Individual & Family Matters (IFM) is a counseling service of the Graduate Department of Counseling at George Fox University’s Portland Center. The sliding scale clinic was established for the 2007-08 year and is now in its fourth year of service.
IFM is staffed exclusively with marriage and family therapy and professional counseling interns. These advanced graduate student interns also assist in the administrative details of the clinic. IFM staff has grown from two to four interns.
In the first year of operation, the clinic interns met with clients for a total of 173 hours, 54 individuals and 119 family/couples. The clinic has grown considerably in the past three years. Since the clinic's inception, interns have met with clients for a total of 1180.75 hours, 582.5 individuals and 596.5 family/couples. We are encouraged that this growing trend will continue due to the quality of the service provided.
The reality is that within these statistics are real people who come to the clinic hoping to find help. Our clients are struggling with issues that impact their life, their family, their couple relationship, and their children. Some of their issues are around relationships, anxiety, depression, grief, divorce, parenting and self-esteem.
I would like to introduce you to three of our many clients:
First is the young woman who during the spring of her senior year in high school sought help to manage her cutting behaviors, her suicidal thoughts and her perfectionist tendencies before heading to college out of state. After six months of intensive work at IFM, she started college with a commitment to continue to stay in contact with a mental health professional on her new campus.
Second is the blended family who, along with their ex-spouses, were sending the kids mixed messages about roles and rules, making life in general very difficult and adversarial. The co-therapy team had multiple sessions with the custodial parents and children as well as sessions with the custodial and non-custodial parents. Work centered around sending a unified voice with clear rules/consequences to the children and limiting the sabotage.
Third is the couple struggling with their marital relationship, their extended families, their ability to negotiate with one another, their commitment to one another and how to make sense of it all. They have many strengths and have overcome many obstacles including substance abuse. Sessions can be volatile and tentative, productive and focused, and then regress. They have just discovered they are going to have a baby.
Though our IFM interns have a big learning curve, they rise to the occasion. We have exciting days in the clinic – our days are filled with new learning, training, growth, service to the community and to the people we call clients.
Ellen R. Minshew, MS, LMFT
AAMFT Clinical Member/Approved Supervisor
Director, Individual & Family Matters
Graduate Department of Counseling,
George Fox University
12570 S.W. 69th Ave., Portland, OR 97223