Partnership with Golisano helps FGCU counselors serve children, families

A new in-person partnership is helping families to get through the pandemic emotionally.

It’s not only helping parents and children but the counselors themselves.

Laura Watkins is taking on a whole new chapter in her life. The FGCU student is working toward her masters in mental health counseling.

“People being isolated, people very much and needing someone to talk to, to turn to for extra help,”” Watkins said.

As part of her education, Watkins now helps parents and young children learn new skills in groups.

It’s all done through a new partnership with the Golisano Children’s Museum and the Counseling Center at FGCU.

“Communication skills, how to express emotional needs appropriately, resiliency building self-confidence,” Watkins said.

The small groups at the museum are designed to make sure the families are doing OK emotionally.

“Bringing them together and be able to bounce ideas off of each other,” Watkins said.

The program not only builds up moms, dads and kids but even helps the counselors like Watkins learn how to do her new job in person.

“For some of our students, they have never seen a client face-to-face,” said Alise Bartley, who heads the FGCU Counseling Center.

Some of her interns have only provided therapy to others through the internet.

“The thing that is so challenging is we are sitting here right now, and you only see my body language from my chest up,” Bartley said. “And you are not really getting the whole feeling and flavor of what is going on with me.”

That’s why being in person for Watkins will help her with her career in the years to come.

“What is really special about doing it here is that they get to do that through play with the local exhibits here at the museum,” Watkins said.

Wink News anchors Lindsey Sablan and Corey Lazar are emceeing the museum’s key fundraiser Friday. It’s called “A Night at the Museum: The British invasion.”

Reporter:Corey Lazar
Writer:Jack Lowenstein
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