Campus News

‘Holistic care’: ASPIRE Clinic offers integrated, counseling to campus, local communitie

UGA employees and community members looking for professional help on a budget may find an answer at the ASPIRE Clinic.

ASPIRE, which stands for Acquiring Strategies for Personal Improvement and Relationship Enhancement, offers therapy for individuals, couples and families as well as counseling services for those needing help with finances, nutrition, home design and legal issues. The first visit is free, and prices for subsequent sessions are set on a sliding scale from $15-$65 according to income, although exceptions can be made for needy clients.

“We have implemented a holistic care model that offers opportunities for improvement and intervention in several areas of someone’s life simultaneously,” said Megan Ford, clinic coordinator. “We’re trying to increase the integration of these services and create an efficient, effective way of dealing with the problems in people’s lives. Problems don’t exist in isolation, and when issues present themselves in our lives, they can impact some other areas as well.”

For example, couples or families with money problems may need to focus on both their finances and their relationships, which often means one appointment with a therapist and another with a financial counselor. At ASPIRE, both can happen at once.

“Using ASPIRE Clinic’s unique approach, couples have the opportunity to work with a financial professional and a therapist in same room at the same time for the same price,” Ford said. “So you’re really finding an innovative way of dealing with that problem. If it’s a problem with finances in your marriage, you have both professionals there to help you.”

As a way to both keep costs down and give students valuable experience, ASPIRE employs upper-level students in child and family development; housing and consumer economics; foods and nutrition; textiles; merchandising and interiors; and law, all supervised by faculty mentors.

“There are huge benefits to what we can do in a training environment. Service providers have the latest knowledge to help couples and families, they are supervised, whereas at a private practice they may not be collaborating as much,” Ford said. “We do three things at the clinic: Teaching, research and service, which mimics the same mission as the university. We’re trying to train these professional to go out to their future lives and careers with the skills to reach out to others and be more collaborative.”

Integrating less-common services like home design is another unique approach. These services can, for example, help clients prepare their homes for a new baby or an elderly relative moving in.

“Another example is nutrition and health in couples, families and individuals,” Ford said. “The questions we sometimes ask ourselves are, ‘Does this family have the budget to facilitate healthy eating and healthy living? Do they spend time during meals to help improve relationships in the family? That’s where the home design element can come into play.”

To make an appointment, visit or call 706-542-4486.