- Laura Leavitt
Taking a First Step: Counseling as A Path to Creative Problem-Solving
Life offers us unique challenges at every stage of life, but some major ones happen during the golden years, when changing housing, family structure, and relationships can all have an impact on your mental well-being.
A new service, Foundations Counseling, has joined the Community First Solutions network of health and wellness providers. While Foundations is new to CFS, they are experienced counselors and therapists, with a wide-ranging team that spans many different specialties.
Many residents at Westover and Berkeley Square already enjoy convenient access to a continuum of care, but may have not explored options for mental health counseling. We spoke with Susan Hendryx, LPCC-S, a clinician at Foundations Counseling who works with older adults. She’s seen how it can be daunting to try therapy for the first time, but she’s also seen some of the ways that older adults thrive in these conversations.
“The reality is that research shows that older adults respond better and more quickly in therapy,” points out Hendryx. “When you’re younger, you have all the time in the world and may have no sense of urgency. Older adults have perspective and discernment, and they recognize that time is a gift and to make the most of it.”
Starting mental health counseling involves overcoming some stigma from the past and even the present, where some cultural backgrounds involve only keeping difficult conversations inside the family or just not talking about them at all.
“There’s a benefit to going and talking to a stranger in a completely non-judgmental and supportive environment,” says Hendryx. “We are bound to create a confidential environment because we have a legal and ethical obligation.”
While there are some exceptions to confidentiality, such as if someone discusses harming themselves or someone else, many individuals find that counseling allows them to work through worries or anxieties that they don’t necessarily want to discuss with family or friends.
“Counselors aren’t here to solve people’s problems. My job is to help you see what you are dealing with in a different way, so we can do creative problem-solving together,” says Hendryx.
While people of all ages experience mental health struggles, there can be specific conversations that can help older adults if they feel a loss of independence or if they are experiencing grief. Susan Hendryx runs a counseling group about grief twice each year, bringing people who are in a similar life stage of working through grief together and having them talk about what they are feeling.
“My job with grief is to teach them the process and normalize it and to let people know that life does change but things do get better,” says Hendryx. “Everyone in the group is experiencing it together - different losses, whatever the case, but we all know the feelings of loss. When people realize they aren’t alone, they aren’t on a desert island, there’s a definite community that builds in that group.”
Foundations Counseling has a variety of specialties represented in their clinical staff, and finding a counselor who is a good fit for you may start by seeing the specialties that each therapist brings to the table.
“We have a wide variety of therapists to choose from, and everybody has their own area of expertise, and we have a combination of social workers and counselors, but we all provide counseling,” says Hendryx. “We have female counselors, male counselors, younger and older, you have a variety of people to pick and choose from.”
The team also includes some Christian counselors, for those who would like a Biblical perspective or prayer incorporated into their counseling conversations. Not all of the counselors work in this faith-based way, though, so those who aren’t interested in a Christian perspective on their conversations are also very welcome.
Hendryx points out that getting started can be the biggest challenge, and if you aren’t convinced, you’re under no obligation to continue with regular conversations.
“People will be pleasantly surprised that it isn’t as scary or daunting as they anticipate,” says Hendryx. “I love going to work because I have some of the best coworkers and we laugh and get along. Everybody in our office is kind, caring, compassionate, and they really care about our clients.”
Ready to learn more and have a first conversation at Foundations? Contact the Foundations team today to schedule an introduction visit.