Training the next generation of mental health counselors

Training the next generation of mental health counselors

By Terri Speirs, Director of Community Relations

October 14, 2019 – The Des Moines Pastoral Counseling Center is pleased to welcome two new graduate practicum students for the 2019-2020 academic year. Erin Moskal is a graduate student in the clinical mental health program at Drake University. Emily Yen is a graduate student in the social work program at the University of Iowa. Erin and Emily form the latest cohort in a unique professional formation program that offers an intensive, structured group training experience.

“We are thrilled to welcome Erin and Emily,” said Dr. Christine Dietz, who directs the training program and is also a licensed clinical social worker and spiritual director at the Center. “The training program adds another layer of richness to the Center’s culture of learning as we all learn from one other.”

The Center’s Graduate Training Program was founded in 1980 to help address a mental health workforce need in the state of Iowa, and since then has graduated more than 125 mental health providers with an expanded knowledge base.

But the program isn’t for the faint of heart! The students are embedded into the very heart of the Center’s work through the following expectations:
• Ten-hour orientation process prior to beginning their placements.
• One-hour weekly of individual supervision and 1 hour of group supervision.
• One to two hours weekly of group case discussions with Center clinical staff.
• Required to present all intakes to supervisory staff.
• Required to present at least one case conference to the entire body of clinical staff.
• Required to participate in three didactic seminars (becoming a therapist, trauma-informed counseling, and LGBTQ-affirmative counseling) as well as , an assessment seminar and an integrative seminar.

“The Center takes seriously a responsibility to do our part to prepare the next generation of counselors,” said Jim Hayes, executive director. “With Iowa being in almost last place in terms of mental health workforce availability, we are extremely grateful to our donors who make it possible to offer our unique training program to graduate students seeking a rigorous educational experience.”

The Center’s training program has earned a reputation as one of very best, and one-of-a-kind in terms of the quality and depth of the learning. The Center invests more than $50,000 annually into the program. It is only possible due to the Center’s broad-base of community support as the students do not pay tuition, and their respective academic institutions do not reimburse the Center for the costs associated with the training.

For more information about the Center’s training program:

The Des Moines Pastoral Counseling Center is a nonprofit organization with a mission to walk with people through counseling and education to find hope and healing, and live a fulfilling life. Annually, the Center serves more than 2,600 individuals through holistic mental health counseling and other clinical services (including nearly 700 children and adolescents). Additionally, the Center serves more than 2,400 individuals annually through mental health education and training services.

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