Graduate psychology students at York University can now further their training through a state-of-the-art clinic right on campus.

Madalyn Marcus, who is one of the PhD students who will train at The York University Psychology Clinic, says the new facility is invaluable for the program.

“There are so few placements for us (students) in the community,” she said.

The clinic, which officially opened last week and offers mental-health services to York faculty, staff and people from the community, provides students with the opportunity to hone their skills in areas outside of their placements.

Clinic director Louise Hartley says there is a critical need for the facility, both for students and the public.

“We’re seeing cutbacks on all levels. Many hospitals have reduced their psychology departments and it’s increasingly difficult for students to get the clinical training they need,” she said.

In addition, the demand for mental-health services is greater than the resources available, Hartley said.

Part of the goal of the clinic is to make mental-health services more accessible to the general public and for that reason, counselling is available at a reasonable fee and clients do not require a doctor referral.

The clinic operates like a teaching hospital with PhD students counselling patients under the supervision of registered psychologists.

The 5,000-square-foot facility has 13 interview rooms. Hartley says the program is unique to York because the clinic runs year round and is not tied to course work.

And similar to a teaching hospital, the clinic is largely focused on research, incorporating clinical trials and leading edge treatment.

“When we learn something new, we’re able to get our students trained on it and start using that knowledge to help patients,” Hartley said.

Hartley expects the clinic will help further develop the university’s expertise in areas of research including autism and attention deficit disorder.

The Counselling Foundation of Canada has pledged $225,000 for a mentoring program that matches psychology students with students with Asperger syndrome; and the Alva Foundation has donated $100,000 to the clinic for autism research and treatment.

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