Davis House, on the Humboldt State University campus in Arcata, CA, is a mental health clinic open to the public. It is used as a teaching facility for the Masters in Counseling students at HSU, so is staffed by counseling students, and supervised by a licensed Marriage Family Therapist (MFT). Clients are told up front that we are students, that the sessions will be taped (though seen only by the supervisor, and then rarely), and that cases are discussed in group supervision sessions (with identifying information omitted). In return, clients get counseling during the Fall and Spring semesters, and pay far less than they would to a licensed therapist. It works well for the less “clinical” issues, like test anxiety, or relationship problems, or basic anxiety, or basic depression, or . . . you get the idea. We don’t have the training for the more involved issues or ones that need more long-term therapy, so when it strays into the area of something like schizophrenia we refer them to experienced practitioners.
I’ve mentioned before I am a grad student working in the area of mental health. For the past year and a half, I’ve been working at Davis House, and it has been the most fulfilling part of my schooling. Every client I see is a new opportunity to learn something; from books, from advisers, and, more importantly, from the clients themselves. I have had the great honor of being trusted with the stories of their lives, and being witness as they put the pieces together and grow as individuals. Sometimes the match between client and counselor is not a good fit, so they go on to talk with other people. That is good. Sometimes the fit works, and then . . . wow! I am so thankful for the clients I’ve been allowed to work with.
HSU has built a beautiful five-story building that will house the Psychology Department and several other departments. And the open-to-the-public clinic will be moved into that building, and be ready for clients this August. They don’t know what they are calling it yet, or at least I have not heard. The current physical site of Davis House is a house, at the edge of the HSU campus; a house that was once owned by the Davis family before HSU acquired it. It is an older, wooden house, with calla lilies growing along the front porch, and rhododendrons growing along the driveway. The west side of the house, where most of the session rooms are, gets quite warm on sunny afternoons, while the east side remains chilly. Yet it feels cozy. Am glad I began my counseling career in those rooms. The sad thing is, after the clinic has moved out, HSU has decided to demolish the house. Not sure what they will put in its place.
This afternoon I had the priviledge of seeing the last client — ever — at Davis House. The staff is already packing boxes and taking the art prints off the walls. It will be exciting to see clients in the new building this Fall. But I will miss Davis House.