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College of Education > News and Publications > 2016: 01-03 news > Unique CEDAR Clinic serves dual purpose for students

Unique CEDAR Clinic serves dual purpose for students

CEDAR Clinic provides long-term counseling services to Penn State's undergraduate students while simultaneously training future counselors and counselor supervisors.

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Behind the glass doors of 100 CEDAR Building lies a unique center designed to help Penn State students overcome the various issues that affect their personal and academic lives while counselors-in-training grow in their professional skills. 

Established nearly 70 years ago, the Center for Education, Diagnosis And Remediation, or CEDAR Clinic, serves as both a counseling center for undergraduate students and a training center for master’s and doctoral students enrolled in Penn State’s counselor education program.

CEDAR Clinic
Javier Casado Pérez, a counselor education and supervision doctoral candidate, meets with a mock client in CEDAR Clinic.
“Our program is unique in that clients actually have three layers behind every counseling session they receive from a master’s level student,” said Katie Kostohryz, coordinator of counseling services for CEDAR Clinic and assistant professor of counselor education.

After undergraduate students are referred to CEDAR Clinic from Penn State's Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) or from other referral sources, they meet one-on-one with a master’s student or a doctoral student who is completing either a practicum or internship. Because the master’s students are counselors-in-training, sessions are observed and evaluated by their “supervisors” — doctoral students who are studying to be counselor supervisors. Then, faculty members evaluate the supervision provided by the doctoral students by recorded supervision sessions in the clinic as well. In the case of doctoral students, faculty are the single supervisors providing feedback for their growth and development.

“We have multiple levels of training going on which is really cool,” Kostohryz said. “There’s a lot of people there for the benefit of the client and really helping to see that they get the best care possible.”

Through the use of state-of-the-art technology, the three-tier system works seamlessly even though clients meet only one-on-one with a counselor.

“In 2013, CEDAR Clinic installed a high-end audio and video recording system,” Kostohryz said, adding that prior to receiving services, students must sign an informed consent form. “So, in addition to the faculty or doctoral students doing live observations behind a mirror, sessions also are recorded because faculty use the recordings to train the doctoral students. Then in the group training labs that we have, we can pull up video clips and share specific strengths or areas where they are struggling.”

Javier Casado Pérez, a counselor education and supervision doctoral candidate and former crisis counselor in New Jersey, said the recording system is beneficial in training both future counselors and future supervisors.

“It allows for your supervision to be more direct,” he said. “It is so much better because you as the counselor might not pick up on things that you’ve done wrong and when your supervisor watches it, they can tell you where you did well and where you need improvement.

“For supervisors-in-training, it is important that we watch the counselors and look at how they are doing their counseling, look at how to advance their practice whether it’s through interventions, the way the counselors think about their clients and so forth,” he said. “The technology the clinic has allows for us to expand how we can meet that requirement and gives us the opportunity to learn because it allows for deeper evaluation.”

“You can go to a counselor without something being ‘wrong’ with you. Everybody needs somebody to talk to and the clinic is a great resource to our campus and community, and they need to know about it. They need to know that they can use it and that they are not alone."

— Javier Casado Pérez, counselor education and supervision doctoral candidate

The clinic also incorporates technology as part of its intake procedures. When arriving for a session, clients use iPads to complete a weekly assessment, the Counseling Center Assessment of Psychological Symptoms, a feature that was added to the program in fall 2014 by the College’s Carrara Education Technology Center. Counselors-in-training then review the completed assessments before the counseling session begins.

“After a client completes the assessment, our software, Titanium, analyzes and puts the data into graphs,” Kostohryz said. “Before counselors walk into the room, they are able to see, week by week, where their client is at and see if there are any critical components such as signs of hurting oneself or others. Being able to have the opportunity to identify things before walking into a session has really helped to advance our training program.”

Each year, CEDAR Clinic trains more than 45 future counselors and supervisors. This year the program has 30 master’s students and nine doctoral students. Each counselor sees five clients per week and works with the same clients throughout the year or until the client meets the goals set forth by the counselor. Students enrolled in the school psychology graduate program also use the clinic as a training facility under the direction of Shirley Woika, associate professor of school psychology.

But it is not just Penn State students that CEDAR Clinic serves. Providing counseling services to the State College community is a goal Kostohryz has been working on for the past two years.

“When we first expanded into the community, we realized a limitation was having only a semester-long internship because the counselor would change mid-year,” she said. “So last year, I worked with Javier and we started a full-year internship program. Now, there are five students completing internships in the schools and community.”

One of those students works as a part-time counselor for the State College Friends School. The others work with different programs provided by the Centre County Youth Services Bureau (CCYSB), including Stormbreak, a residential facility for adolescent girls. Working with these organizations allows the counselors-in-training the opportunity to meet with clients from a different age group and background than what campus students provide, Kostohryz said. It expands their training opportunities.

“Building these community partnerships allows for us to bring mental health services to the community and serve a greater population,” said Casado Pérez, who serves as the the assistant coordinator of the internship program.

The clinic also recently joined with CAPS to participate in the Center for Collegiate Mental Health (CCMH) research team. A multidisciplinary, member-driven research network, CCMH is a group of mental-health research professionals that provides college students with accurate and up-to-date information on mental health.

Helping people through their difficult times is the idea behind the counseling profession and it is the purpose for having a clinic on campus, he said, explaining that clients come to the clinic for a variety of issues, including academic stress, anxiety, grief and loss, and relationship challenges with roommates, family members or significant others.”

“It’s important that Penn State students and the community know that CEDAR Clinic is here,” Casado Pérez said. “You can go to a counselor without something being ‘wrong’ with you. Everybody needs somebody to talk to and the clinic is a great resource to our campus and community, and they need to know about it. They need to know that they can use it and that they are not alone."

If you are a student who would like to speak with a counselor at CEDAR Clinic, call 814-863-0395 to request an appointment with an intake coordinator at CAPS who can refer you to CEDAR Clinic. If you are interested in outreach or collaborating with the CEDAR Clinic, contact Katie Kostohryz at or call 814-867-4918.

By Jessica  Buterbaugh (January 2016)