This article was written for the Spring 2016 issue of The Univeristy of Tulsa Alumni Magazine. For more alumni stories, visit TUAlumni.com.
Based on research of community needs, TU’s True Blue Neighbors Behavioral Health Clinic was formed to provide an experiential learning environment for psychology graduate students while providing free services to the Kendall-Whittier neighborhood and a handful of agencies that require a mental health resource.
The facility, which opened near campus in 2015, offers therapy for individuals and families as well as testing for children referred by Tulsa Public Schools to determine what the underlying cause may be for academic issues.
However, the clinic was unable to serve some students from the nearby Kendall-Whittier Elementary School because many of the children are Hispanic and are just learning English or have parents who only speak Spanish.
That’s where Jennifer Coronado (BA ’15) comes into the picture. Coronado grew up in the neighborhood and attended Kendall-Whittier. Her native language is Spanish, and her undergraduate degree is in psychology.
“I love this community. I’m glad I can help open doors at the clinic to Spanish-speaking clients,” she said. “I chose psychology as a profession because I wanted to find ways to help people live better lives. Sometimes, someone’s psychological state affects their physical state.”
The Behavioral Health Clinic offers therapy based on the clients’ needs. Coronado said the graduate students, who are supervised by TU professors, employ empirically supported treatments such as cognitive behavioral therapy that teaches clients to deal effectively with stressors, modify their thoughts and focus on their strengths. They also administer IQ tests to children and show them ways to cope with learning disabilities or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.
“There’s been a high level of interest already. So far, we’ve been able to see everyone with only a short waiting list, mostly for Spanish-speaking clients. Now, we’ll be able to address their needs efficiently,” Coronado said.
She added that the teachers at Sequoyah Elementary and Kendall-Whittier Elementary, just a few blocks from the clinic, appreciate the university’s presence in the neighborhood. “TU volunteers and facilities mean increased resources for the school,” Coronado said.
And simply having a world-class college next door has opened the minds of the neighborhood children. “The children see the university as something attainable,” she said. “TU serves as a sort of role model, an example of how an organization can positively impact an entire community.”