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A&M-Commerce-run counseling center opens in McKinney

By Adam Troxtell
On March 3, 2011

The A&M-Commerce counseling department and McKinney ISD have teamed up to create the new Harold Murphy Counseling Center, which provides counseling services to MISD students, parents, and faculty.

The center, which officially opened on Feb. 22, is the brainchild of Interim Chair of the Counseling Department Steve Armstrong.

"I proposed the idea to Tina Davis, the director of counseling at McKinney ISD, back in the summer," Armstrong said. "She thought it was a good idea. So, we met with the superintendent, Dr. J.D. Kennedy, and he liked the idea."

The school district struck a deal with A&M-Commerce that included using a current MISD building, the Greer Annex located at 510 Heard Street in McKinney, to house the Harold Murphy Counseling Center. The counseling department will staff the center with professors and students looking for experience in a supervised atmosphere.

"The advantage for us is it gives our students the opportunity to continue to develop their clinical skills," he said. "Initially, we're using only doctoral students. Eventually, some masters students will also provide some counseling, but we won't do that until next fall at the earliest."

The center offers counseling sessions to any student in the MISD system.

"We provide counseling to every student who needs it in the school district, Pre-K through age 18," Armstrong said. "In addition to that, any family member of a child who is going to McKinney ISD, any parent that wanted to come there, we could do that. We're also going to provide counseling to McKinney ISD employees."

For this reason, Armstrong said the counseling center is very beneficial to the McKinney schools and the surrounding area.

"What's good for McKinney ISD and the community around there is we provide counseling at an affordable cost, and the quality of the counseling will be good because everyone who provides counseling for them is supervised by professors or doctoral students in our counseling department," he said. "It's a good opportunity for us, and what it allows for us to do is give something to the community."

A&M-Commerce doctoral student Jamaica Chapple works as a supervisor at the counseling center. She said it provides counseling students to get experience in their specialty.

"It's an opportunity to be exposed to different types of clinical services," she said. "In the doctoral program we have focus areas. Here at the counseling center there are students who specialize in child/adolescent, those that deal with adults one-on-one, and those that do family counseling."

The cost of the counseling center is based on a "sliding scale", according to Armstrong. This means the price of sessions is dependent on an individual family's income.

"Based on your income, the amount that you pay varies," Armstrong said. "Because we're trying to make this as affordable as possible, for lower income families, like let's say the family made less that $20,000 annually, and it was a family of four, they really aren't going to pay very much."

Armstrong also explained the process of bringing someone in for counseling involves matching that person with the best staff member for that specific case.

"We do an initial intake for referral," he said. "If a mother comes in and wants counseling for her 8-year-old son, we'll spend an hour or so with the mother, find out what the problem is and match that child with the best counselor we think would be available."

Armstrong said a ribbon cutting ceremony will take place at the counseling center on March 22 and both MISD and A&M-Commerce officials will be in attendance.

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