To schedule an appointment, please call 205-996-2414

Welcome to the UAB Counseling Clinic

The Counseling Program in the UAB School of Education offers affordable counseling services to the residents of Jefferson County and the Greater Birmingham Metro Area through its Community Counseling Clinic. Well-trained graduate students, supervised by experienced faculty members, conduct all counseling sessions. Our counselors are compassionate and effective, and our services are collaborative, goal-oriented, and personalized for each client. Since our clinic is also a teaching center, all counseling sessions are recorded so that the Counseling program faculty can review and assess client progress, monitor the need for medical services, and evaluate clinical interventions.

Meet with a Counselor
To schedule an appointment, please call 205-996-2414

The UAB Community Counseling Clinic offers counseling services to members of the Greater Birmingham area. Students enrolled at UAB who seek the services of a counselor are encouraged to email the UAB Counseling and Wellness Center or call 205-934-5816. Employees of UAB who seek counseling services may contact the UAB Employee Assistance and Counseling Center by email at or via phone at 205-934-2281.


(ages 3 and older * after completing a screening process)

Adolescents (ages 12 and older)



Therapy Offered

Children's Play Therapy




UAB's Monthly GROW group meetings


Fees are assessed on a sliding scale—from $10 per individual session to no more than $30 per session.

  • What is counseling?

    Broadly defined, counseling is a professional relationship that empowers diverse individuals, families, and groups to accomplish mental health goals (American Counseling Association [ACA], 2010). Our clinic offers counseling services that incorporate principles of psychotherapy, human development, learning theory, dysfunctional behavior, and group dynamics to help individuals who face challenges impairing their social, occupational, or academic performance (American Mental Health Counselors Association [AMHCA], 1999).

  • What type of problems can we help you with?

    The Community Counseling Clinic staff provides affordable counseling services to individuals and groups experiencing a range of mental health challenges such as anxiety, depression, stress, relationship conflicts, grieving and loss, recent recovery from substance abuse, self-esteem issues, adjustment problems, job loss, parent and child conflicts, school and/or studying problems, and time management problems.

  • What services do we not provide?

    The Community Counseling Clinic does not offer assessments for disability or legal issues (e.g., custody, capacity), treatment for eating disorders, treatment for severe substance abuse or dependence, emergency services or frequent or severe crises, medication management, neuropsychological evaluation, intensive day-treatment and partial hospitalization services, or treatment for problems associated with a high risk of involvement in the legal system (e.g., violent or criminal behavior).

  • How much does counseling cost?

    Because we are committed to enhancing the accessibility and affordability of mental health treatment in Jefferson County, counseling sessions at the Community Counseling Clinic are assessed on a sliding scale—from $5 per individual session to no more than $30 per session. Fees are determined by income and family size.

  • Do you see UAB students or UAB employees?

    The Community Counseling Clinic provides services only to members of the larger community. Students enrolled at UAB who seek the services of a counselor are encouraged to email the UAB Counseling and Wellness Center or call 205-934-5816. Employees of UAB who seek counseling services may contact the UAB Employee Assistance Resource Center at or 205-934-2281.

  • What should I expect from counseling?

    We use the initial session for intake and orientation. During that first meeting, you will be asked to complete an intake packet and to speak individually with a counselor. You and your counselor will discuss your reasons for seeking counseling and he or she will gather information for the purpose of creating a targeted service plan. Although we allot 90 minutes for the initial session, all subsequent sessions are 50 minutes. Anyone who seeks counseling at our clinic can expect to receive caring, responsive, and supportive services delivered by counselors who are sensitive to a diverse clientele and committed to professional excellence and ethical conduct.

  • How many counseling sessions will I need before I feel better?

    The number of counseling sessions varies according to each person’s unique needs and goals. One study reported that 25% of all clients seeking counseling expected recovery after two sessions, 44% after four sessions, and 62% after six sessions (Swift & Callahan, 2008). Expectations of rapid improvement can prove frustrating, however, given that for half this group 13 to 18 sessions are needed for clients to achieve lasting change (Hansen, Lambert, & Forman, 2002). Some clients leave counseling prematurely because resolutions could not be achieved within their unrealistic time frame. Reducing symptoms and working toward lasting change takes time. Expectations for rapid recovery can actually undermine a client’s progress. We recommend that you engage your counselor at the outset in an open and collaborative dialogue about the duration of services. Once the two of you have clearly identified your goals and defined success in terms specific to you, your counselor will be better able to gauge how much time may be needed for you to reach your goals.

