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August 03, 2015

Families all across the local areas have been left victims of this year’s flooding, but they do not have to get back up on their feet alone.

Dr. Meredith Nelson, director of Master of Science in Counseling psychology, is able to get psychology students involved with disaster relief recovery services because of her own connections with local and national disaster relief organizations.

“The local Red Cross contacted me because during Hurricanes Katrina, Rita, and Gustav, I was the head of volunteer mental health disaster relief through the Office of Homeland Security and the mental health coordinator for the Medical Reserve Corps (MRC),” Nelson said. “I also assisted the National and local Red Cross. So, whenever there’s a local disaster, I have willing counseling interns to volunteer for experience." 

The MSC interns, Aijha Benson, Lori Williams, Angie Pellerin, and Roan Flenniken, have been helping families in the Caddo and Red River Parishes with counseling and coordination services. While counseling consists of interns providing emotional support, the coordination from the MSC students helps families find a new refrigerator or air conditioning unit. The interns also look for other providers to help with necessary items needed by the families.

Nelson said some families have indicated that they wanted a follow-up with the students after suffering through the flooding events, but are now adapting fine from the services already provided to them. Nelson said that the nature of disaster relief work is typically short-term.

“We even have one intern providing support to a Spanish speaking-only family. This family has a daughter that is upset about losing their home, so the intern is doing short-term counseling with her under my supervision,” Nelson said. “This is a great help to our community and provides direct service learning to our students.” 

The Master of Science in Counseling program is designed to develop professional counselors and to prepare students for further graduate study in related doctoral programs. The program promotes scholarship, professionalism, excellence in counseling and psychology, and recognizes high attainment in the pursuit of academic and clinical excellence.

Professional counselors practice in a variety of settings including hospitals, substance abuse treatment centers, schools, colleges, universities, rehabilitation facilities, community counseling agencies, court systems, and other settings in which counseling or other mental health services are offered. Graduates are prepared throughout their program of study in regard to professional identity, social and cultural diversity, human growth and development, career development, helping relationships, group work, assessment, and research. It is recognized that advances in knowledge, skills, and technology within the profession require life-long continuing education for counselors. 

To learn more about the Masters of Science in Counseling program, visit, or contact Dr. Meredith Nelson at 318.797.5199 or

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