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Talk is cheap 

According to the National Institute of Mental Health, one in four American adults will suffer from a diagnosable mental illness this year. Many will seek treatment or counseling, but many because the cost is too high and not covered by insurance won't. Bridging the gap between social services and HMOs is Cal Poly's Community Counseling Service. The program has two functions: It serves a group of people whose needs aren't met by our current health system, and it provides real world training for the grad students who act as counselors.

click to enlarge TALK TO ME :  Cal Poly counselors (from left to right) Alexandra Vignozo, Kristen Namstrom, Professor Kelly Moreno, and Lydia Leonard provide low-cost counseling to the masses. - PHOTO BY JESSE ACOSTA
  • PHOTO BY JESSE ACOSTA
  • TALK TO ME : Cal Poly counselors (from left to right) Alexandra Vignozo, Kristen Namstrom, Professor Kelly Moreno, and Lydia Leonard provide low-cost counseling to the masses.

# The program is designed for individuals, couples, and children suffering from depression, anxiety, anger issues, relationship problems, and family problems not for individuals with chronic mental illness, who are chemically dependent, or who are in the midst of a crisis. Patients meet with a trained student counselor anywhere from twice a week to once a month, depending on their needs. For the counselors, the class runs two quarters, or about six months, so clients stay with the same counselor for the duration, and work closely on tailored goals or treatment. The service is provided at a very modest fee to the client, based on a sliding scale. Cost per session ranges between $3 and $15, but program director Kelly Moreno said that if a client demonstrates a real need for treatment, the clinic can make exceptions.

The program currently has about eight students working, so appointment times are flexible. After each session, the students face a review from one of three clinically licensed professors who oversee the program. Dr. Kelly Moreno, Dr. Michael Shelby, and Dr. Lisa Sweatt ensure that both student and client are getting a good experience.

Counseling sessions take place Monday through Friday at Cal Poly in the Education building. For more information, call 756-1532.

Kylie Mendonca compiled this week's Strokes and Plugs. Send your business news to rmiller@newtimesslo.com.

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