  • Once I feel better, should I keep coming?

    Often clients will feel better after only a couple of sessions, but it is important to distinguish between feeling better and developing enduring lifestyle changes. Progress born of counseling is often discussed in three phases. The first phase of recovery (remoralization) creates a renewed feeling of hope, an increased sense of wellbeing, and the recognition that one’s problems are indeed surmountable. The next phase of recovery (remediation) reactivates coping skills and introduces new techniques for managing stressful situations and overcoming symptoms. The final phase of recovery (rehabilitation) reinforces and further develops characteristics within the client’s personality to help insure a lasting change (Howard, Lueger, Maling, & Martinovich, 1993). Although improvement in counseling typically follows this pattern, rates of improvement may vary across individuals given their differing goals and the variety of problems they present (Barkham, et al, 1996). The re-energized feeling a client experiences after a productive session may mark a welcome improvement; lasting change, however, often takes longer to achieve. Regrettably, some clients end counseling too soon because they misinterpret renewed feelings of hope as recovery. We encourage clients to speak openly with their counselors about a realistic timetable for recovery and to continue services beyond those first few sessions so they can realize the full benefits of symptom reduction and lasting change.

  • Are training clinics safe and effective?

    Although the outcomes in training clinics like ours are comparable to those in other outpatient settings (Callahan, Swift, and Hynan, 2006), the rates of improvement may be slower (Callahan and Hynan, 2005). In order to maximize positive change and minimize the risk of harm in training clinics, experts recommend increased supervision, continuing education, and peer consultation. They also advise supervisors to monitor the therapeutic progress of their trainees’ clients, to make referrals when appropriate, and to use objective assessment methods (Nolan, Strassle, Roback, and Binder, 2004; Swift et al, 2010). All of our trainees have demonstrated competence in their graduate coursework, passed a national qualifying examination, and are closely monitored by a team of experienced faculty members.

  • Why is taping required?

    Since advanced graduate students provide all clinical services at the Community Counseling Clinic, videotaping is used to enhance the learning experience while also ensuring quality of care. Providers may increase supervision, offer continuing education opportunities, engage in peer consultation, monitor therapeutic progress, make referrals when a higher level of care is indicated, and use objective assessment methods to guide interventions in order to maximize positive change and minimize the risk of harm (Nolan, Strassle, Roback, and Binder, 2004; Swift et al, 2010). Videotaping ensures the quality of our services by allowing supervisors to pause and replay the key moments of all counseling sessions. Through videotaping, trainees receive practical feedback from their supervisors and peers, which increases the safety and effectiveness of their services.

  • Will my information be shared with anyone?

    The Community Counseling Clinic regards confidentiality as a top priority. Clinic policy follows the privacy rule outlined by the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) of 1996, which requires that all protected health information be kept confidential. There are a few circumstances, however, where your counselor is required by law to break confidentiality. According to the Alabama Code of 1975, mental health professionals are required to report instances of child abuse or neglect to the Jefferson County Department of Human Resources.  Additionally, your counselor is mandated to contact law enforcement whenever a client is deemed to pose an imminent risk to self or others. Lastly, your counselor is required to comply with all court ordered requests to disclose confidential health information. We recommend that you discuss any questions you may have about these mandatory reporting requirements with your counselor during the first session.  

  • What should I do in case of an emergency?

    The Community Counseling Clinic does not provide crisis counseling services or after-hours counseling by telephone. In the event of a mental health crisis, please call the Crisis Center of Birmingham at 205-323-7777 or visit its website. If your call concerns suicide and the crisis line is busy, please call the National Suicide Hotline at 1-800-273-TALK (1-800-273-8255). In the event of a medical emergency, please call 911 for immediate attention.

  • Mission

    The Community Counseling Clinic at the University of Alabama at Birmingham aims to increase access to outpatient mental health counseling services in Jefferson County, to provide an innovative educational experience for the UAB graduate counseling students, and to operate a flexible research lab capable of accommodating various interests and funding opportunities.
  • Vision

    To become an integral service provider of outpatient counseling services in Jefferson County and to become an exemplar in the counseling profession through innovations in research, practice, teaching, and clinical training.
  • Values

