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George Mason University Team to Offer Counseling Services to Katrina Victims


George Mason University Counseling and Development Program faculty and graduate students in the Counselors Without Borders Project will serve as the nation’s first counseling student assistance program for victims of Hurricane Katrina during their one-week assignment.

The students, fully supervised by a George Mason licensed faculty member, will provide counseling services to two Mississippi communities devastated by Hurricane Katrina.

The project has received logistical support from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), the Mississippi Mental Health Counselors Association and the Mississippi Department of Mental Health, and will help address the unmet mental health needs of the victims of Hurricane Katrina.

The program was created to help respond to the gap in service delivery related to current regulations for mental health providers that require licensure in a mental health discipline and minimum two-week stays.

The project will serve as a national pilot program that aims to more effectively address the underserved mental health needs in the Gulf Coast, primarily focused on the psychological devastation associated with the loss of home, family, possessions, jobs, community and security.

Dr. Fred Bemak, professor of counseling and development and director of the Diversity Research and Action Center at George Mason, is leading the university’s participation in the program.

“This program is truly the first of its kind and is being watched closely by other programs around the country to see if similar university-based projects may be developed and implemented. We are thankful to our university community for supporting us in our efforts and eager to get started making a difference in the lives of the Gulf Coast Hurricane Katrina victims,” he said. 

The students will travel to two Gulf Coast communities in Mississippi from Nov. 17-23 to provide these counseling services. Students will be housed in local churches and will receive meals from the local community.

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