Grad Students Organize Contest to Refurnish the Center for Psychological Services

Posted: February 18, 2011 at 1:02 am, Last Updated: May 18, 2011 at 2:55 pm

By Aisha Jamil

Robyn Mehlenbeck, director of the George Mason University Center for Psychological Services, was looking for a low-cost way to refurnish and decorate the center, which is located off campus in Fairfax City.

The center, which is part of the Department of Psychology, is a nonprofit training facility for students in the clinical psychology doctoral and school psychology master’s program and provides therapy and assessment services to children, adolescents and adults.

“We provide services to the community. I have wanted to upgrade the center to make it more inviting, professional and comfortable since I started here at the end of June 2010,” Mehlenbeck says. “However, budget issues preclude my ability to purchase furniture for the treatment rooms through the typical avenues.”

Mehlenbeck discussed the issue with the students, and graduate psychology students Sarah Erb and Adam Miller stepped forward.

“I started an art committee for the center.  However, it quickly felt overwhelming to revamp the interior of the entire center.  I knew we had to get more students involved,” Erb says. “That’s when I had a revelation: ‘Let’s make it a contest!’”

According to the contest’s official rules, each team of clinical or school psychology students, sponsored by a faculty member, will be assigned one or two rooms to decorate. Students can solicit donations, either of items or money, which will be used to purchase furniture. Although the prize hasn’t yet been revealed, “We can guarantee that the winning prize will be awesome!” Miller says.

Students are encouraged to be creative, but also to consider the therapeutic implications in each room’s design, as all rooms are used for testing and treatment. For example, calm colors and soothing paintings are often preferred in these types of settings.

The contest officially began Monday, Feb. 7; an end date has not been set. Students will be judged on creativity, professionalism, effort and budget (the lowest overall cost earns points).  If the students show some sort of community involvement, they will be given extra points.

“Because our clinical psychology program has historically emphasized the importance of community in our training, we strive to integrate this into every aspect of our training as graduate students,” Erb says.

The center is located 1.5 miles from the Fairfax Campus at 10340 Democracy Lane, Suite 202. Although services are provided by graduate students, the students are supervised by experienced licensed clinical psychologists in the Department of Psychology, who excel in their respective fields. The center provides services at a reduced cost, and deals with a wide range of issues, including depression, anxiety, sleep disorders and other problems.

For more information, contact Mehlenbeck or visit the Center for Psychological Services website.

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