Friday, September 08, 2006

Day 9: The Counselling Unit’s Service Contracts

Entry written 7 September 2006:

The Counselling Unit has several mental health service delivery contracts, including ones with the Glasgow city schools (to provide counsellors) and in Doctors’ offices in various parts of central Scotland. Although they are not research grants, these programs appear to be quite successful. I just read a summary of 32 physician feedback forms that Lorna Carrick recently collected; these make it clear that the under-resourced front-line primary-doctors (in a rather impoverished nearby section of rural Scotland) love the counselling service are providing for their patients.

These contracts also provide various advantages, generating income to supplement what the Counselling Unit gets from the University and in particular creating more jobs for program graduates. The problem is, most of these are almost exclusively service contracts. There is very little of academic value going on in most of these programs, such as program innovation, student placements, or research. I think these programs are wonderful, but I find myself wondering if they should be spun off once they are set up and running, essentially privatizing them. That would free the Counselling Unit to develop further programs. Alternatively, I think there should be practice-based research going on as part of them. (However, I haven’t worked out yet how this would be funded; ideally, the research would be integrated into the treatment, so there would be little incremental cost.)

Meanwhile, more possibilities are appearing all the time, which is what leads me to feel at times as if everything is spinning out of control. I really feel the need for us to develop a coherent focus around which to organize what we do. I think this would also help us to communicate what we do to the rest of the Department of Educational and Professional Studies and the Dean.

I certainly feel that I am on a steep learning curve here, but it’s a relief to feel my creative energies finally kick back in after a month and a half of cleaning out my previous life and getting ready for this process. (Getting some writing done would be good, too!)

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