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Parish Counseling Network Offers Help for Tough Times

Having a tough time?

For those suffering with the range of mental health issues involving grief, addiction, or simply the stresses of work and family, there’s a place to go. The Parish Counseling Network provides mental health support for parishioners throughout the Archdiocese of New York, from Staten Island to the Catskills.

Through the Beacon of Hope Division of Catholic Charities Community Services, more than 140 licensed clinicians assisted more than 400 clients from more than 80 parishes in 2022, a rise of 31 percent over two years.

Laura Brovich, Director of Special Initiatives for Catholic Charities of Orange, Sullivan, and Ulster counties, knows there are more people out there who could use the services of the Parish Counseling Network.

“I’ve got a need for it to grow. I’ve made it my personal mission. It’s such a valuable service,” she said from her office in Goshen, where she helps direct the program.

Most referrals come from pastors who want to assist parishioners going through difficult times. Costs are $10 per session, a fee that for those who can’t afford it can be waived, intended to create a sense of investment among clients in the counseling.

Counselors work via Zoom or other remote programs or from their offices face-to-face. The program is particularly valuable for those who have no access to medical insurance coverage for mental health care. Laura cautioned that counseling is intended for those dealing with coping issues, not severe mental illness which requires more intensive treatment.

There has been an uptick in interest as the well-documented increase in mental health issues grows.  Some of the increase can be attributed to Covid and families coping with the deaths caused by the pandemic, with the Parish Counseling Network providing special group counseling. Other groups provide support for those coping with grief caused by the deaths of family members to drug addiction.

For those affected by the stigma of deaths caused by addiction, group counseling sessions create “a really safe place to take their grief,” said Laura.

She said many clients prefer Zoom meetings, as it is easier to fit into their schedules. Others prefer the greater privacy afforded by in-person sessions. The Parish Counseling Network also provides counseling to students at San Miguel Academy in Newburgh, a junior high school in a low-income community. There are also counseling sessions available in Spanish and for non-documented persons.