University Hall Clinic serves students, community

August 27, 2010

Two years ago Lynn Behrens had not heard of the Rowe Center for Communicative Disorders at Indiana State University. All she knew was her son struggled to speak and state aid to pay for a speech therapist would end when he turned 3.

Then his therapist mentioned the Rowe Center.

"The Rowe Center is personally to thank for any progress he has made," she said.

Last year, when her daughter began showing the same problems, she too began attending speech therapy at Indiana State.

"If I didn't have this I don't know what we would do," Behrens said. "If we had to pay out of pocket for speech therapy, they just wouldn't get any."

The center's move to University Hall and the formation of the University Hall Clinic allowed Behrens to learn of - and use -other clinical services. The University Hall Clinic now is home to the Counseling Clinic, the Rowe Clinic and the Porter School Psychology Clinic. Indiana State students, overseen by licensed professionals, provide services for the community members.

As Behrens waited for her children to finish speech therapy at the University Hall Clinic, she found out about the other services offered at the clinic. She filled out a counseling referral and found help for herself.

"Now, I've been going because I'm coping with two special needs kids," she said.

Helping clients in multiple ways is simply one reason for integrating the clinics, according to Vicki Hammen, associate professor of communication disorders and University Hall clinic director.

"We were spread across multiple floors in Statesman Towers," she said. "That certainly didn't encourage true collaborative, interdisciplinary work for clients. The real benefit is our students are learning a true interdisciplinary model."

That will pay off when the students enter the workplace.

"They're experiencing what a team approach would be to work with clients," Hammen said.

Stephanie Pemberton, a school psychology doctoral student from Mitchell, said one of her clients at the clinic needed language help and she connected her client to the Rowe Center.

"We get to work more with other departments," she said. "If we have a case that needs additional help, we can bring in others."

As the future school psychologists test students to determine their strengths and weaknesses and find ways to help them academically, Rebekah Phillips, a school psychology doctoral student from Richfield, Wis., said the clinic prepares them for the real world.

"We're going through the whole process," she said. "We work from the beginning to the end."

In the Counseling Clinic, graduate students work with students suspended from the Vigo County School Corporation in conflict resolution classes. They provide counseling for community members. Recently, the clinic expanded its counseling services to military families.

Fue Yang, a mental health counseling graduate student from Cottage Grove, Minn., said during his practicum in Vigo County schools he found children were impacted greatly by their parents' deployments.

"They're in very important developmental years," he said. "If a father or mother is constantly deployed then they're losing bonding time, love and affection with their parent."

Yang said offering counseling to the military families, and to the community, is a great service provided by the clinic. The clinic charges no fees for services at this time.

"We have one stop shopping, especially if you've got multiple needs, without having to go to three different locations," Hammen said. "We are providing a service to the community and we're providing a good experiential learning opportunity."

Undergraduates also have the opportunity to learn through the clinic.

Lana Schrock, junior speech-language pathology major and former president of the Indiana State chapter of the National Speech Language and Hearing Association, said working in the clinic has done more than simply confirm her plan to go into speech therapy.

"Being able to be a clinician during my undergrad has allowed me to get first-hand experience in a setting where I have many mentors and supervisors who are willing to assist me," she said. "It also gives us a chance to take what we've learned and apply it."

Students applying what they have learned have helped to meet needs in the community.

Allison McKanna stood in the observation room watching her 5-year-old son Connor through the one-way mirror. Connor started his sentence but then stopped himself and started over carefully creating the "l" sounds.

"Lauren is really funny," he said talking about his younger sister.

"I like how you went back and fixed it," Sierra Singleton, an Indiana State graduate student in speech language pathology said praising the boy.

Connor continued talking about his sister and practicing forming "l" or "licking" sounds as he called them.

"His first semester, we were amazed. He made a lot of progress in a lot of areas. Now he doesn't need a lot of prompting," his mother said. "We're just very big fans."

Inside the room, Connor continued making sentences using his "l" sounds and said, "I love mommy."

To make an appointment at the University Hall Clinic, call 812-237-2800

Photo: http://isuphoto.smugmug.com/photos/850545428_Hcf2W-D.jpg
Connor McKanna places a marble on a caterpillar's hand after correctly pronouncing an "l" sound while communication disorders graduate student Sienna Singleton watches. ISU Photo/Kara Berchem

Photo: http://isuphoto.smugmug.com/photos/850548253_jk3Wr-D.jpg
ISU communication disorders graduate student Kelsie Miller works with a child in the University Hall Clinic. ISU Photo/Kara Berchem

Contact: Vicki Hammen, Indiana State University, associate professor of communication disorders and University Hall clinic director, at 812-237-2805 or Vicki.Hammen@indstate.edu

Writer: Jennifer Sicking, Indiana State University, assistant director of media relations, at 812-237-7972 or Jennifer.Sicking@indstate.edu