Methodist Children’s Home launched a pilot program in July to provide free professional counseling services for individuals and families in the community. The pilot project is initially being offered through the MCH Family Outreach offices in Waco and Abilene.
According to Traci Wagner, vice president for programs at MCH, offering professional counseling is a way for MCH to provide a much-needed resource to the community.
“We believe cost should not be a barrier to families seeking high-quality, trauma-informed counseling,” Wagner said. “For decades we have served residents of the MCH Waco campus, the Boys Ranch and their families through counseling support. As an agency that believes in and implements trauma-informed care in all our programs, we are excited to pilot counseling services through our Waco and Abilene MCH Family Outreach offices as a resource and support for individuals and families in those communities.”
Counseling will be given by MCH Family Outreach staff who hold a master’s degree, or someone who is currently in clinical supervision or holds a clinical license (LCSW, LMFT, LPC). Clinical supervision and oversight will be given by the MCH program administrators who carry a clinical supervision license (LCSW-S or LPC-S).
Available modalities will include, but not be limited to, trauma-focused cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), motivational interviewing, Trust-Based Relational Intervention (TBRI), eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR) therapy, and solution-focused brief therapy (SFBT).
“Our hope is that as families seek counseling support at MCH, they will bridge into some of our other transformative services such as case management or caregiver empowerment groups for ongoing personal and family success and growth,” Wagner said.
Monique Hoskins, director of Family Outreach in Waco, said while some clients may be already connected through other MCH case management services, she anticipates the program benefitting a new demographic in the community seeking professional counseling.
“We regularly serve people through our programs who also have a big need for individual counseling,” she said. “They want to be the best parents and caregivers they can be, but they need someone to help them dive further into issues and experience inner healing for themselves.
“When someone is ready to sign up for counseling, you want them to be able to experience healing. There is nothing like being hurt and not knowing what to do about it.”
Now, the door for counseling services at MCH is “not just open, but free of charge,” Hoskins said.
Abilene is an ideal location for the counseling pilot project, described Maggie Brennan, director of Family Outreach in Abilene.
“The Abilene nonprofit community is very collaborative,” Brennan said. “I anticipate receiving a lot of referrals for our counseling services from other organizations. There is a high demand for professional counseling in Abilene. Even before announcing our services, word was getting out and we were getting phone calls for appointments.”
Like Waco, Brennan said existing MCH clients needing additional counseling beyond case management are served, but the program is already making an impact on the community. Brennan knows the program will add value to the other community services and professional counselors supporting children and families.
“Looking for an opening can be a barrier and discouragement for families in our community, especially foster families needing to find consistent counseling services for their foster children,” Brennan said. “Having a free resource at MCH is a huge blessing for them.”
Brooke Davilla, associate vice president for programs at MCH, described the pilot project as being in line with the intentional direction of the organization. MCH Family Outreach offices are located in 13 communities around Texas and New Mexico. Outreach services include parent education, caregiver empowerment groups, Family Solutions, and the Gap program, which assists grandparents and other relatives taking care of children in the absence of parents. Building from a culture of learning at MCH, staff in outreach offices played a key role in developing the counseling pilot program from an idea to implementation.
“As the landscape of our communities and child welfare changes, we are committed to remaining focused and flexible in our programming at MCH,” Davilla said. “In all our outreach offices we provide intentional and empowerment-based case management that supports families cultivating positive and long-term changes. We have seen incredible changes in families due to the level of intentionality taken by our case management.
“We also understand that not all families are ready for that level of engagement seen in our prevention services. Through this program, we will be able to engage with the community in a new and much-needed way through high-quality, trauma-informed professional counseling.”