay attention to him.”
The clinic is located at Mount Mercy University’s CRST International Graduate Center, 1599 Wenig Road NE. Individuals seeking counseling services can schedule appointments in person, online or by phone. Clinic fees will be charged on a sliding scale, ranging from $30 to $10 per session. Insurance is not accepted. For more information about the Olson Marriage and Family Therapy Clinic, visit https://www.mtmercy.edu/Olson-Clinic.