The New Horizons Family Counseling Center represents a unique collaboration between the Community Counseling Program and the public schools--a partnership that is of tangible benefit to all parties involved. For referred clients and their families it affords a source of affordable (free) professional counseling services that might otherwise be cost-prohibitive. For the referring school systems, it provides an additional effective means for assisting students who are at risk for failure and for further involving the families of such students in the educational process. For graduate students in counseling it provides vital but often rare opportunities for clinical practica and internships in family counseling practice. For the Counseling Program and the School of Education, it makes possible the provision of a clinical emphasis in marriage and family counseling, and by facilitating regular dialogue with the public schools, ensures that the counselor education curriculum stays current to current need. For William & Mary as a whole, it directly supports a long-standing goal of service to the surrounding community.
In view of its many benefits, students at the New Horizons Family Counseling Center have numerous opportunities to learn and practice essential skills in interprofessional collaboration. In order to ensure effective treatment planning, they learn to establish effective communication with referring school personnel at the time of client referral. To coordinate family counseling with other community services being provided to client families, they learn to maintain effective, ongoing contact with the community professionals who are delivering those services.
Some students are actually assigned to specific schools where they learn to interact effectively with a variety of school personnel in coordinating their family counseling activities around school schedules. All students learn to accept and use the faculty and peer critique of their clinical activity provided during weekly individual and group supervision. At New Horizons, student mastery of skills in interprofessional collaboration is viewed as a key criterion for success both at the Center and in future family counseling practice.