Indiana State University Newsroom

Work with youth provides Indiana State grad students real-life counseling experience

October 20, 2015

It wasn't card games or songs that Chelsea Boink of Carmel had in mind for her client's next therapy session at Indiana State University's Norma and William Grosjean Clinic.

Instead, Boink, a graduate student in the Bayh College of Education's clinical mental health counseling program who likes to integrate art therapy into her work, uses an Internet search bar to find activities that would encourage her school-aged client to open up at their next clinic visit. She has successfully utilized coloring pages and song lyrics of favorite artists to assist clients in engaging in the therapeutic process.

"I've learned how to make any game therapeutic because it's often the best way to connect and get kids talking about their problems and what's on their mind," Huffman said. "It's a way to help them see that therapy can be fun."

Four years ago, Vigo County School Corp. and Teen Court joined forces with the comprehensive clinic and Indiana State graduate students in the clinical mental health counseling program to provide therapy for students who have been expelled from school, as well as their families.

Bridget Roberts-Pittman, director of the Grosjean Clinic housed in University Hall and an associate professor of counseling in the Bayh College, said student referrals usually begin in November for conflict resolution services that help keep students in school as long as they successfully complete a required number of 50-minute sessions.

Open for four hours on Tuesdays and Thursdays, Roberts-Pittman said the clinic is unique because its therapy services "wrap around the whole family."

"Our students are invested in the families who are referred to us. At the clinic we provide students an opportunity to work with kids who can be pretty challenging and involve their families, which is often something our students will deal with in community settings after they graduate," Roberts-Pittman said. "As a training facility for counseling majors at Indiana State, students have a great opportunity to be challenged and grow in the field while under the observation of faculty members and professionals."

Each treatment room is equipped with an observation space, allowing parents and faculty members to view a child's therapy sessions.

"We empower the kids to create change in their own lives by changing their behavior," said Courtney Hull of Terre Haute. "We help give them skills they need, practical skills like anger management, to be successful."

Now a counselor at Hamilton Center Inc. in Terre Haute, Zachery Milam, a 2011 Indiana State graduate with a master's degree in clinical mental health counseling, has returned to his alma mater to serve as a supervisor in the clinic where he did his practicum in 2010.

"My first clinic experience was here at Indiana State, which was great because I was able to practice what I would be doing in the real world setting and do it under the supervision of professionals," Milam said.

There will be more to learn out in the workforce but the clinic gets students ready for real-world experiences using a multitude of therapies - individual, family, group and couples - to help clients of all ages identify the source of their troubles and set measurable goals to work through it.

"As we work in therapy with the kids, in particular, we help to show them that they have choices and can make better decisions," said Lucille Gardner of Jersey City, N.J. "The situations we see here are very real and very much what we will see in a career someday, so we're being equipped with skills now that we will need to thrive."

Writer: Betsy Simon, media relations assistant director, Office of Communications and Marketing, Indiana State University, 812-237-7972 or


Story Highlights

Graduate students in the Bayh College of Education's counseling program provide therapy services to Vigo County students in Indiana State University's Norma and William Grosjean Clinic during the academic year.

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