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Thursday, November 15, 2012

Who Doesn't Want A Happy Holiday?

Maybe the Grinch wants everyone to be miserable at Christmas, but I doubt if most of us would agree.grinch When you reflect on Thanksgiving, Christmas, or holidays in general, what comes to mind? Visions of hugs, laughter, and lots of people gathered around the table? Unfortunately, holidays can be devastating for those who are estranged from families, sick, poor, grieving, in the midst of a divorce, or suffering from any number of debilitating problems. For these folks, holidays only increase feelings of despair.

If you or someone you know is suffering, please consider getting professional help today. If you live in Allegheny, Beaver or Butler Counties, there is a Samaritan Counseling office nearby--10 of them, in fact. If you or someone you know in need of counseling resides outside of the Pittsburgh area--or doesn't live in Pennsylvania at all--you can still access a Samaritan Counseling Center anywhere in the United States--and Japan!


Samaritan's counselors are not only licensed and highly credentialed, but they are also genuinely caring people who specialize in many different areas of therapy. Above all, they live their lives according to their faith in God--and respect their clients' spiritual beliefs by integrating faith principles during counseling sessions. Additionally, our therapists will often engage in prayer with a client who is amenable to do so.

Counseling is NOT a quick fix or instant cure. At Samaritan, we often remind people that it took time to get to where they're at, and it will take time to turn things around. What counseling DOES do is foster healing and teach healthy ways to cope and resolve problems. Of course, it can be more complex than that, depending on the nature of a person's issues. In any case, Samaritan welcomes men, women and children from all walks of life dealing with diverse problems and mental health disorders. Furthermore, we connect our clients with the appropriate medical professionals should they require additional care.

Please take care of yourself and your loved ones. Don't be afraid or embarassed to get help. If you're still reluctant, understand that therapy is a process to help you improve your life--to embark on the New Year with a renewed sense of hope and self-determination. It's the smart thing to do.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Ladies, it's really OK to take care of YOU.

At Samaritan Counseling Center, we are currently serving approximately 2,000 men, women and children on an annual basis. Over half of our clients are women. Hmmmm. What does that tell us? According to the National Institute of Mental Health, women are 60% more likely to experience an anxiety disorder and 70% more likely to develop depression than men. Reasons cited include: brain chemistry, hormonal changes, domestic abuse, poverty, body image and self-esteem issues. Furthermore, women are more likely than men to take on most--if not all--of the burden of caring for aging parents in addition to working full time, raising children and running a household.

Ladies, if you are suffering in silence due to overwhelming stressors, fatigue and lack of self-care, you owe it to yourself to seek help. I cannot emphasize enough that seeking help is a sign of strength, courage and intelligence--NOT weakness, stupidity or failure!

Think about it. It takes a great deal of strength to juggle a lot of important tasks and responsibilities. But when you run yourself ragged, you are doing yourself and those who depend on you a great disservice. Sometimes we're so close to something, we can't see it. We get accustomed to certain things in our lives and rather than step back and ask ourselves, "Is there a better way to do this? Should I even be doing this?" we just continue on...wearing ourselves out, and growing unhealthy and unhappy.

Taking care means taking care of your WHOLE self--body, mind and spirit. If you exercise, eat right but don't sleep, you won't feel well or function at your fullest potential. If you work hard and achieve in your career, but are filled with fear and anxiety you will not feel rewarded. When something is holding you back from enjoying your life, it makes sense to seek help to turn things around.

Don't wait for a crisis to occur before getting help. You deserve to be happy.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

“Getting through Grief"

As we draw closer to Samaritan's fall Bereavement Groups, I am again reminded of the loss of my mother. Knowing that people can grieve in different ways, I have a deeper understanding of my own grieving process.

My mother had been very sick for a very long time. I watched her slip away slowly as each of her bodily systems began shutting down. When she reached what Imy mother and me call "her point of no return," it was still another 18 months or so before she passed. Not being around sickness and death everyday, I was amazed by how long this process took.

She experienced all of the end stage of life symptoms long before her life ended. It was during this extended period I felt myself grieving for her. My mother as I had known her was gone. She still spoke to me, but she seemed like a ghost of herself. I realize that during this time I had been grieving the loss of my "healthy" mother. The one who baked homemade bread and humongous cheescake and spent too much on Christmas presents.

When God finally called her, my grief changed. It became mixed with relief that she was no longer in pain. The part that hurt the most was that I wasn't at her side when it happened.

