July 23, 2020
East Texas will soon have additional services for mental healthcare. The East Texas Medical Center (ETMC) Foundation recently awarded East Texas Baptist University a $100,000 grant to help meet the growing need for mental healthcare in Smith County. Plans include opening a community mental health clinic that will also offer the University’s Master of Arts in Clinical Mental Health Counseling program, located at 1301 S. Broadway in Tyler at the former American Cancer Society building. The Community Counseling Center will open later this fall, and Clinical Mental Health Counseling classes will be offered at the Tyler location beginning in January 2021.
“In light of the expanding mental health needs with the COVID-19 pandemic and social isolation, ETBU is honored and humbled to extend opportunities that serve the Tyler and Smith County communities through both counseling and graduate education,” ETBU President J. Blair Blackburn said. “The ETMC Foundation’s generosity towards this program at ETBU-Tyler is vital, and I couldn’t be more grateful for their support and partnership.”
The University’s two-pronged approach enables ETBU to address current needs for mental healthcare while providing for the growing demand for additional qualified and trained Licensed Professional Counselors (LPC) in the mental health field. Designed with flexibility and working professionals in mind, the graduate program features evening and online courses. All clinical hours required by the program can be completed through the onsite clinic. The program, designed with academic rigor and holistic attention to the intellectual, mental, emotional, spiritual, and physical development of the person, produces graduates who are educated, equipped, and empowered to provide professional counseling services in a variety of settings. These skilled mental healthcare professionals are trained to comprehensively understand counseling practice management and emerging counseling treatment and methodology trends.
“According to the data provided by the Texas State Board of Examiners of Professional Counselors, Smith County has a shortage of Licensed Professional Counselors compared to other counties in Texas with similar populations,” ETBU Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs Thomas Sanders said. “To address the present need for mental health services in Smith County, ETBU’s Community Counseling Center will provide no-cost counseling services to members of the community through local referral partners with counselors or graduate counselors-in-training.”
Counseling services will be provided by LPCs, practicum graduates, and graduate interns being supervised in their clinical training for licensure. Clients will be referred to the ETBU Community Counseling Center in Tyler through existing partnerships with Tyler Junior College, and local churches/ministries.
“The East Texas Medical Center Foundation is pleased to assist ETBU in their goal of increasing available counseling services to the East Texas area,” Executive Director of the ETMC Foundation Dawn Franks said. “This program comes at a critical time for many individuals seeking mental health services and helps to fulfill our mission to improve the health and quality of lives in the surrounding East Texas communities.”
The ETMC Foundation is a private foundation created by the sale of the East Texas Medical Regional Healthcare system to Ardent Health Services in 2018.