From Acting to Counselor of the Year – It All Makes Sense to Clark Ausloos

Wednesday, November 18, 2020

In October 2020, Visiting Assistant Professor Dr. Clark Ausloos received the Susan J. Sears Counselor of the Year Award from the Ohio Counseling Association for going beyond the call of duty by demonstrating exceptional service as a practitioner and counselor educator.  
“I feel so honored to be following in the footsteps of the many people that I’ve worked with and looked up to who have previously received this award,” says Ausloos, who joined PAU this fall.    
The award speaks to his ingenuity in using his scholarship, teaching and clinical counseling experience in helping schools and communities provide safe and supportive environments for transgender youth.  
Ausloos’ route to psychology and counseling was somewhat non-traditional. It is rooted in his background in musical theater.  With a B.F.A. in Fine Arts from the University of Wisconsin, Stevens Point, in 2011, Ausloos founded Next Stage Studios, a performing arts educational organization for students ages 3-18.  Through this experience, Clark established deep bonds with many of his students. “I remember the students felt very comfortable talking to me about things that were outside of voice or acting lessons,” says Clark.  
While he enjoyed teaching young people music and drama, he loved even more the aspect of getting to know them. This led him to explore school counseling. “It was something I was pulled toward. I discovered that school counseling is who I really am, so much so, that I didn’t want it to end there, so I continued with my clinical mental health degree and eventually realized I wanted to be a counselor educator.” 
Today, Ausloos believes his theater background offers a pedagogical framework in the classroom and in his clinical practice. “I really value creativity and the ability to improvise in order to meet my students and clients where they are at,” he says.  
At Palo Alto University, he enhances his students’ online learning experience by play-acting the people in the case studies. “Often, in counseling we work with case examples or case studies that are in the written format, which can be kind of boring,” says Ausloos. “ I decided to record myself and act out the different clients so that the students could see a real person. It offered a more interactive experience where the students were more engagement. I’m always looking for ways to increase the creativity.” 
Recently, Ausloos received a minority fellowship from the National Board of Certified Counselors enabling him to establish the NW Ohio Diversity in Schools program which promotes diversity and inclusion for LGBTGEQIAP+ students.  As part of the program, Ausloos recruited an advisory panel of local experts to serve as a resource to counselors, teachers and school administrators in supporting transgender youth. Ausloos hopes this model can be built upon and replicated in other school systems. 
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