The Pepperdine University Graduate School of Education and Psychology (GSEP) Community Counseling Center at the Irvine Graduate Campus has been awarded an $18,000 grant from the HealthCare Foundation of Orange County to support the Center's partnership with the Village of Hope, a transitional housing facility for nearly 200 homeless individuals.
Village of Hope opened in March 2008 and operates as a part of the Orange County Rescue Mission. The funds will sponsor the Pepperdine University Mental Health Collaborative, enabling additional research, supervision of trainees, and further development of a relationship with Orange County Rescue Mission Health Care Services; University of California, Irvine Department of Psychiatry; and Pepperdine University to better serve Orange County's homeless.
The six master's students and three alumna from the GSEP marriage and family therapy program working at Village of Hope have already provided more than 850 hours of counseling services over the last academic year. The therapists-in-training not only address problems such as domestic intimidation, substance abuse, depression, and anxiety, but they also delve into such complex issues as overcoming the effects of chronic poverty and homelessness as it affects an individual's identity. In addition, students use a multidisciplinary approach to act as client advocates, immersing themselves in the social services and probation systems, assisting clients with regaining custody of their children, helping clients access community resources, coordinating with medical staff and case managers, and negotiating relationships with other residents.
The services offered are consistent with the new legislation recently signed by Governor Schwarzenegger, which emphasizes the provision of mental health care services to California's underserved. Senate Bill 33 increases the educational requirements of marriage and family therapy programs by 25 percent, mandating additional clinical training with residents living on the margins.
John De Paola (MA '97), manager of the mental wellness program for the Orange County Rescue Mission and collaborator on the development of the Pepperdine University Mental Health Collaborative, is a GSEP alumnus.