George Mason Team to Offer Counseling Services in Gulf Coast Communities Hit by Hurricane Katrina

Posted: November 18, 2005 at 1:00 am, Last Updated: November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

By Lori Jennings

George Mason’s Counseling and Development Program faculty and graduate students in the Counselors without Borders Project will serve as the nation’s first counseling student assistance program for victims of Hurricane Katrina.

During their one-week assignment, the students, fully supervised by a George Mason licensed faculty member, will provide counseling services to two Mississippi communities.

Fred Bemak
Fred Bemak

Fred Bemak, professor of counseling and development and director of the Diversity Research and Action Center in the College of Education and Human Development at George Mason, is leading the university’s participation in the program.

The project has received logistical support from the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the Mississippi Mental Health Counselors Association and the Mississippi Department of Mental Health, and will help address the unmet mental health needs of the victims of Hurricane Katrina.

The pilot program was created to help respond to the gap in service delivery related to current regulations for mental health providers that require licensure in a mental health discipline and minimum two-week stays.

The project will primarily focus on the psychological devastation associated with the loss of home, family, possessions, jobs, community and security.

“This program is truly the first of its kind and is being watched closely by other programs around the country to see if similar university-based projects may be developed and implemented. We are thankful to our university community for supporting us in our efforts and eager to get started making a difference in the lives of the Gulf Coast Hurricane Katrina victims,” Bemak said before the team headed south.

The group left on Thursday, Nov. 17, and will return Nov. 23. Students will be housed in local churches and will receive meals from the local community.

The George Mason Counseling and Development Program trains master’s and doctoral students in counseling. Its mission emphasizes social justice, multiculturalism, advocacy and leadership.

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