Counseling Costa Rica

By: Bailey Phillips

In conjunction with the general goals of the university, Dr. LaVelle Hendricks has gone above and beyond to develop and sustain a plan for globalization and study abroad programs within the Psychology, Counseling & Special Education department at A&M-Commerce. Two years ago Dr. Hendricks began working closely with the University of Costa Rica and established a strong partnership that would result in the very first international addiction and drug conference. Over 9 countries and 125 individuals attended the conference that was sponsored by the National Psychiatric Hospital of Costa Rica. Honduras, Nicaragua, Panama, Belize, and Costa Rica were all represented, and a number of American companies helped to underwrite the cost of the conference. Along with great international exposure, American companies seeing the name A&M-Commerce associated with the University of Costa Rica reflects well on our mission to promote interaction across boundaries and encourage the spread of ideas among our students. Since its inauguration, the conference has grown exponentially and the date for the 2nd annual conference has been set for December 3, 2013 in San Jose. Nicaragua is looking to replicate the conference in the near future.

In June 2013, Dr. Hendricks taught a class in Costa Rica and took a group of counseling students with him. Students from Commerce interacted with students from the University of Costa Rica and had the opportunity to visit several different alcohol and drug treatment facilities. Commerce students were able to meet with the director of IAFA (Instituto sobre Alcoholismo Y Farmacosependdncia), the governmental agency in Costa Rica that oversees drug treatment programs. “This was a wonderful experience for our students there in Costa Rica. They saw the Guru of Gurus while they were there,” said Dr. Hendricks. The trip was a great success, so much that Dr. Hendricks plans to return next year with a new group of students with the hope that students from Costa Rica will also be traveling to A&M-Commerce as part of a possible exchange program.

Without the concerted effort of faculty and study abroad advisors, such a rewarding experience would not have been possible. “Dr. Kenneth Clinton and the office of international studies have been such a pillar of strength to this program,” said Dr. Hendricks.

“Costa Rica was truly amazing and will forever be remembered as an enjoyable and educational trip. We got to visit drug rehabilitation centers and met some amazing people just like us. I encourage studying abroad to all students- it was a life changing experience,” said Victor Foreman, student.

A new group of students from Psychology, Counseling & Special Education will travel to San Jose in December to continue to grow the program.