This is the first time I've written about this experience, and although it brings back sadness and pain, it is also therapeutic for me.

If you have experienced the loss of a love one at least three months ago, consider participating in Samaritan's Bereavement Groups. The fact that they're free of charge is, by far, not the only benefit. Being around others who are grieving helps you feel less alone. Learning about the bereavement process and having the opportunity to share with others helps promote healing. People often form bonds of friendship with others in the group.

Call Samaritan at 412-741-7430 to sign up for our September/October sessions. The group runs six Thursdays beginning September 20th at 7 p.m. and will take place at the Sharon Community Presbyterian Church in Moon Township.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Take Care

When someone tells you to “take care,” do you really do it?

I often wonder—how many of us don’t go to the doctor until we reach a point that we’re so sick we can barely get out of bed? I realize everyone is not this way, but I, for one, tend to be. I have to make diligent efforts to avoid putting my physical—and emotional--health on the back burner.

That brings me to a similar issue. We’ve come a long way in our society in recognizing that getting professional help for mental and emotional problems is not a sign of weakness or something to be ashamed of. Seeking counseling is smart and healthy. Why wait until you reach a crisis point?

Whether problems exist in your marriage, family relationships or your own thoughts and behavior, they won’t just go away if left unaddressed. Chances are very good they’ll get worse until they finally reach a crisis point. By then, emotions are out of control, relationships are destroyed and lives are torn apart.

At Samaritan, we not only counsel people who are suffering through difficult times or mental health conditions, but we also provide educational programs. Our holistic and preventive approach to wellness is the hallmark of our services.

For instance, Samaritan has partnered with Twogether Pittsburgh to present a variety of marriage workshops, including Marriage Preparation, Marriage Enrichment, Marriage Mentoring and Sustaining Relationships through Difficulties. There’s something for everyone. It’s exciting, actually, to look deeper into your relationship, identifying both the good stuff and the areas in need of improvement. You can learn how to improve your communication and explore ways to draw closer together. You might even have some good advice to give another couple.

In addition to marriage workshops, Samaritan provides many other helpful programs to meet the needs of individuals, families, pastors, churches and more.

Until next time, stay well and ENJOY your life. And if you’re not, please take your health and wellness issues off the back burner!

Thursday, July 12, 2012


Grief--we all go through it. It is one of the most painful, stressful and often devastating emotions we will experience during our lifetimes. (I lost my beloved mother two years ago to a dreadful disease.) But how do we know if or when it's time to see a counselor?

Grieving is a normal reaction to loss and can occur not only from the loss of a loved one, but also as a result of losing one's health, job or experiencing other traumatic events.

Grieving begins to lessen in intensity as time passes. But if the grieving person does not begin to feel better, is unable to perform daily functions and is thinking that his/her own life isn't worth living, then it's time to seek one-on-one counseling. A therapist who has been trained in bereavement can help people cope in healthy ways, such as by taking care of themselves and avoiding grief triggers. Left unchecked, unhealthy grieving can lead to depression.

Samaritan Counseling Center holds Bereavement Groups which are set to begin again this fall. Groups are appropriate for someone whose loss has occurred at least three months prior to engaging in the first meeting. Studies have indicated that people are still in a crisis state of mind for about three months. Consequently, if they are not coping well and wish to get help, individual counseling is the right choice.

Samaritan's Bereavement Groups follow a six week model and are both therapeutic and educational in nature. Groups entail learning about grief, understanding it and engaging in discussion among others who are experiencing similar feelings. Helpful materials are also provided. Additionally, our Bereavement Groups are free of charge.

If you think you or someone you know can benefit by bereavement counseling, please call 412-741-7430. Click here for dates and times.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Christian Radio

Samaritan Counseling Center is excited to partner again with WORD FM—Christian Radio—as guests on the John and Kathy Talk Show. If you’ve never listened to the show, please give it a try. Not only does this duo facilitate a compelling discussion with their guests on a wide range of topics, but they also provide the opportunity for listeners to phone in and become an integral part of the show. girl w earphones 2

The last time Carl Baughman and Martha Selleck participated in the program—which airs live, BTW—they experienced a unique opportunity to provide professional advice in a large public forum. They were touched by the courage and honesty exhibited by the callers, which is no surprise, since both Carl and Martha are caring Christians who have turned their passion for helping people into their lifelong vocations.

