Shalem offers two ways of accompaniment
Individual, couple and family counselling
This includes specialized therapy for children and youth who struggle with attachment disorders and their caregivers. We deeply honour and respect all those who embark on a journey of healing.
Equipping and supporting communities
This includes faith communities, to better embrace the needs of people who struggle with emotional distress and/or mental illness.
We offer support through the following initiatives
- Shalem Counselling Services (greater Hamilton region)
- Congregational Assistance Plan (CAP) and Clergy Care (Ontario and beyond)
- Restorative Practice Services (Ontario and beyond)
- WrapAround Services (Ontario and beyond)
- RE-create: a drop-in studio for street-involved youth in downtown Hamilton
Why Shalem? What Makes Shalem Unique?
Shalem seeks to respond to a troubling social trend, a trend we call “the professionalization of care”. For the last number of decades, as a society we have tended to offload our responsibility to care for those who are most vulnerable to the professionals. The impact has been to simultaneously overburden the professional sector (which is now plagued by lengthy waiting lists, funding shortfalls and fragmented service delivery) and disempower communities. As community members we tend to defer to the “experts”, such as psychiatrists and social workers.
One senses the beginning of this development in this painting, “Science and Charity”. Do you recognize the artist? It is none other than Pablo Picasso, who painted it at the ripe age of 16.
Picasso’s painting depicts a late nineteenth century scene: a woman appears to be gravely ill. She is looking at a nun who offers her a drink and may be holding her child. A doctor, who is looking away, is reading her pulse in relation to the ticking of a stopwatch. There is no interaction between the two caregivers, or between the woman on the bed and the doctor.
Today, the relationship between the two sectors represented in the painting—informal care provided by the community and by loved ones; and care provided by professionals—is rife with mutual suspicion and not very functional. In fact, often today they are no longer even in the same room together. Yet one has the sense that neither professionals nor communities on their own can effectively provide care for the most vulnerable in our society. Professional involvement tends to be time-limited and mandate-driven, and the outcomes with complex needs are not strong. Community involvement needs some organization and injection of expertise, or it can cause more harm. But together — integrated within a new, much different relationship than we see in this painting—perhaps they could be truly effective.
A New Partnership
That’s what Shalem is about.
How do we get there? Professionals need to learn how to embed themselves in communities — a more difficult task than we might like to think. And communities need to step up and assume their rightful responsibilities to care for their most vulnerable members.
Everything we do at Shalem is a demonstration project in a new, different, more integrated relationship between communities and the professional mental health sector, as a way of living out the Gospel in mental health. In WrapAround, communities wrap themselves around people with simultaneous, multiple, complex needs. In Restorative Practice, people in workplaces, churches, schools, and neighbourhoods assume responsibility for their own relational practice. In the Congregational Assistance Plan (CAP) and Employee Assistance Plan (EAP), churches, schools and workplaces provide for mental health care for all of their members. In our attachment counselling work, foster and adoptive parents are positioned as key members of the professional treatment team. In RE-create, artists and volunteers link with at-risk street-involved youth to create hope for a better future.
Developing a new, different, integrated relationship between professionals and communities is Shalem’s niche. It’s what makes us unique. It’s proving to be extraordinarily fertile, garnering the generous partnerships of some of the best professionals in the mental health field and of many, many vibrant communities. And it is having a real impact on people’s lives.
A New Centre
In fact, it is having such an impact that we have launched the Shalem Centre of Excellence and Learning in Community-Based Mental Health. Its vision is to understand, develop, learn and share best practices in community-based mental health, rooted in the integration of the community and professional sectors—and through this to develop new, better, contemporary, responsive ministries, within our resources. All of Shalem’s program evaluation activities, publications, community workshops and professional trainings are housed at the Centre. We aim to understand our impact better, to improve it, to explore the linkage between the theories undergirding our practice, to share our learning, to learn from others, and to exercise influence in the mental health field. Above all, we seek to grasp, at better and deeper levels, what it means to be human, as relational and faith-filled creatures, in relation to our Creator, our Redeemer, and one another.
Please join us!
Do join us! Perhaps you are seeking some counselling help for yourself or your family. Maybe you want to improve the responsiveness of your workplace, faith community, school or neighbourhood to the mental health realities within them. Or you would like to support this ministry with prayer and with financial donation through the Shalem Mental Health Foundation. Maybe you would like to help us strengthen even further the business model that undergirds our work, so that we can continue to support people who cannot pay for service because of their life circumstances. Perhaps you would like to volunteer—or simply connect. Regardless, we welcome your partnership. We do not take it for granted, and we could not exist without it.