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The talking cure


No matter how emotionally and mentally healthy we think we are, we all have a problem or two that needs working out, but we frequently don't know where to turn. Enter Cal Poly Community Counseling Center, a 20-year-old program that offers counseling to people in the community.

"It's a low-cost counseling clinic associated with the master's degree program in Marriage and Family Therapy (MFT)," explained Clinic Director Kelly Moreno. "Our graduate students counsel individuals, couples, kids, and families who otherwise are unable to pay for the full fees [of a licensed professional]."

Currently the program has five graduate student counselors, or MFT Trainees, as they're also known - Dana Francis, Suzette Johnson, Michelle Mason, Paula Milliken, and Elena Vladu - who are actively seeking new clients. Potential clients are screened by Clinical Assistants Raya Hayes-Mora or Autumn Zernich to determine if the services offered are right for them.

"The graduate student counselors are trained to treat a selection of illnesses such as anxiety, depression, eating disorders, PTSD [Post Tramatic Stress Disorder], marital couple conflict, parent-child problems, anger problems," explained Moreno. "Some of our clients are mandated treatment by the courts because they've committed some kind of crime, but we typically don't handle psychotics, clinical depressives, the suicidal, or those with extreme substance abuse problems. People who may be mildly self-medicating with alcohol, or people thinking about death but not necessarily obsessing about it are potential candidates."

Those treated work one-on-one with a graduate student counselor, and the sessions are observed remotely by another student who monitors a video recorder. Taped sessions are then reviewed by Moreno or the Program Chair Mike Selby.

"Lately [our client pool] has gotten a little lean," said Moreno. "It's kind of a tough situation because people who need treatment either have the money or insurance to pay, or they're really sick and qualify for County Mental Health. I know the need is out there, which is why we're reaching out and informing the public of our services.

"Depending on income, sessions are $3 to $15," continued Moreno, "but if someone can't pay, we'll work with them."

There's also no limit to the number of sessions a client can attend, though MFT Trainees turn over every sixth months so clients may be forced to change counselors before completing treatment.

"Some clients come for years, off and on, and others get what they need in a session or two," said Moreno. "It's kind of a luxury for people without money to go for as long as they need."

Sessions take place on the Cal Poly campus in Building 2, and the clinic is open from 8 a.m. until 8 p.m. Clinical assistants are standing by to take your call: 756-1532.



After sustaining years of rain damage and termite infestations, (not to mention the vandalism and break-ins it incurred just last holiday season), Santa's House in Mission Plaza needs to be totally rebuilt. Unfortunately, the SLO Downtown Association, along with Temple Builders and Leadership SLO, don't have enough funds to build a structure that's both tamperproof and ADA compliant. They're appealing to the public for building supplies and money so they can complete the project and have the house ready for photo-ready guests by Nov. 25. That's the day after Thanksgiving, and that's not too far from now. To help out, call 541-0286. . ...

... Just a reminder: On account of Nov. 11 being Veterans' Day: The Central Coast Veterans' Memorial Museum (in SLO) is collecting funds for a wall to honor our servicepeople. You can contact them at 543-8240.



This week's Strokes and Plugs was compiled by Glen Starkey and Alice Moss, who are both mentally unstable. Send your business ideas to

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