Donna Roy, MA, Clinical Director of M.E.T.A. Counseling Clinic, is a pioneer of unorthodox counseling methodology. Donna’s career began in nonprofit management and ESL/cross-cultural training before she jumped into the personal change field via a somewhat circuitous route. After recognizing her dissatisfaction with her teaching and mentoring work and having had an epiphany about going back to school to become a counselor, she trained for a number of years in experiential dreamwork, earth-based change processes, and Hakomi mindfulness-based psychotherapy. At the GSE, Donna expanded on these topics and gained experience as a counseling professional in the Clinical Mental Health program.
As a clinical supervisor today, she emphasizes the importance of mindful, experiential therapy approaches and accessibility for clients. Service is at the heart of Donna’s work: using her own experience and knowledge to create opportunities for interns and graduate students, which in turn become opportunities for them to provide otherwise inaccessible services to their clientele.
What has proven to be the most useful thing you learned while at the GSE?
The reinforcement that my personal and professional gifts have value and are welcomed and recognized. For example, David Capuzzi (the Counseling Department head when I applied) invited me to write a chapter on Hakomi Body-Centered Psychotherapy for a textbook used at PSU in the Theories and Interventions class. That he, and by association, PSU, valued a nontraditional methodology and a somewhat unconventional student, made me feel welcomed and respected, and reinforced my tendency to go toward what I believed in. I try to bring this leadership attitude and clinical orientation into my work today with supervisees and clients.
What is the accomplishment in your career that you are most proud of?
Integrating the developing and running of a successful private counseling and consulting practice, a training organization (M.E.T.A., LLC), and an affordable clinic (M.E.T.A. Counseling Clinic). I am proud that all these entities are grounded in mindful, experiential therapy approaches and provide meaningful, financially accessible and customized services to clients, students, and supervisees.
The GSE strives to make an impact on our community through the work of our students, faculty, and alumni. What does the term “impact on the community” mean to you?
It means applying knowledge and skills—our professional resources and gifts—to needs and opportunities in the community in ways that reduce barriers and increase quality, availability, and accessibility of counseling services. I have done this by creating an affordable training clinic that offers internships for grad students in graduate counseling programs and for registered interns seeking state licensure. This clinic impacts the skill-building options for local counselors-in-training. It also increases access to state-of-the-art counseling services for people who may not be able to afford private counseling and may not be eligible for free counseling programs.
This means creating systems that are self-sustaining and mission-driven. The M.E.T.A. Counseling Clinic is based on a business model that emphasizes financial sustainability, mission orientation, and commitment to excellence through balancing of costs and fees, client responsiveness, and integration of state-of-the-art methods.
How do you try to incorporate this concept into your daily work?
I seek and respond to intern and client feedback. Mindfulness is integrated into supervision and clinical services. At M.E.T.A., we have more supervision in the clinic than is required and encourage both autonomy and agency in clinic interns. I maintain diversity in my professional commitments—counseling individuals and couples, supervising interns, and training professionals in the field.
What advice would you give students currently enrolled or recently graduated?
Get as much direct experience being with people and sitting in a caring, helping role as possible. Get good post-grad supervision and training. Factor self-care into your career plan.