St. George’s University’s Psychological Services Center (PSC) has recently obtained full accreditation by the International Association of Counseling Services (IACS), a Virginia based organization of United States, Canadian, Australian and most recently, Grenadian counseling agencies.
Over the last two years, the PSC was extensively evaluated by IACS against high standards of counseling practice and was found to offer competent and reliable professional services. Approval by IACS was also dependent upon many other factors, including evidence of continuing professional development, as well as demonstration of excellence of counseling performance.
Among much else, the PSC was commended for having a “dedicated, culturally-competent and skilled staff” and offering an “effective array of program services.” It was found that the department makes “a vital contribution to the quality of student and campus life, as well as to your community members.” The PSC was also cited for its “social justice work, specifically around gender-based violence and regarding safe space and advocacy for GLBTQ persons.”
Becoming accredited is an important milestone that was only reached because of the efforts of countless St. George’s University staff, faculty and students since the PSC first opened as the Student Counseling Service in August, 1994. The PSC has changed and grown along with the larger university over the years. Once a largely forgotten and sleepy department on the edge of campus, the core clinical staff, comprised of licensed psychologists and master’s level psychotherapists, now see 600 persons, mostly SGU students, staff and faculty, in 2,500 counseling, psychotherapy and assessment sessions each year. Additionally, the psychiatrists push these numbers even higher, as they consult regarding the use of psychotropic medication.
The full-time clinicians sit on or chair a dozen university committees that oversee various aspects of student life, faculty searches, academic affairs and research. The PSC offers an ever-growing number of outreach activities, workshops, seminars and trainings. These include the topics of paraprofessional counseling, conflict resolution and stress management. Of course, the clinicians also taught three entire courses last term, as well as guest lectured in still others. Striving to empirically validate the clinical programs, more research projects such as PSC client satisfaction and student substance abuse patterns are being undertaken.
Given the commitment to social justice and responsibility that was cited by the IACS reviewers, the PSC staff takes careful measures to ensure that the department is managed with sensitivity to Mother Earth and environmental sustainability (e.g., conservation of paper, electricity and other resources). On a related note, recognizing that most funding comes directly from the pockets of students living on loans, the staff is equally conscious of and careful with fiscal expenditures. As stated previously, PSC personnel are also committed to conflict resolution programming, advocating for non-heterosexual persons and lessening gender-based violence.
In the same spirit of social responsibility, the PSC team gives back to Grenada by collaborating in various ways with colleagues in the island community. A brief summary of current projects includes the provision of counseling to individual Grenadians, training and consultation at Queen Elizabeth’s Children’s Home, assisting with the Vagina Monologues, a benefit for the Cedars Home for Abused Women and Their Children, and training a country-wide network of paraprofessional counselors to effectively assist women who are victims of domestic violence.
But the list does not stop there! Clinicians are available 24-hours per day for psychological emergencies and the department recently relocated from their years-long home in the Caribbean House to Building E, which is space that has already been outgrown. With all of this, time is still found to focus on individual professional development by regularly attending conferences and participating in professional organizations (e.g., Association of University and College Counseling Center Directors, American Psychological Association, Psychologists for Social Responsibility).
If customer satisfaction is any indication, PSC clinical services are useful to its client-base, as was found in an anonymous survey of 90 clients in March, 2009. Study highlights included:
- 89% of clients were satisfied with the services they received.
- 90% said that they would return to the PSC, if they sought help again.
- 92% reported that they would recommend the PSC to others needing similar help.
- 76% of those who felt it applied to their situation agreed with the statement that their grades improved as a result of services received at the PSC.
- 92% who felt that it was relevant to their circumstances agreed that they stayed in school as a result of services at the PSC.
Some of the comments made by clients from the same 2009 study were:
- “Psychological Services has been instrumental in helping me cope with all the downs and ups of medical school.”
- “I think that everything surrounding my experience with the Psychological Services Center was excellent. Everyone was very helpful, and I was more than satisfied with their services.”
- “I have found the services offered by the PSC to be tremendously helpful not only in my personal life, but will help me to be the best physician I can be.”
- “An excellent service that is a credit to the school.”
- “I called in the morning, and they got me in at lunch. It was a good thing too! I may not have made it through the day. I am ever grateful.”
Of course, the PSC’s work is far from finished. A partial listing of immediate future plans includes:
- Begin program for post-doctoral fellows in psychology.
- Add clinical offices, a 12-person group room, an on-site psychiatry office, a psychological assessment room and additional reception space.
- Computerize clinical records.
- Begin PSC clinical outcome studies and further quantify existence of psychopathology in the campus community.
- Refine the annual three week conflict resolution certificate program to better meet needs.
- Further minimize environmental destructiveness by taking additional measures to ensure that PSC office practices are sustainable.
For more information, please see the PSC’s website found at www.sgu.edu/psc. If you have questions or concerns, please phone the PSC at 473.439.2277 or visit the PSC offices on the