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Bozeman counselors-in-training offer free 'TeleHealth' help amid pandemic

MSU's Human Development Clinic provides counseling over the phone, computer
Posted at 3:08 PM, May 11, 2020
and last updated 2020-05-11 17:08:30-04

Looking for help right now might seem like one of the most difficult things to do, especially when you are stuck at home or when options of counseling look expensive.

“We serve clients not only from the university but also in the community,” says Heidi McKinley, Human Development Clinic director.

Training to be a port in the storm never was meant to happen in the center of a pandemic.

For the counselors-in-training at MSU’s Human Development Clinic, that’s exactly what they are doing.

“How can we, first of all, continue services for our clients but also meet the needs of people who have really suffered,” McKinley says.

Clinic director Heidi McKinley says the rooms that once worked for clients are now empty, so she found another way.

“We transferred all of our clients over to telehealth services so every counselor here is now seeing their clients not in person but over the computer,” McKinley says.

...A new challenge for counselors-in-training like Zach Todd, too.

“One of the most profound things that I’ve noticed is just the variety of experiences that people are having over this time,” Todd says.

These counselors-in-training that would be talking through a computer screen like this one are all a part of MSU counseling program.

Since the clinic staff say counseling like this can make all the difference, anyway, it’s free until further notice.

When they do go back to regular billing, the cost will be based on client income, about $5 to $30.

If you need emergency help, the clinic can point you in the right direction.

Like the Help Center.

And McKinley’s response to if you don’t have the cash shows where the counselors’ hearts are.

“I really don’t want to turn people away because of a lack of ability to pay,” McKinley says. “It is difficult and really empowering to be able to give back.”

If you don’t have a computer, a phone call works, too, anything to make the darkness a lighter place.

“Strength is really knowing when to reach out,” Todd says.

“Just remembering that you are not alone,” McKinley says. “We can offer you services.”

The clinic director says there are still openings now -- and calls for appointments are returned in just days.

More details on how to get in touch with the clinic:

Counseling sessions are free until further notice and when we do go back to charging for our services, the cost is $5-$30/session, depending on client’s income. The Clinic Director has the ability to make exceptions and offer financial assistance when needed;

· We serve the Bozeman and Big Sky communities and provide services for both community members and MSU students. The main counseling clinic that serves MSU students specifically is Counseling and Psychological Services (CPS) and they are a great, free resource for MSU students;

· We work individuals, couples, families, and minors;

· We do not offer crisis or walk-in/call-in services, but can provide referrals for those needs (the Bozeman Help Center is somewhere we refer our clients to often);

· All counselors are counselors-in-training through MSU’s counseling program and are supervised by licensed counselors and doctoral level counselor educators;

· All of our sessions are currently taking place via telehealth and we are following the state’s lead and MSU’s lead on when we will go back to in-person sessions. While we are using telehealth to provide counseling services we are using a HIPAA compliant platform called Doxy;

· We offer evening hours, on most days our clinic is open until 8PM;

· Typically we can get clients in within one week. If we do have a waitlist, we implement session limits so that people don’t have to wait too long for services;

To make an appointment, please call (406)994-5993.