4 The Star/May 11, 1984
Waterloo Counseling Center Provides Help for the Worried Well
By Ed Martinez
What do gay men and lesbians do when
they fall out of love with their lovers, or
their lovers fall out of love with them?
Where do such people tum when they fall
prey to drugs or alcohol, or lose their jobs
and just can't cope? What do they do when
they feel completely alone, depressed and
They probably do what most people do:
they hurt. There is an alternative, however, and one that was not available to
lesbians and gay men in the Austin area
before December 1983 when the Waterloo
Counseling Center opened its doors.
Modeled after such resources as the
Montrose Counseling Center in Houston
and the Oak Lawn Counseling Center in
Dallas, the Waterloo Counseling Center
exists to address adaptational needs and
life concerns of gay men and lesbians in
the Austin and surrounding areas.
Waterloo Counseling Center is staffed
by professionals from the fields of counseling, social work, psychology and psychiatry. All staff members have at least a
masters degree in their field, and the Center is fully accredited and accepted by professionals in the field of mental health.
Hours are flexible, as is the fee schedule,
which is based on a sliding scale depending on income and other factors. No one is
refused treatment because of inability to
The Center is presently located not far
from the University of Texas, in an apartment complex. Paul Clover and Anna
Escamilla, both with masters degrees, are
the founding parents of the Center. They
spoke with obvious enthusiasm about
their work with the Center and how it
came into existence.
Escamilla had worked with various
agencies in Austin and has lived in the
Austin area for about 13 years. Clover
came from Lubbock, where he had worked
in the field of mental health, and has lived
Paul Clover and Anna Escamilla at Waterloo Counseling Center
in Austin for five years. Both of these concerned young professionals spotted an
unmet need for a counseling service for
lesbians and gay men and proceeded to fill
it. Howie Daire, of the Oaklawn Counseling Center in Dallas, was most helpful in
pointing the way and supporting the work
necessary to help get the center born.
Clover and Escamilla took the responsibility for the service and in December of last
year when they saw their first clients.
The main problems dealt with at the
center are the myriad problems of adjustment to some facts of life—i.e., dependence, drug abuse, relationship problems.
In short, the center exists to help solve
those problems that gay people have in
Whether or not those problems exist
solely because the clients are gay, the
problems, nevertheless, tend to lend themselves to solutions more easily when
addressed by gay counselors. The reason
for this is simple enough: problems do not
exist in a vacuum, and the fact of a person's sexual preference should be considered when dealing with personal
problems. Gays usually feel uncomfortable discussing this aspect of their lives
with nongays. Ergo, gay counselors quite
often do a better job of dealing with personal problems that threaten a gay person's emotional health than nongay
Clover and Escamilla spoke with admiration and gratitude of the cooperation
they have received in obtaining referrals
and support from nongay professionals in
"The reason forthis support may be that
we're in Austin," said Escamilla. She feels
that gays are less alienated in Austin than
in larger metropolitan areas.
When asked about sex therapy and the
use of sex therapists, the two stated that
they usually referred clients with specific
sexual dysfunction to trained sex therapists.
"Although we can help some clients,
sexual dysfunction can also be a physical
problem, so we prefer to refer such
clients," Clover stated.
The founders of Waterloo stressed that
the case load at the center is supervised by
a wide variety of professionals in the
health care field, and that the center
works closely with its board of directors.
This is evidenced by the number and frequency of referrals received by the center
from all over the Austin area.
Finally, the center can be and is used as
a conduit to the Austin gay community by
newcomers in Austin. Although only in its
first year of operation, the Waterloo Counseling Center has demonstrated conclusively that it is already a part ofthe Austin
community, both gav and noneav.
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