Celebration Church opens new LGBT counseling center

Posted on 27 Oct 2008 at 12:19am
By Praveen Sathianathan Staff Writer

Barron House offers ‘win-win’ situation with sliding scale for clients, cost sharing to keep expenses low for therapists, church official says


The Rev. Carol West, senior pastor at Celebration Community Church, said it was the kindness of church members that made the Barron House possible.

FORT WORTH — For years those seeking spiritual guidance and solace have rushed to churches for support. Now one church is taking another approach to help its congregation.

Celebration Community Church in Fort Worth dedicated Barron House, a new counseling center with an outreach to the LGBT community, on Oct. 26. Barron House is managed by Celebration Cares, the non-profit arm of the church.
Angela King, chair of the Celebration Cares board, said the center will benefit both clients and therapists.

"We are working with therapists who base their rates on a sliding scale, and in exchange we will work with them on reducing their costs," King said.

For many therapists, she added, this is a win-win situation.

"It is a great opportunity for those just starting out or therapists who only want to work a few days," she said.

King said there are a lot of overhead costs associated with a practice, such as rent and facilities costs. Barron House will help cut down on those expenses.

"Here we will make it less expensive for them. We will also help them with back office duties," she said.

And as a result, clients will have to pay less money to see a therapist.
"Everyone must pay something for treatment to be beneficial and meaningful," King said.

Licensed professional counselor Lisetta Thomas, who is one of the therapists involved with the center, said, "I think there is less access to affordable counseling for our community. I feel this is one of the needs Barron House will meet."

Although, anyone can receive counseling at Barron House, it is Tarrant County’s first counseling center with a primary focus on the LGBT community. Most of the counseling opportunities for the LGBT community are in Dallas, King noted.

The Rev. Carol West, senior pastor at Celebration, said about 95 to 98 percent of her church’s congregation are LGBT people, so when the opportunity to start the counseling center presented itself, church officials decided to jump on it.

"A property became available next to the church which needed lots of work, and I didn’t think I could convince the congregation to buy it," West said. But, she said, it was the kindness of some of the church members who banded together and bought the property and then donated it to the church that allowed the project to proceed.
King said the property was then gutted and completely redone.

"Before the building was a fourplex which people rented. We converted the building into an amazing structure," she said.

King said the facility now consists of a group rooms with a kitchen, four counseling rooms and bathrooms. And it complies completely with the Americans with Disabilities Act.

King remarked, "People are extremely generous," in reference to church and community members who have donated many items to Barron House for use.
West added, "We were really glad we were able to set this up for the community. We wanted it to be for everyone."

Although Barron House was dedicated last month, King said the center has been operating a few months. "We have some volunteer therapists who are affiliated with the church. We envision 10 to 15 therapists who are helping 40 to 50 people a week," she said.

King noted that there is a possibility Barron House would be used by groups such as Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous in the future.

She said people interested in seeing a therapist at Barron House are asked to answer a few questions over the phone before being referred to a therapist based on their problem or their schedule. For those with scheduling conflicts, Barron House tries to provide flexible hours, which include Saturdays and evenings.

Barron House is located adjacent to Celebration church at 516 College Ave.
in Fort Worth. To schedule an appointment call 817-335-3222.

E-mail Praveen@dallasvoice.com

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition November 28, 2008.

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