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Brockport's counseling department partners with Oak Orchard Health

by Paul Cifonelli - Sports Editor
Wed, Dec 4th 2019 03:00 pm
The College at Brockport's mental health counseling department has teamed up with Oak Orchard Health to provide counseling to patients. Photo Courtesy of oakorchardhealth.org/brockport
The College at Brockport's mental health counseling department has teamed up with Oak Orchard Health to provide counseling to patients. Photo Courtesy of oakorchardhealth.org/brockport

For most college students, there are limited opportunities to work in the field they are pursuing while still taking classes. The College at Brockport mental health counseling department has recently finished up the final details of a partnership with the Oak Orchard Child and Adolescent Mental Health Clinic. The partnership will see Brockport students working to provide mental health counseling for Oak Orchard patients.

The partnership was made possible because of a grant received from Oak Orchard, and these services will now be available to people who would not have been able to afford them.

“They [Oak Orchard] received a pretty large grant from New York State and our counseling students will be providing services to local people in need of mental health counseling,” Vice President for University Relations David Mihalyov said. “That’s very important because a lot of people that need these services can’t get into Rochester. They, from a transportation standpoint, can’t get there. So to be able to provide these types of services locally is huge.”

The proposal for the partnership had been on the table for three years before a deal was finally struck. Dean of the School of Education, Health and Human Services Thomas Hernandez, Ed.D., brought the idea up and worked to provide this opportunity for students who are about to enter into the industry.

“It took about three years to develop the initial proposal and then to work out the details with Oak Orchard,” Hernandez said. “The exciting part about this partnership is that it not only provides a practicum experience for students in the mental health counseling master’s program here at the college, but it will also begin to make headway in meeting the mental health needs for children, adolescents and adults here in this part of Western New York.”

In total, six students will be able to participate for one semester a year. The practicum is offered in the spring, summer and fall semesters. According to Department of Counseling Education chair Robert Dobmeier, Ph.D., the students who take part in the practicum acknowledge the benefits of it and also know it will help expand the program.

“Our current and prospective mental health counseling students recognize the value of working with children and teens in the practicum,” Dobmeier said. “They gain real world experience, which they include in their résumé, that allows them to find employment working with populations in need of mental health counseling. Having the Oak Orchard practicum available creates interest and demand for our program.”

For the students, this is an opportunity to complete their required practicum in the community they go to school in.

“The partnership with Oak Orchard allows our mental health counseling master’s students to complete their practicum experience in the local community,” Dobmeier said. “Students in our school counseling master’s program complete their practicum in the Brockport Central School District. Students in our college counseling and student affairs master’s program have their practicum in one of the college’s student affairs offices. After completing the practicum all of our students experience two semesters of internship in local mental health agencies, school districts and colleges/universities.”

The Oak Orchard partnership has been something that Hernandez has wanted for quite a while. He brought up a similar concept about 20 years ago but was not able to get it off the ground. In the end, Brockport’s relationship with Oak Orchard is possible due to a few others that were almost completed.

“I first proposed a mental health clinic for the community in the late 1990s, but we were unable to garner the support for this,” Hernandez said. “There is a substantial need for mental health services in this part of Monroe County which led us to pursue work that would at least begin to address the needs of the community. Initially the plan was for the college to open our own mental health clinic in partnership with the Brockport Central School District. It happens that, simultaneously, Oak Orchard was thinking about adding a behavioral health component to their services and reached out to the Brockport Central School District, and thus our partnership was born.”

Now that the Oak Orchard partnership has been finalized, the organizers have time to take a deep breath. However, Hernandez is still looking for similar partnerships to help other programs.

“Our faculty and staff in the School of Education, Health and Human Services are well versed in the development of these kinds of partnerships,” Hernandez said. “I am certain there will be more partnerships across the region in the near future.”

Oak Orchard is located at 300 West Ave. in Brockport, New York The facility is open everyday except Sundays.


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