A Healthy Exchange
By Max Esterhuizen, M.S. ’15
Just down U.S. Route 11 in Christiansburg, Radford University students in the Doctor of Psychology in Counseling Psychology (Psy.D.) program work hands-on with clients at the Community Health Center (CHC).
The CHC and its satellite offices offer a wide range of services to patients, including general medical care, women’s health services, dental care and behavioral healthcare. The CHC strives to be a comprehensive center for patient care.
Inside the CHC, Radford Psy.D. students provide mental health counseling services to those who do not have insurance or cannot afford a sliding scale, allowing services to be provided to a wider range of people at no cost.
Elizabeth Cottrell, a Psy.D. student from Raleigh, North Carolina, worked in the CHC during her first year in the program. She said that the work is important to her and her values.
“It was really meaningful work,” she said. “Lots of programs do practicum and clinical experiences in college counseling centers. We do have that, and we have those experiences, but this is a chance to be involved in the community and see a side of clinical work that maybe we otherwise wouldn’t [experience].”
This is a chance to be involved in the community and see a side of clinical work that maybe we otherwise wouldn’t."
While rural and urban areas are vastly different, many of the mental health issues are similar. Issues range from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) to addictions to trauma and other disorders.
“I’m seeing more PTSD around here, especially when we think about what trauma means and how do we define it,” said Victor Bullock, another Psy.D. student, of Prince George, Virginia. “Part of that goes back to an individual’s culture. Not talking bad about people and trying to keep issues contained. We need to get through that so we can really address what’s going on. PTSD doesn’t go away by itself, so it’s been untreated for a long time.”
Part of the CHC’s ability to educate patients about mental health services stems from the clinic’s offering of a variety of health options, which helps introduce patients to mental health services during regular health checkups or dentist appointments.
“I think having all that under the same roof helps promote a variety of services. It also normalizes us as therapists. We’re just people,” Bullock said. “[The CHC] brings together mental health and behavioral health with more traditional medicine and dentistry in a place that really helps to lower stigma and get people introduced to mental health clinicians and expand their knowledge of what services are available.”