April 9, 2014

Jessica Pope
Communications and Media Relations Coordinator

Jessica Moger: Serving The Community While Learning To Do Good Therapy

VALDOSTA — Jessica A. Moger of Lanesboro, Minn., entered Valdosta State University’s Marriage and Family Therapy Program in August 2012 and was immediately put to work in the campus-based FamilyWorks.

Operated by the Marriage and Family Therapy Program, FamilyWorks is a student-run clinic that helps clients of all ages find solutions for any problems they may be experiencing. First-year graduate students handle the intake process, and advanced standing graduate students serve as the therapists.

“From the very first day I arrived on campus, I started serving the Valdosta area and other communities by working in the FamilyWorks clinic,” noted Moger, who earned Bachelor of Arts degrees in both political science and psychology in May 2011 from the University of Minnesota. “My duties included babysitting small kids while their parents received therapy services, answering telephones, scheduling appointments, delivering messages, conducting community outreach initiatives to get the word out about the services offered at the clinic … whatever needed to be done.”

Now in her second year of the Marriage and Family Therapy Program, Moger spends most of her time viewing therapy sessions conducted by fellow graduate students, conducting therapy sessions with her own clients, marketing the clinic to potential new clients, logging notes and maintaining records, and so on. The 24-year-old has worked with children and adults — as individuals, couples and families — helping them deal with such issues as anger management, substance abuse, anxiety, divorce, depression, grief and loss, sexual issues, domestic violence, and child behavior.

“I am learning how to do good therapy,” she said, “and once I can do that, I can tailor it to anyone. I focus on helping clients change their relationship to a particular issue. I see a lot of change happening.”

Moger also serves the community and gains valuable experience as an intern with Choices for Life of Georgia LLC, which offers both outpatient child and adolescent behavioral health services for the community at-large and child-placing services for foster care children with more intense emotional and behavioral needs. This pursuit allows her to learn how to work with various insurance companies, diagnose clients, and develop an effective treatment plan despite any limitations placed upon her by outside sources. This is a very different experience from that at FamilyWorks, which is a not-for-profit teaching clinic.

“I definitely get to see the red tape side of things, which I understand,” she shared. “I know that health insurance companies have limits as to what they will pay for. It can be hard [to treat clients under those conditions], but just as much as it is a curse, it is also a blessing because it can make you get creative.”

At FamilyWorks, Moger said that she is not restricted by how much money or health insurance a client has. She is not restricted by timelines.

“We can do more,” she continued, “and we can do it a bit differently because we do not have those limitations. You can see the relief in people’s faces when they walk in the door. Without the clinic, many people would not get the help they need to deal with issues they are facing.”    

Moger’s goal as a student therapist at FamilyWorks is to help her clients make the changes they want to make, taking into account each and every aspect of the client’s life and focusing on the client’s natural resources. Her instructors are there to guide her and offer support.

“When I graduate, I will know how to run my own clinic from front to back, top to bottom,” Moger shared. “Because of the philosophy of VSU’s Marriage and Family Therapy Program [and her experience at Choices for Life), I don’t feel uncomfortable working with any type of case or person. I try to approach each session from a place of curiosity, as well as a desire to understand. I am obsessed with therapy. I love it. It’s magical.”

Moger plans to graduate with a Master of Science degree in May 2014, followed by a hooding ceremony in August. Her dream is to open a private therapy practice in her hometown.