Joint project of RCD, SMU designed to provide counseling services to LGBT individuals, couples
Officials from Resource Center Dallas and Southern Methodist University cut a ceremonial ribbon to open the SMU Center for Family Counseling at Resource Center Dallas on Oct. 4.
The center has actually been operating since last November, according to RCD Strategic Communications and Programs Manager Rafael McDonnell.
Graduate counseling students from the SMU Annette Caldwell Simmons School of Education and Human Development provide counseling services under the supervision of doctoral licensed university faculty and staff.
McDonnell said this is a service that has not been provided to the community since Oak Lawn Community Services closed its doors on Jan. 1, 2000 and Hope Counseling Center closed about two years later.
Sabine Rakos is the SMU faculty member on site at RCD supervising the program. She said that since opening, they have served about 85 people with five or six counselors staffing the center.
Counselors have completed all of their course work and are getting advanced practical experience while completing their hours required for professional counselor, marriage and family therapy or chemical dependency license, Rakos said.
Rakos described the counseling as “very active, solution-focused and done in a timely way.” In addition to individuals, she said they work with couples, families and groups.
Rakos said clients at the center are dealing with a number of problems including depression, anxiety, anger management, stress, coming out as well as relationship difficulties.
“For those dealing with medical conditions such as depression, once the person is medically stabilized under the care of a psychiatrist, they can be seen at the center for assistance in the behavioral aspects of managing their symptoms. Some of the implications to the individual’s relationships, work or families can then also be addressed,” Rakos said.
“We are particularly interested in seeing even more couples,” she added.
Couples benefit from everything from what she called “a tune-up” to assistance with “communication skills or other issues that threaten the long term well being of that relationship.”
Some clients have sought the center’s help for dealing with their pattern of serial relationships.
“The treatment plan focuses them on skills that will assist them to match their good intent with long term success in their next relationship. And some they come when they want to make sure they are ending a long relationship in a healthy manner that respects and honors the relationship they once had,” she said.
For people dealing with coming out issues, Rakos said they like to work with the entire family.
“Once the individual has told, the family may need assistance in ‘catching up’ to the identity of their loved one. Sometimes individuals come really struggling with how to come out to families, friends, and have employment issues or other significant implication,” Raskos said.
Groups are close-ended, lasting for eight to 16 weeks. Groups on various issues are offered throughout the year.
“This year the transgender group and the relationship skills group were very successful. Groups that will be offered soon include LBGT parenting support groups, men’s issues, and a women’s issues group,” she said.
McDonnell said the service is “open to the entire Oak Lawn community, not necessarily just the GLBT community.” He said the initial intake assessment is free and the service is sliding scale and affordable, although they do not accept insurance.
Although most assessed are found appropriate for services, Raskos said that those who need referrals are provided with the best options available to them in our area.
For information or to schedule an intake, call 214-393-3680.
This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition October 23, 2009.