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Clinic Provides $5 Counseling Sessions

Since 1969, the Center City Counseling Clinic at Missouri State University has been providing low-cost counseling to the public. For a session, the clinic asks the patient to pay a fee of only five dollars. KSMU’s Matt Evans has more.

The elevator in the Great Southern building on South Avenue takes patients up one floor to the clinic.

Deb, who didn’t want to give her last name, has been going to the Center City Counseling Clinic for a little over a year. Deb and her four daughters, ages 8, 13, 16, and 17, have had an emotional ride since Deb filed for divorce from her husband in July of 2008. She said she should have filed for divorce long before that, but wanted to stay with her husband for her kids’ sake.

“I was depressed. I got to a point where I was like I’m stuck here, I’m stuck here forever. My whole world was my girls.”

Deb is confident that the counseling has helped her and her daughters through the difficult time.

A unique thing about the counseling at the Center City Clinic is the price. The clinic charges $5 for one counseling session, compared to the average cost of $150 per session at other local clinics.

“I have four children. That is a lot of money and no we wouldn’t be in counseling if it wasn’t for Center City.”

The reason the clinic can provide counseling at such a low cost is because the counselors are actually students at Missouri State University working on their Masters Degrees in Counseling. Robin E. Farris is the director of the clinic.

“Some people can’t afford even $5. That’s fine. They can pay four or three or two or one. We ask for something because it’s an investment in their own healing process and own counseling process.”

Fully licensed faculty members watch the students in their sessions through a video camera that feeds into a different room. The sessions are usually recorded so the faculty members can provide feedback.

“We’ve talked to a lot of counselor educators across the state and we are, to our knowledge, the only one that operates in this particular way.”

That’s Dr. Leslie Anderson, the coordinator for the Center City Counseling Clinic. She says it’s important for the students to have hands-on training in their education.

Another service that the clinic offers is play therapy for children. Deb’s youngest daughter, Hadley, has been participating in play therapy since last September.

“Well a year ago before I started the counseling I was kind of needing someone to talk to or do something. Then one day my mom said we were going to start counseling and I got excited”

Play therapy is a counseling session in which the child simply plays with toys in a room with a counselor.

“The playing takes my mind off of it.”

In the play therapy rooms, toys overflow from colorful bins and the child is allowed to play with anything he or she wants to. Hadley, who will turn nine soon, likes playing with the baby doll because she has always wanted to be a mother.

Dr. Anderson elaborates on play therapy.

“Children’s language is play and toys are their words and in a way in only brings therapy to their level of communication rather than asking a child to come to the adult’s level of communication.”

Deb and her four daughters currently reside in Ozark and plan on continuing their counseling at the Springfield clinic.

For KSMU News, I’m Matt Evans.