    Accountability—We have a duty to provide responsible and ethical services, to create an effective training site for graduate counseling students, and to conduct innovative and ethical research.
    Affordability—We provide effective services at low cost to increase community access to outpatient counseling services.
    Caring and Responsive Service—We strive to exceed the expectations of our clients and to create a supportive, responsive, and calming atmosphere where all involved are treated with empathy, dignity, and respect.
    Collaboration—We seek to build collaborative partnerships with community providers and research entities.
    Commitment to Professional Excellence—We offer evidenced-based counseling interventions informed by current research and continuously strive toward improvement.
    Data—We use data to improve the effectiveness of services and to guide our decisions.
    Diversity—We value individual differences and provide a multicultural and sensitive environment free from discrimination and inequity.
    Growth—We value the professional growth of counselors as they develop from novices into experts with the corresponding knowledge, skills, and disposition.
    Integrity—We value honesty, diligence, trustworthiness, moral reasoning, and ethical conduct.
    A Student-centered Approach—We strive to prepare counselors who can support the development of their clients from adolescence through adulthood.
    Standards—We align our training standards with the established guidelines of the Council for the Accreditation of Counseling and Related Programs (CACREP).
    Training—We strive to enhance the training experience through technology and innovative supervision.

  • Philosophy

    Mental illness leads to impairments in thinking, behavior, and interpersonal functioning that can adversely affect our wellbeing, compromise our performance at work or school, and negatively impact our personal relationships. The goal of our clinic is to promote wellbeing through therapeutic interventions designed to enhance emotional and psychological health.

  • Strategic Plan


    The Community Counseling Clinic at the University of Alabama at Birmingham aims to increase access to outpatient mental health counseling services in Jefferson County, to provide an innovative educational experience for the UAB graduate counseling students, and to operate a flexible research lab capable of accommodating various interests and funding opportunities.

    Goal 1: Quality Enhancement

    Expand to Children under 12 (new faculty hired for AY 15-16)
    Offer Educational Testing Services (goal removed after investigation)
    Build a Clinical Assessment Inventory (expand to include child, couples, and family assessments) 
    Enhance MCF Treatment (faculty hired; curriculum proposal approved by ADCOM) Therapeutic Assessment (completed)

    Goal 2: Optimized Learning Environment

    Establish Electronic Health Record System (approvals acquired; cost sharing agreement in process)
    Increase Faculty Participation (completed)
    Monitor Learning Outcomes (initial process complete; revision in progress)

    Goal 3: Clinical Research

    Secure External Funding for Research and Training
    Promote Outcome-based Clinical Research 

    In Progress
    • Department-funded CALM pilot study; plans for NIH proposal 

    In Development
    • Department pilot study proposed
    • NIH R21/Early Career Proposal 
    • Pilot proposal with Midfield City Schoolsto be submitted for President's/ Dean's funding 

    Research Personnel
    • New faculty hired for AY 15-16 with Clinic research expectations

    Executive Summary: Funding, Impact, and Future Priorities

    Funding Sources
    • School of Education: Director's Salary, Clinic space 
    • Department of Human Studies: Technology, Furniture, Assessment, Program 
    • Lab Fees: Maintenance 
    • Client Fees: Office supplies

    Impact to Date
    • 579 unduplicated clients (average of 112 served per year) 
    • Collaborations: Psychiatric Nursing, Kinesiology, Parker High School, Health Education, Genetic Counseling, Midfield School District
    • 120 Counseling Education Program students received training in the clinic 
    • 64 unduplicated referral sources

    Future Priorities
    • Increase referrals from UAB sources 
    • Increase collaborations with UAB colleagues 
    • Expand the range and impact of services
  • Yusen Zhai

    Yusen Zhai, Ph.D.
    Executive Director and Faculty Supervisor

    Dr. Yusen Zhai is an Assistant Professor of Counseling and Director of the UAB Community Counseling Clinic at the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB). Prior to that, he served as the lead clinic supervisor in the Edwin Herr clinic. He completed his Ph.D. in Counselor Education and Supervision at The Pennsylvania State University. His research focuses on the impact of infectious diseases on mental health and well-being, social determinants of health, multicultural and social justice issues, and career development. He has experience in clinical supervision as well as mental health, career, and substance abuse counseling, working with clients from diverse backgrounds. He has focused on employing research, teaching, and counseling to inform health policies and clinical practices to address health disparities and educational inequalities.
  • Shannon McCarthy

    Shannon McCarthy, Ph.D.
    Assistant Professor and CACREP Accreditation Liaison

    Dr. Shannon McCarthy earned a doctorate of philosophy from University of Florida. She has taught courses in teacher education, family, youth, and community sciences, and counselor education at the University of Florida. Dr. McCarthy has had extensive training and clinical experience in counseling in community mental health and medical settings as well as marriage and family therapy. Her research focuses on counselor development/ training, the effect of mental illness on families and family-school collaboration, particularly the effect and improvement of family systems training for school counselors and other school-based personnel. She will teach graduate courses in our counselor education program and continue to develop her research concerning families’ involvement in schools and family systems.
  • Dwayne White

    Dwayne White, Ph.D.

