UNO’s Community Counseling Clinic provides learning opportunities and affordable mental health care

Dan Kissinger sits on a couch in one of the rooms where students meet with clients at the counseling center. The rooms are outfitted with cameras and feature white noise machines outside the doors for added privacy. Photo by Cassie Wade

Cassie Wade

The Community Counseling Clinic at the University of Nebraska at Omaha provides affordable mental health care for community members and learning opportunities for graduate students.

The clinic, which is located on the first floor of Roskens Hall, is run by the UNO Counseling Department and is a training clinic for advanced counseling students, Dan Kissinger, chair of UNO’s counseling department, said.

Students work in the clinic for practicum or internship credit, Kissinger said. They see clients and practice with the supervision of a licensed clinical supervisor.

“The students are all the counselors,” Kissinger said. “The faculty supervises the students, but all of the counselors there – counselors in training – are advanced counseling students.”

Kissinger said the clinic is run as an outpatient clinic. Students working in the clinic are responsible for a variety of tasks when working with clients, including completing initial intake interviews, setting up appointments and completing documentation.

“They are exposed to essentially all of the different elements of what a professional counselor would do out in a community agency or, in some ways, a private practice,” Kissinger said. “Really, from A to Z, the students get the full range of experience as much as possible in a training clinic as what they will do once they graduate,” Kissinger said.

The majority of the clinic’s clients are members of the community, Kissinger said. Some UNO students are clients as well but not many because other mental health resources are provided on campus.

“A lot of the students can go over to Counseling and Psychological Services, so we refer over there first,” Kissinger said.

Kissinger said students work with clients who have a variety of mental health needs.

“The issues range from depression to relationship issues, anxiety and sometimes [things] a little bit more severe,” Kissinger said. “But mostly just the issues that people are dealing with on a normal day-to-day basis.”

Karlene Tyler, who is working on a master’s degree in clinical mental health in the school of counseling track, worked in the clinic over the summer. She said seeing a variety of clients helped her make a decision on where she wanted to complete her internship, which is the next step following students’ completion of practicum at the clinic.

“It really funneled what population we’d want to work with and gave us the necessary exposure to make an informed decision as to be able to pick whichever place we’d want to do our internship,” Tyler said. “The nature of the clientele I think really prepared me for a successful internship at Lasting Hope.”

Besides providing graduate students with real-world experience, the clinic provides community members with low-cost mental healthcare.

Kissinger said clients are charged $10 per session, which makes the counseling clinic one of the few low-cost mental health clinics in Omaha.

“That’s one of our big calling cards, that is we do provide a really good service at low cost,” Kissinger said. “A lot of people that maybe couldn’t afford mental health services could come here and receive services.”