“She eventually began to drive again,” Chase said. “She became more independent, assertive, less anxious and was able to live for herself, therefore bettering her relationship with her children and husband.”
Formerly a senior peer counseling program at Glendale Memorial Hospital, it is now a peer counseling program for adults 25 or older at the recently renovated VMHCare clinic on Colorado Street. Because the program is run by volunteers, it will remain unaffected by the budget cuts that are threatening other services offered at the facility, said Myrna Samuels, resident clinical psychologist.
The 24-year-old peer program provides therapy for adults, mostly senior citizens, dealing with depression, anxiety, retirement, loneliness, relationship problems, health concerns, loss and bereavement, Samuels said.
The program’s volunteers have to go through a lengthy screening process and three-month, 50-hour, training program before they are chosen as peer counselors, she said. They also receive ongoing education and must attend at least one of the two supervision sessions offered weekly.
During these supervisions the volunteers brief their fellow counselors and the two resident clinical psychologists, Samuels and Stan Pavey, about their client meetings. The licensed therapists offer professional insight about how to make further progress with clients during future sessions, Samuels said.
Although some clients pay $10 to $15 per 50-minute session, most receive free counseling services, Samuels said. No one is turned away for lack of funds, she added .
“We provide high-quality counseling at little or no fee,” Samuels said. “We have many counselors volunteering their time, so it costs little to provide a large service.”
Additionally, Samuels said the program is meant to enhance the quality of people’s lives.