The University of Texas-Pan American will be offering free counseling services to the community through the Counseling Assessment Preparation (CAP) Center located in the College of Education. The center opened in February and will provide individual, group and couple’s counseling for anyone ages three and older.

The center is an 8,000-square-foot center opened to provide the community and training opportunities for master’s level-education students who wish to become licensed professional counselors. Students are required to complete internship programs and practicum hours before graduation.

The center currently has seven student counselors and is serving approximately 30 clients. “Our clients will always depend on the number of students counselors we get here at one time,” said Dr. Yvonne Castillo, Assistance Clinical Professor.

Since its opening, student counselors assist clients three times a week at night and after classes. Each room is equipped with cameras covered with reflective film which allow professors conduct live observations of student’s interactions with clients. This is done as a form to provide students with guidance and feedback of their counseling techniques.

Castillo said offering these services is important for people in the Rio Grande Valley who are uninsured and cannot afford private sector counseling. “Most of the time families have Medicaid for their children, but not for themselves. Once they come they realize that they can really benefit from the services we offer too,” Castillo said.

The center will provide mental health services to anyone in the community, except for UTPA students, staff and faculty and individuals who are diagnosed as psychotic, suicidal or homicidal.

“This is a win-win situation because we will be able to provide a service to our community at no charge,” Dr. Santiago Silva, clinical director of educational psychology and licensed professional counselor said. “We can provide our students with that clinical experience they need in order to complete their graduate programs.”

The CAP center is located at the Educational Complex in Room EDCC 1.272 and is open Monday through Thursday, 1 p.m. to 9 p.m. and Friday 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. For more information contact the center at 956-318-5251.