Interns Help City Expand Counseling Services

Article excerpt

The Youth and Family Counseling Center (YFCC) of Fremont, Calif, successfully uses volunteer counseling interns' to expand mental health services for residents. Founded more than 20 years ago as a juvenile diversion program, YFCC is a division of the city's human services department that offers a variety of family, one-to-one, and group counseling services to help improve family relationships in times of stress or crisis.

Typically, the counseling interns are completing advanced degrees or have graduated and need supervised clinical experience to secure a license to practice in California. The city uses this group of highly trained volunteers for work in the Center, elementary and junior high schools, local emergency shelters, and apartment complexes for families with low, incomes.

Counseling interns are not free. To attract the best interns, YFCC offers an excellent supervised program with a licensed therapist, regular training sessions, and the opportunity to work with a variety of clients.

Benefits of the Intern Program

The use of counseling interns permits the City to increase the amount of services offered at very low cost. The expense is about 20 to 30 percent of the cost for a staff therapist. YFCC started with one or two interns and now has 18 placed all over the city, doubling the number of people the Center can serve.

The city also has uses the interns to increase access to counseling services. Interns go where the prospective clients are. Sending counseling interns to a school campus, for example, means the parent's work schedule and transportation are not an obstacle for a youngster who needs assistance is available on a drop-by basis. …