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Educational Psychology Clinic Celebrates 40th Anniversary

Published: May 15, 2009

CSULB’s Educational Psychology Clinic marks its 40th anniversary on campus on Monday, June 1, from 3-6 p.m. in the Karl Anatol Center.

“We’re celebrating the clinic’s 40 years of service to the community,” said clinic director Kristin Powers, who joined the Department of Educational Psychology, Administration and Counseling in 2000. “It has been our mission to offer professional preparation for tomorrow’s school psychologists, counselors, therapists and educators who will service the community in a multitude of ways.”

For 40 years, comprehensive educational and psychological services have been provided at the clinic to community children at moderate costs (children of CSULB students accepted by the center pay a reduced fee). With the help of individualized attention from graduate students overseen by College of Education (COE) faculty, the clinic offers academic tutoring, counseling and psycho-educational assessment to between 80 and 90 community members annually in its offices in Education Building 2.

“There always are more children than the center can accommodate,” said Powers. “Therefore, we accept those children with the gravest problems.”

The clinic has 22 rooms with one-way mirrors and listening devices that allow faculty to observe graduate students while they work with clients. Thus, graduate students are provided direct supervision as they develop their clinical skills. Clinic student assistants recruit and process the clients, manage the records, order materials and check out resources to College of Education students. The clinic’s inventory includes more than 100 cognitive, academic, social-emotional and perceptual assessments and more than 30 social-emotional programs. It is open from 1-7 p.m. four nights a week and one Saturday each semester.

“The clinic has reached out to the community to serve a population of children and parents who have needed specific help in the areas of learning and adjustment challenges,” said Tom Kampwirth, who directed the clinic from 1972-75 and again from 1978-94. “Through our process of aligning our graduate students who are in training to be school psychologists, counselors, special education and general education teachers, with children and families in need of services, we have been able to have an enduring impact on the lives of these children and their families.”

In 2006, the COE’s Marriage and Family Therapy (MFT) program began training in the clinic. “MFT majors have the chance to learn their skills the same way as other graduate students preparing to serve the community learn theirs,” she said. “It is a natural fit.”

Powers envisions the June 1 event as a way of getting out the message to the surrounding community of what services are available at the clinic.

”I see this event as celebrating the past with all its great accomplishments as well as building for the future,” she said. “We fill a unique niche. This is also a great chance for us to pursue naming opportunities for the clinic, from individual rooms to the entire clinic. With new resources, this clinic could continue its record of excellence while going in new directions.”

Powers believes the clinic packs a one-two punch of service. “First, we offer affordable quality service for people without insurance,” she said. “We offer high-quality counseling, academic assessment and intervention services. But our second great strength is training. Our students’ clinical training complements the hundreds of hours in the field. The clinic is unique from fieldwork in that a faculty member is there to watch the students in real time. They don’t rely on anyone else to tell them how students are doing. They are there to give specific feedback and to offer in-depth discussion of various cases. This clinic offers a level of training that can’t be acquired in any other way.”

Kampwirth believes the clinic fills a special need.

“When parents find that their child’s school does not have the resources to help their child effectively, they typically will go outside the school to seek help from a variety of agencies. Many of these agencies are private and have fees that are too high for many families to absorb. The Educational Psychology Clinic has always been able to keep its charges minimal, and we therefore become the agency of choice for these families. But beyond the issue of cost is the fact of the high quality of attention that our students give to each of the children and families that come to the clinic. Our work is individualized, we consult frequently with the parents of our clients, and we prepare written reports that are valuable to the children’s schools and to their families.

“Another area of need in our community is for resources that are sensitive to the needs of families with diverse backgrounds. Over the past 20 years the clinic has received an increasing percentage of referrals from families who are bilingual and/or bicultural and whose children have difficulties in school because of their language differences. Our training programs have actively recruited graduate students who match the demographics of our community, and these students have been very effective in working with children and families of diverse backgrounds,” he said.

Powers surveys her own graduate students working in the clinic and receives plenty of positive feedback. “They often rate their time spent in the clinic as their number one experience in the course,” she said. “Plus, we get accolades from parents and clients which really inspires me to work toward expanding our services to better meet the needs of the community.”

She’s also pleased at how the clinic has begun to move in the direction of supporting faculty research. “Research projects began to be implemented in the clinic in 2006,” she explained. “The setting is ripe ground for research.”

Kampwirth opened the clinic door to faculty, staff and students. “The June 1 event is a celebration of the successes of the Educational Psychology Clinic,” he said. “The clinic has reached out to thousands of families during the past 40 years and, for many families, has put California State University, Long Beach on the map in a meaningful way. Attendance at the event would be a way for the larger CSULB family to demonstrate its awareness of the clinic and to congratulate the clinic staff on its excellent work.”

Powers is pleased with the way the event is coming together. “This will be a wonderful time to celebrate a jewel on the campus,” she said. “This clinic embodies the mission of the university, to provide highly valued educational opportunities through quality instruction, research and service to the community. Plus it offers a chance for College of Education graduates to re-connect with some of their favorite faculty members.”