Compassion Clinic offers low-cost counseling to children, veterans

2016-105-9796Jan. 11, 2016 | Professional Counseling |

The Cannon-Clary College of Education’s professional counseling program is hosted a grand opening for its Compassion Clinic on Wednesday, Jan. 18, from 10 a.m.-noon. The Compassion Clinic is an outreach program that provides low-cost individual counseling, child play therapy, group counseling and couples counseling to residents of Searcy, White County and surrounding areas.

The Compassion Clinic offers services provided by students participating in the University’s professional counseling graduate program under the supervision of licensed counselors. The clinic began treating patients in August 2016. According to Dr. Jenene Alexander, director of the counseling program, the clinic’s primary focus is work with children, veterans and their families, and current armed services members, but it is equipped to work with a variety of needs in the local community. Responding to Gov. Asa Hutchinson’s Restore Hope initiative focused on addressing high incarceration and foster care numbers, Compassion Clinic has also committed to serving foster children and assisting in training for foster parents in the community.

“It’s definitely a mission, and you have to have a heart for it,” Alexander said. “I have a heart for the children in this community, and I have worked with veterans for several years. It’s really a great thing to have this clinic here at Harding.”

The concept for the clinic began after the program conducted a self-study and hosted a site visit as part of the accreditation process through the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs. The program was awarded CACREP accreditation — the gold standard for national counseling accreditation — and was prompted to examine its outreach efforts.

“In that process, they asked why we were not doing more of an outreach for a couple of populations in the Searcy area,” Alexander said. “One of those groups was children, and the other was the military.”

The Compassion Clinic aims to reach those groups in the community while also giving graduate students an opportunity to complete clinical hours on campus under the direct supervision of their professors. Gene Wright, associate professor of education and director of clinical experiences, said having the clinic offers two things of significant benefit.

“We get to provide our students with excellent real-world training and meet the needs of these community members,” Wright said. “Being able to say that we are a CACREP accredited program with a functional clinic serving our community is a win-win for everybody.”

Wright said he is excited about the excellent training for students and the opportunity to serve Searcy, White County and nearby areas through the Compassion Clinic.

“I can’t think of a more Christ-like calling than to reach out and work with people who are hurting and suffering — especially those that some in society may have said, ‘I don’t want anything to do with you,’” Wright said. “I think that is what makes professional counseling, as a job and as a discipline, so special. We always work with people from where they are at and build on their strengths.”

The Compassion Clinic operates Tuesdays from 2-8 p.m. Cost per session for most services is $10. For more information contact, Angela English, coordinator of clinic services and scheduling, 501-279-5926 or

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