VSU's FamilyWorks Offers Therapeutic Services to the Community

March 22, 2012

Jessica Pope
Communications and Media Relations Coordinator

VSU's FamilyWorks Offers Therapeutic Services to the Community

VALDOSTA -- Regardless of their ability to pay, no one is denied therapy services at FamilyWorks, the Valdosta State University-based clinic operated by the Marriage and Family Therapy Program. Seven days a week, clinic staff members help clients of all ages, from children to senior citizens, find solutions to whatever problems they may be experiencing.

According to information provided by the Marriage and Family Therapy Program, services are offered “to all people who seek them, regardless of age, gender, race, political or religious affiliation, sexual orientation, marital status, education, economic status, disability, or ethnic background.”

From 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Friday, March 30, FamilyWorks will open its doors to the public, inviting everyone to visit the clinic during this open house, meet the staff, tour the facility, and learn what services are offered, all while enjoying a light refreshment. Area agencies that may be interested in referring clients in the future, including public school systems, are especially encouraged to stop by and learn more about how the clinic can help them.

Although Marriage and Family Therapy faculty members serve in a supervisory role and see a few clients, FamilyWorks is a student-run clinic, said Dr. Kate Warner, a licensed marriage and family therapist, professor, and program director. First-year graduate students handle the intake process, including scheduling the client’s first appointment, gathering relevant background and contact information, documenting what prompted the client to seek therapy, and matching the client with a therapist. Advanced standing graduate students serve as the therapists.

Warner said that students graduate from the Marriage and Family Therapy Program with the know-how to operate their own private practice -- should they aspire to do so. She said this knowledge is vital to their future as owner-operators and clinicians.

Basically a large group practice, clients can be seen by individual therapists, a pair of therapists, or a faculty- or student-run consultation team. FamilyWorks deals with many different kinds of problems, from anger management and anxiety to divorce and depression to sexual issues and substance abuse to domestic violence, grief and loss, child behavior issues, and more, noted Warner. The therapist’s goal is to help the client make the changes he or she wants to make, taking into account every aspect of the client’s life and focusing on the client’s natural resources.

Clients are referred by outside agencies, but the biggest source of client referrals come from other clients, Warner said. To the FamilyWorks team, these referrals are proof that the client doing the referring has had a good experience and believes that their friend or loved one will have the same.

“We value those,” she added.

“Those are the best,” said Dr. Martha Laughlin, a licensed marriage and family therapist, professor, and director of clinical training for the program.

FamilyWorks is open seven days a week, year-round. The majority of services are provided between the hours of 9 a.m. and 10 p.m. However, if therapists wish to schedule sessions outside of those hours, based on the needs of their clients, they can do so.

Because FamilyWorks is a not-for-profit clinic seeking to provide low-cost therapy services to everyone and train advanced level graduate students, fees for sessions are based on a sliding scale and can be totally free of charge, depending on family size and income. However, no one will be denied services based on their inability to pay, said Laughlin.

Clients come from as far away as Nashville, Cairo, and Jennings, Fla., for therapy services. The student therapists also serve the community outside FamilyWorks in such organizations as Hospice of South Georgia, the Lowndes County Partnership for Health, the Migrant Farmworkers Clinic, the Georgia Department of Juvenile Justice, and others, said Dr. Jennifer Lambert-Shute, associate professor for VSU’s Marriage and Family Therapy Program.

FamilyWorks is located at 903 N. Patterson St. in the one-story annex connected to the Continuing Education building. The clinic entrance is next to Georgia Power.

VSU’s Marriage and Family Therapy Program leads to a Master of Science degree.

To schedule an appointment with a therapist, please call (229) 219-1281. Services are confidential to the fullest extent of the law, and all clinic staff members adhere to the highest ethical and professional standards in their relationship with clients.

To learn more about VSU’s Marriage and Family Therapy Program, please call (229) 219-1281 or visit www.valdosta.edu/mft/.