Professional counseling available at Fairfield University's Family Counseling Center


Money need not be an issue for families seeking quality counseling services, thanks to the Family Counseling Center at Fairfield University. Part of the Marriage and Family Therapy Program offered through the Graduate School of Education and Allied Professions, The Center provides counseling for a wide range of issues, including depression, anxiety, marital and family conflict, divorce and drug and alcohol abuse, among others.

Dr. Ingeborg Haug, clinical director of the Center who works in private practice as well, says the clinical services offered to area residents are "highly professional and, I believe, of the highest calibre." She is delighted by a Bridgeport clergy's description of the program as "a gem not yet discovered," though she is hoping more and more individuals and families will soon discover and make use of the services.

Dr. Haug explained that the counseling is offered by a team made up of a faculty member who is a licensed family therapist with many years of clinical experience and six advanced graduate students. The faculty member serves as the supervisor while a graduate student leads the counseling session and the five other students observe. The sessions provide an excellent learning experience for graduate students, Dr. Haug says, while benefiting the clients as well. "Seven pairs of eyes and ears see and hear so much more than one," she said. "What one might miss, someone else might pick up."

Great care is taken, she emphasized, to follow strict ethical guidelines. A former chair of the Ethics Committee of the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy, she even insists that clients give written permission before the Center will leave messages about appointments on their home answering machines. The clinic also has its own private phone extension.

Stringent in its requirements, the Marriage and Family Therapy Program requires students to complete 54 credits while maintaining a 3.0 grade point average. They must complete a minimum of 500 hours of direct clinical service; receive 100 hours of group and individual supervision, including a minimum of 50 hours based on audio/video tape or live observation; and pass a comprehensive examination. Fairfield has contractual relationships with over 40 placement sites in 20 neighboring communities, providing the students with their supervised clinical experience.

All faculty members for the Marriage and Family Therapy Program are licensed in the State of Connecticut and are Approved Supervisors and Clinical Members of the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy.

The Center at Fairfield is located on the ground floor of Canisius Hall, which was completely renovated in 1994. The remodeling doubled the size of the former clinic and added state-of-the-art observational capabilities. The Center consists of a large observation room that adjoins a large family therapy room and two smaller therapy rooms as well as a large group instruction room, an office and waiting area. Two-way mirrors and closed-circuit audio and television allow instructors to observe activities in all four counseling rooms simultaneously or individually. Only with the client's approval are sessions audio- or video-taped for later critique.

The Center has access to other agencies, sharing resources and expertise. If Dr. Haug feels a client needs services beyond the Center, she will work with the team to find an appropriate and affordable agency. Dr. Haug usually has a Spanish-speaking therapist on her staff and says that the counseling sessions can run from $4 to $40, with most people paying in the range of $12 to $14.

Dr. Rona Preli is program director and department chair for the Marriage and Family Therapy Program. She holds a doctorate in marriage and family therapy from the Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University and has worked as a marriage and family therapist in a group private practice setting. She has published extensively on counseling issues, including marriage adjustment, multiculturalism, behavior disorders, alcoholism and discipline. She presently serves as a member of the Commission on Accreditation for Marriage and Family Therapy Education.

Dr. Haug holds a doctor of ministry degree from the Andover Newton Theological School, Department of Psychology and Clinical Studies and a certificate in Marriage and Family Therapy from the Blanton-Peale Graduate Institute in New York City. She has published extensively on ethical issues in family therapy as well as the inclusion of spirituality in psychotherapy practices. She holds a visiting professorship at Politechnical University in Quito, Ecuador where she established a program in family therapy. Dr. Haug travels to Quito each year to teach there.

Anyone interested in using the services of the Family Counseling Center may call (203) 254-4000, ext. 2306. The Center is closed for three weeks in August, but the office will accept calls for appointments.

For information on admission to study in the Marriage and Family Therapy Program, please call (203) 254-4000, ext. 2475.

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Media Contact: Nancy Habetz, (203) 254-4000, ext. 2647, nhabetz@fairfield.edu

Posted on July 1, 1999

Vol. 32, No. 36