Southwest Counseling Program Partners with UT Episcopal Student Center

In Fall of 2019, Seminary of the Southwest’s Program in Clinical Mental Health Counseling partnered with The University of Texas (UT) Episcopal Student Center (ESC) to place graduate student interns at the center to provide free counseling to college students.

“These interns, supervised by Maria Spellings, Ph.D., LPC-S, Assistant Prof. of Counselor Education, will augment the efforts of our in-house counselor, Rebekah Johns, LPC-Associate, to offer our services to the wider campus.” said the UT Episcopal Student Center website.

Before this partnership began, the ESC had one in-house counselor who was only able to visit with 18-25 UT students per week. With the Southwest interns joining the team, they can now serve up to 100 college students, all across Texas.

This partnership launched right as the pandemic started, said Southwest Assistant Professor of Counselor Education, Dr. Maria Spellings. All of the individual and group counseling sessions take place on a virtual platform similar to Zoom.

“Accessing mental health via telehealth can be a barrier for some, but we are hoping to transition to in-person sessions in the future,” said Spellings.

“The ESC Counseling Center is led by Clinical Director Rebekah Johns. In partnership with the Seminary of the Southwest, our student interns are Jillian Jagmin, Ash Lindstrom, and Jordan Weinert.” said the UT Episcopal Student Center website.

“Spirituality and religion are important to holistic well-being,” said Spellings. “Our students are well-equipped in this aspect.”

Spellings said one thing she loves about the Episcopal faith is that they have a commitment to the holistic person, providing the services people need, whether it’s food, counseling, or disaster relief. “That’s the Gospel in fruition,” she said.

Even though the Seminary and the Student Center are Episcopal-based, our counseling students come from all different backgrounds. They integrate religion into their counseling sessions from the client’s point-of-view. “They are multi-culturally competent,” Spellings said.

The future of this partnership is hopeful. In addition to having in-person sessions available, Spellings said she hopes this also becomes a model for other Episcopal Student Centers. They also hope to offer more resources like mindfulness sessions that might include yoga.

“Guided by an integrated approach to student health, we hope to build a wellness center where students are fed physically and spiritually, and find counseling support to manage all the issues college students face,” said the UT Episcopal Student Center website. “We envision a community where students experience “the peace of God, which surpasses understanding” (Phil. 4:7), and the ways in which “God’s perfect love casts out all fear” (1 John 4:18).”