One-way mirror to offer counseling insights

By Katie Valentine , Staff Writer

The College of Social Work is building bridges through a one-way mirror.

A bridge connects the old College of Social Work building to the new Goodwill Humanitarian building, constructed so that the college can give its students real-life experience in therapy and counseling. The new building’s Bridge Counseling Center provides free counseling for anyone, with the stipulation that they allow graduate students to watch their sessions through a one-way mirror, said Pamela Seager, executive secretary for College of Social Work.

“It’s more effective because it’s real,” said David Derezotes, a professor in the college.

The counseling takes place in rooms that have what appears to be a mirror on one side of it. On the other side of the mirror is a class of students. The students observe their professors counsel people in a real session. Students watch the sessions as professors counsel with clients then discuss what they’ve seen and apply it to their studies.

Dropping in on a live session gives students more insight, said Kayleen Savage, a graduate student in social work.

It’s like going to the source, instead of reading about it, said Kenny Frazier, a graduate student in Social Work.

So far, the center has seven clients since the program started this semester, Seager said.
There is no precedent for the center because the U is the only school with this kind of setup, so the college is still experimenting with it, Derezotes said.

The sessions are also recorded with video cameras and audio recorders so professors can go back and review sessions with students later. The rooms were planned for when the building’s construction began in April 2007. Big D was the contractor and provided the one-way mirrors for the rooms.

“(The rooms) are really state of the art,” said Matt Harting, a manager for the College of Social Work.

There are microphones in the ceiling of the counseling rooms, and two camera angles allow students to see clients from different angles. Some clients have been uncomfortable with the idea of having their session watched, but once they get in the room, they feel more comfortable, Harting said.

The counseling rooms vary in size. There are rooms with two chairs for one-on-one sessions as well as rooms with several couches for family counseling. There is also a play room for families with small children.

A large room on the lower floor of the building is also being used to heal relational and cultural counseling rifts. Members of the Latter-day Saint Student Association and students who are lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender met there about two weeks ago to discuss the relationship between spirituality and sexuality.

The college plans to hold more events in the first floor room to bridge more parts of campus together along with the community and campus, Derezotes said.

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