Washburn adolescent clinic opens doors

Whitney Clum

The Washburn Psychological Association opened its doors this year with the new addition of a full-time adolescent clinic.

The program will allow graduate students of Washburn’s psychology program to treat children of the community ages 2 through 17 for issues revolving around depression and anxiety. The grant given to start the adolescent clinic was originally granted in 2015.

However, this year’s clinic director, Tessa Graf, third year student in the program, wants people to know about the positive additions to the program and the benefits offered.

“The clinic previously did not see people under the age of 18,” Graf said. “Now we have expanded. We have hired Dr. [Christina] Ménager to supervise the clinic. It’s a training clinic, so a lot of people get it confused with counseling services. We get to offer low-cost services to the community, not just Washburn students.”

Unlike last year, when the professors and students involved could only work when not otherwise occupied, Ménager was hired this year with the clinic in mind. The clinic is her full time job, enabling more people to have access to treatment.

She also brings lots of experience with children to the table, something the other clinical psychologists involved in the clinic have less experience with.

The ability to treat adolescents will benefit Washburn and the surrounding area by opening up sessions and assessments to include the entire family, not just members over the age of 18.

According to Graf, the need for cheap mental health services felt by the community could be filled if the clinic were taken full advantage of.

“In my experience, there is a really high need for affordable services for children,” Graf said. “We typically offer therapy for $10 a session or less depending on financial need and then for assessments, around $100-200 dollars for more thorough assessments… which, if you went to a private practice could cost you anywhere from $1000 to $2000.”

The clinic itself provides services to the public and to the graduate students working there, providing hands-on experience before their internship begins. Working at the clinic is a part of the psychology program, not unlike how some science classes have intertwined lecture and lab aspects.

“The way our class is set up is that this semester we have assessment and next semester we will have therapy,” Ménager said. “I teach students how to conduct evidence based assessments and therapies with children. We actually have some videotapes, sometimes live supervision. We have two way mirrors, which is cool, in our clinic, and we are able to offer the students feedback and really help them learn.”

The bulk of the students working in the program are second year students and since this year’s class has an unusually high number of second year students, 13, the capacity for individuals that can be treated is high. Even so, there are no current plans to expand the services beyond what is currently offered for anxiety and depression.

“Dr. [Cindy] Turk is very well known for her research in the areas of social anxiety and generalized anxiety disorder and Dr. [Dave] Provorse has a lot of experience working with people with depression and other interpersonal issues,”  said Graf. “Even though it might seem like we are limited focusing only on those, they are the most persistent, especially at the college level. Competency [what a doctor specializes in] is really important. We want to make sure we are providing the best, most supported treatments.”

Ménager was also quick to note that in addition to being one of the most common things they see, the terms depression and anxiety cover a vast number of issues.

“I would say the vast majority of what we are going to see are going to be in two camps,” Ménager said. “[First,] internalizing issues like anxiety. For example, children with separation anxiety, phobias [and] children with OCD, children with trauma. The other camp is children with what we call externalizing issues, so issues like ADD, issues like blended families or losses in the family that cause behavioral issues in children.”

Treatments at the clinic vary depending on the situation. Some people may choose to come once every few weeks or multiple times a week if the situation is severe.

Cases that call for enormous amounts of manpower to cope with are referred to clinics better suited for that specific case. People who need medication can be sent to a doctor with a recommendation based on the situation.

As a non-profit organization, all the money that is made from sessions goes right back into the program to help pay for newer materials to ensure that all of the treatments are based on the most up-to-date studies. The more people that come in, the better the community is served.

To find out more about these services you can call the Washburn Psychological Services clinic at 785-670-1750.