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Military Families Serve Too, USF Center Offers Help

USF Psychological Services Center

Family therapy, couples therapy, individual therapy, even weight management groups are all services that have been available at the USF Psychological Services Center for decades. Now, the center’s director, who served 10 years in the U.S. Army, is reaching out to the veteran and military families offering help.

“We know that there are veterans, for whatever reason, are still hesitant about seeking services in the VA,” said Jack Darkes, director of the University of South Florida Psychological Services Center.

Veterans and active-duty personnel both worry that they could lose their security clearance or a possible promotion if it becomes known they’re seeking psychological help.

But because USF’s clinic does not take insurance, Darkes said, a client’s records are confidential.

“Being basically a private pay, our records are under the control of the individual who pays for them. There is no third party payer involved and therefore anything that would happen in our clinic is confidential within the limits of the law,” Darkes said.

The law says therapists must report child or elder abuse or if their client is a threat to themselves or someone else. Everything else is confidential.

Another attractive option at the USF clinic is the price. Fees are on a sliding scale.

“All of our clients pay for their services on a sliding scale based on income,” Darkes said. “The lowest on our scale is $15 for an hour’s therapy, about 10 percent of what you’d pay in the real world, and the top end is about $50.”

Whether child or spouse, veteran or active-duty, the entire military family lives with the stress of deployments and the challenge of moving every few years. And there are plenty of veterans, retired military and active-duty families in the Tampa Bay area.

So to reach out, the USF Psychological Services Center has printed a flyer with the phrase, “Families Serve Too,” in large letters across the top. Darkes said the center is doing a “soft” roll out because they don’t know how many military families will use their services and if they’ll have the resources to cover the demand.

“If it’s a veteran who needs some help and isn’t sure they want to go to the VA, if it’s family that doesn’t have that option, If it’s children, spouse, any configuration. We’re really interested,” Darkes said.

The USF Psychological Services Center is staffed by about 30 psychology students under the supervision of licensed clinical psychologists and is open Monday through Thursday. To learn more about their services, you can call 813/974-2496 or go online at http://psc.usf.edu .

Bobbie O’Brien has been a Reporter/Producer at WUSF since 1991. She reports on general news topics in Florida and the Tampa Bay region.
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