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  January 27, 2003

Graduate Students To Provide Therapy
To DCF Clients Under New Agreement
By Allison Thompson

The Frederick G. Humphrey Center for Marital and Family Therapy and the state Department of Children and Families have signed an agreement that will provide the agency with sorely needed therapists and give UConn graduate students valuable training and experience.

Under the memorandum of agreement, signed in December, the DCF Eastern Regional Office will refer adult clients to the Humphrey Center, part of the School of Family Studies. There, the clients, most of whom have had their children taken away for safety reasons, will be seen by graduate students in the marriage and family therapy program.

"The agreement fulfills DCF's need to find treatment for adults," says Leslie Strong, the Center's associate director, "while it allows our graduate students to get the necessary experience with clients."

The agreement formalizes an unofficial arrangement the Center and DCF have had for years. In the past, a client would call the Center and say he had been referred by DCF. Often, the client would present one version of events, while a DCF case manager would present another, Strong says. Under the memorandum of agreement, the client and the case manager both attend the first meeting with the Center's clinician in order to ensure that everyone has the same treatment goals.

"It's a better situation for the client, the clinician, and DCF," Strong says. "It will create a caring, integrated, and goal-oriented framework for a partnership between the Humphrey Center, DCF, and families."

The agreement will help address the shortage of adult mental health services facing DCF. "It's going to provide a service we seriously need," says Eugene Marchand, manager of the DCF Eastern Regional Office's community services unit.

The Eastern Regional Office, which represents Windham County and New London County, does not have formal agreements with any other clinics to provide services to adult clients.

The agreement also helps graduate students enrolled in the marriage and family therapy program. Working with DCF clients will get them closer to the 500 supervised hours of time with clients they need for their master's degree.

The agreement will give the students a better understanding of DCF and other similar agencies, says Strong, noting that many of them will work for DCF or have contact with the agency once they graduate.

Graduate students will begin seeing DCF clients during their second year in the two-year master's degree program. First-year students will do a practicum at DCF in preparation.

The practicum will provide the students with real-life experience and a sense of what protective services are about, says Marchand. After working with the students, the Community Services Unit will be able to tout interns to providers for paid jobs.

Once they begin seeing clients, each graduate student will work with up to three DCF clients at a time.

Since the agreement was signed last month, DCF has referred three clients to the Humphrey Center, which charges DCF $40 per session. By comparison, private practitioners charge about $100 per session.

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