Mental health clinic proving valuable for students and clients

Thursday, March 15, 2012


Corban University’s partnership with Salem Free Clinics is showing how two unique organizations can make a difference in Salem and beyond.

Students in Corban’s Master of Arts in Counseling program started seeing clients in September as part of their required internship program. The group of five started with a handful of clients each. Within six months, the students have provided more than 600 counseling hours to their clients. The free public mental health clinic is the only one of its kind in the mid-Willamette Valley.

Clients come to Salem Free Clinics for free medical assistance. They may also be referred for free counseling services, which are provided by Corban University students fulfilling their counseling internship requirements under the guidance of Clinical Director Michele Eave. 

“I have seen so much student growth,” Eave said. “I helped one student work with a client through a panic attack and then turned around and watched her use those techniques with that same client the following week.”

One of the biggest obstacles for a new counseling intern is earning the trust of their clients, Eave said. Once that happens, Eave said it changes the way the client is able to successfully engage counseling and apply it to their lives in practical ways.

“It changes their lives when the clients begin to trust,” Eave said. “We have to live in relationship with each other to grow and we are helping them learn there are people they can trust.”

The counseling interns are also learning that their textbooks are guides, but can’t replace the hands-on education they receive under Eave’s guidance and experience. 

“We are seeing a very diverse group of clients,” said intern Peter McKie. “We have clients that come in for one issue and then we learn they have a wide array of disorders. I like the challenge and ultimately seeing my clients reach their personal goals.”

As their internship hours continue to grow, so do their experiences and knowledge.

“I’ve learned that although clients may have similar backgrounds, you can’t treat them the same,” said Cindy Thomas, also an intern in the program. “You can’t use one technique on clients even though they may have the same symptoms or background.”

The students are required to complete 240 client-hours each through summer 2012. In August, a new group of five interns will begin to shadow the current group and transition to their new roles under Eave’s guidance.

The Corban University Master of Arts in Counseling program is currently the only one that offers an in-house internship opportunity. Typically, students must seek outside internships to fulfill state licensure requirements for client hours.

The Portland Road clinic is currently open on Mondays and Thursdays. In time, Eave hopes to see the clinic open four days per week.

“Our vision is to continue growing,” Eave said. “This clinic provides a real service to people in need in this community. We are restoring lives and that’s a true blessing for all of us.”

“God is constantly working through these students and it’s for Him that we are doing all of this,” Eave said. “We don’t have to be a direct ministry to the clients, but God is at work in everything we do.”

For more information about Corban’s Master of Arts in Counseling Program,  or call 503-581-8600.

For more information about Salem Free Clinics, visit

  • Clinical Director Michele Eave, talks about the day’s counseling sessions with her students.

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