It has been a vibrant and active year at Shalem in the counselling program. Our number of client sessions and new clients continues to rise, and our team’s vision for supporting the community is growing. We’ve made intentional efforts in the area of supporting our community as it seeks to address mental health needs.
Betty Brouwer has had a busy year of presenting on attachment therapy and post-adoption experiences. At the North American Council of Adopted Children’s (NACAC) annual conference, she presented on both attachment focused parenting and pre- and post- adoption support. She also met with Child and Family Services in St. Catharines, offering training in healthy attachments and therapeutic parenting.
In October, most of our counsellors were present at the Day of Encouragement, an annual event for deacons and other church leaders, hosted by the Christian Reformed Church. They presented on a number of topics, including divorce recovery, art therapy and depression. It was an exciting day of conversation.
June Zwier has been active in the Durham Region this year, presenting to 6 churches, including Christian Reformed, Baptist, and Anglican congregations, about mental illness. She helps church groups explore how the church family can better support and include those within their church who are experiencing mental illnesses.
Jennifer Bowen has been building relationships with local churches and pastors in Hamilton, looking at how they respond to mental health needs in their churches, and how Shalem can best support their efforts. These conversations are continuing into 2014, as Shalem will be hosting a half-day event for pastors focusing on the topic of mental health.
Susan has been very active in the community, presenting a variety of workshops. She spoke to church and community groups in Drayton and Woodstock on the issue of abuse prevention. She also led a great daylong training for therapists in Hamilton this fall on Solution Focused Therapy, one of Susan’s strengths. It was attended by local therapists, as well as a number of therapists from across Ontario who are affiliated with Shalem to provide counselling through our Congregational Assistance Plan (CAP). It was so helpful in moving the conversation forward on how to deliver high quality care to clients within the CAP service model.
We are all looking into 2014 with some eagerness, as we will be hosting an exciting conference in March for therapists interested in learning more about attachment in relationships. The conference, titled Attachment: Cradle to Grave, will feature Dr. Susan Johnson, a specialist in attachment in couple relationships, and Dr. Dan Hughes, an expert in attachment between children and their caregivers. So far, the conference has received a great reception, and already many registrations are rolling in.
While our clinical work continues to be our primary focus, our community workshops and professional trainings are an additional way that Shalem’s counsellors seek to extend the service. It has been so encouraging throughout the year to see so much interest and activity to support these important areas of our work.