    Dwayne White was born and raised in Miami, FL. He is a graduate of Auburn University in Auburn, AL where he earned a doctoral degree in Counselor Education and Supervision. Dwayne is a licensed professional counselor (LPC), Nationally Certified Counselor (NCC), and a Certified Clinical Mental Health Counselor (CCMHC), and a past NBCC Minority Fellowship Doctoral Fellowship recipient. Dwayne is committed to serving, supporting, and engaging queer and transgender Black, Indigenous, People of Color (BIPOC) activists and community members through his professional activities. His primary research interest centers on the wellness and liberation of queer and transgender BIPOC. Dwayne’s secondary research interests are related to exploring the use of humanistic and post-modern approaches in counseling and counselor education.
  • Dayna Watson

    Dayna Watson, Ph.D.
    Faculty Supervisor

    Dayna Watson completed a Ph.D. in Counseling and Counselor Education from the University of Florida. She has extensive experience and training in clinical supervision and mental health counseling, specializing in counseling children, adolescents, and young adults. Dr. Watson’s clinical areas include play therapy techniques and creative interventions with children and adolescents, group therapy with young children, and cognitive therapy. Her research interests include issues of social class and poverty in mental health counseling, community-school collaboration, and counseling student development.

Finding the Clinic
The UAB Community Counseling Clinic is located in Room 117 of the Education and Engineering Complex (formerly the Business and Engineering Complex), which is itself located at 1150 10th Ave S. The easiest entrance to the Clinic is on the side of the building facing 10th Ave S. at the intersection of 10th St S.  

Turn-by-Turn Directions
From I-65 Southbound:

  • Take exit 259A for 6th Ave
  • Merge onto 6th Ave S
  • Turn left onto 8th St S
  • Turn left onto 10th Ave S
  • The Education and Engineering Complex is located on the left, across from Glen Iris School

From I-65 Northbound

  • Take exit 259 to merge onto 8th Ave S/University Blvd
  • As you merge with University Blvd., stay in the right hand lane.
  • Turn right onto 13th St S
  • Turn right onto 10th Ave S
  • The Education and Engineering Complex is located on the right, across from Glen Iris School

Community Counseling Clinic 
1150 10th Ave S
Room 117
Birmingham, Alabama 35294-4460
Driving Directions

There are 2 designated spots for Clinic clients within lot 15R. The entrace to lot 15 R is located at the intersection of 10 Avenue S and 10th Street S. There is also parallel parking available along 10th Avenue South.

Thank you for choosing the UAB Community Counseling Clinic. We are currently only taking cash at this time for appointments. 

Providers may make referrals by calling the clinic or faxing,
in which case, please use the Community Counseling Clinic cover sheet.
Phone: 205-996-2414
Fax: 205-996-2414

If you have questions, please contact
(205) 996-2414

2-1-1 Connects Alabama

2-1-1 Connects Alabama is a large, regional, call center providing a comprehensive directory of social service programs available in the North Central Alabama region.

American Counseling Association (ACA)

Official website for the American Counseling Association (ACA). The ACA is the largest professional association representing professional counselors across various practice settings.

American Mental Health Counselors Association (AMHCA)

Official website for the American Mental Health Counselors Association (AMHCA). The largest professional association in the United States representing the clinical mental health counseling specialty.

American Psychiatric Association

Official website of the American Psychiatric Association containing useful health information and educational resources for both clients and mental health providers.

APA Help Center

The APA Help Center is a web-based consumer resource developed to provide the public with educational resources related to mental and emotional health.

Jefferson/Blount/St. Claire (JBS) Counties Mental Health Authority

The Jefferson/Blount/St. Claire (JBS) Counties Mental Health Authority is a local community mental health treatment provider. JBS offers specialty mental health services for children and adults.

NAMI Birmingham

The Birmingham affiliate of the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI). NAMI is a large mental health educational, advocacy, research, and support provider dedicated toward improving the lives of those suffering from mental illness.

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline

A national suicide prevention lifeline launched by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. Provides free emotional support and resource coordination for individuals experiencing suicidal crises or emotional distress.

Psychology Today

Helpful web magazine containing educational resources for clients and providers. Help-seekers may consult the online directory of mental health providers or access archived mental health related educational resources.