CEDAR Clinic provides services to clients, training for Penn State students

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — For nearly 70 years, the College of Education’s CEDAR Clinic has served two important purposes at Penn State. The clinic functions both as a facility that provides services to clients and as a supervised training center for graduate students in the counselor education and school psychology programs.

The CEDAR Clinic offers services in two specialty areas: counseling and school psychology.

The counseling services offered are vocational, personal and educational for either individuals or groups. Primarily, clients are Penn State students enrolled at the University Park campus. However, clinic staff members do work with the occasional nonstudent.

Elizabeth Mellin, associate professor of counselor education and licensed professional counselor, is the coordinator of counseling services for the CEDAR Clinic. She said there are a number of reasons why Penn State students visit the clinic.

“Common reasons for beginning counseling can range from relationship difficulties with roommates or boyfriends/girlfriends to anxiety and depression,” said Mellin. “We also typically work with students who are experiencing stress related to transitioning from college to their professional careers.”

The other specialty area for the CEDAR Clinic is school psychology. The clinic offers complete psychoeducational assessments and related services to children, adolescents and young adults from the community.

Shirley Woika, associate professor of school psychology, licensed psychologist and nationally certified school psychologist, is the coordinator of school psychology services for the CEDAR Clinic.

“The most common referral for school psychological services nationwide is related to reading difficulties for males in the primary grades,” said Woika. “Other common referral questions include evaluations for gifted identification, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), early entrance to kindergarten assessments and a variety of other school-based academic, social-emotional and behavioral problems.”

The clinic has also earned a good reputation in the community with respect to autism-specific assessments, according to Woika.

“Based on feedback from our alumni practicing in schools, the school psychology program added an emphasis on autism a few years ago,” said Woika. “Several social service agencies and local physicians have referred clients to us. Some surrounding school districts now contract with the clinic to conduct autism-specific assessments when the need arises.”

In addition to providing services to clients, the CEDAR Clinic offers an important training opportunity for graduate students. The value that the clinic adds to our training program cannot be overemphasized, according to Woika.

“We are so very fortunate to be able to offer this type of practical training to our graduate students,” said Woika. “The intense supervision that accompanies the practical training in the clinic allows our graduate students to identify their own strengths and weaknesses and focus their efforts on targeted areas.”

Training has also been augmented by the recent renovations of the CEDAR Clinic, which created upgraded instructional space for graduate students with observation rooms and high-quality digital recording capacity.

Looking forward, both coordinators indicated that they would like to expand the services provided at the clinic, including assessments for children who are not native English speakers and the availability of counseling services expanded to include more of the local community.

“Given the wide variety of counseling interests among the graduate students that we train and the significant mental health needs in our local community, it would be ideal if the clinic counseling services could be offered (as school psychology services currently are) to children, adolescents and adults from our local community,” said Mellin. “In addition, I would like to increase the focus on interdisciplinary training provided by the clinic — opportunities for students from counseling, education, psychology and nursing, for example — to offer a rich and productive training experience for students across colleges at Penn State.”

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Last Updated September 25, 2013