Counseling is very personal and confidential, usually conducted behind closed doors. Yet when given the opportunity to speak directly to a counselor over the airwaves, listeners did not hesitate to call in. Carl and Martha welcomed the chance to offer hope, encouragement and thoughtful advice.

“Being a guest on John and Kathy’s show was a humbling experience.” said Carl, “I was able to speak to such a wide audience about issues such as abuse, depression, marital infidelity, loneliness and grief.”

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

You Are Not Alone

At Samaritan, the number of calls for help we receive has been dramatically increasing for the past two years. In fact, between 2010 and 2011 our number of sessions has risen by 29%. Issues such as financial struggles, growing demands in both the home and workplace and other stressors are taking their toll on people from all walks of life. We continue to see numerous people suffering from bipolar disorder, depression, anxiety, marital and family crises and many other issues as well.

There are people, however, who are reluctant to call a counselor for a variety of reasons, such as feeling scared, embarrassed or believing that their situation is hopeless. If you are one of those people or know someone who needs help, consider the following facts:

You are not alone and you do NOT need to suffer in silence.

Suffering from a mental health problem is NOT a sign of weakness. Did you know that Winston Churchill, Abraham Lincoln and Eleanor Roosevelt all suffered from depression?

Professional counseling works. If you desire to work at getting better, you will.

God made us body, mind and spirit. It is important—and makes sense—to seek health and wellness in each of these areas.

In closing, here are your to-dos: 1) Don’t wait for a major crisis to occur before seeking help; 2) Tune into 101.5 WORD FM on Thursday, July 12th at 5 p.m. to learn more.

Monday, April 2, 2012

John and Kathy Show

Our debut on the John and Kathy Show on 101.5 WORD FM radio was such a success that we were invited back! Tune in to listen at 5 p.m. of July 12th to hear Carl Baughman, Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist and Samaritan's Executive Director. Carl will be available to answer your questions on the air.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Going Through a Phase

How do you know if your child is just "going through a phase" or if he/she needs help? There are signs to look for, including: isolating/not connecting with friends, frequent crying, slipping grades, changes in behavior, refusing to go to school. Your child may be suffering from depression, anxiety or other disorders. Talk to your child about it--and don't hesitate to seek professional help. According to research, if--for example--depression is left untreated, if often continues into adulthood. It can also be a "predictor of more severe illnesses in adulthood." Here is a link to a good article on this subject. If you have questions, we have a great opportunity for you! Tune in to 101.5 WORD FM radio at 5:10 p.m. on Tuesday, June 5 to hear Samaritan's Carl Baughman and Martha Selleck on the John and Kathy Show. You can call in with your questions to have them answered by professional counselors.

Friday, March 2, 2012

Silent Samaritans

May is National Mental Health Awareness Month. It is also the time of year Samaritan is blessed by many compassionate, caring women—our Silent Samaritans—who give generously to help other women in need.

Of the 2,000 individuals the Samaritan Counseling Center served last year, more than half were women. Looking at statistics, it is not surprising. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, women are 60% more likely to experience an anxiety disorder and 70% more likely to develop depression than men. Reasons include: brain chemistry, hormonal changes, poverty, domestic abuse, body image/self-esteem and the additional responsibilities of caring for children as well as aging parents. Again—these facts are hardly surprising.

Thanks to our faithful Silent Samaritans, over 1,200 women in need were empowered last year to recover and improve their lives. With newfound hope, spiritual direction and professional guidance, these women are now armed to be their strongest, best selves.

But the need for counseling never diminishes. In fact, not only did the number of women qualifying for fee subsidies increase by more than 30% from 2010 to 2011, but we anticipate that number will continue to climb. As women struggle in this uncertain economy, Samaritan must be prepared to help—both therapeutically and financially.

“The Samaritan Counseling Center cannot exist without people willing to support it financially. I was blessed to be able to pay for counseling—but many cannot.”

- A former Samaritan client

Women seeking help at Samaritan want to be their strongest, best selves for their families and themselves. Realizing they need help and making the effort to get it is the vital first step—and a sign of personal strength. Your gift will ensure that first step will not be their last.

Please become a Silent Samaritan today. To show our sincere thanks and appreciation, we invite our Silent Samaritans to a special luncheon which will be hosted this year by Newlin Archinal. To learn more, call Beth at 412-741-7430, ext. 404, or register now.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Pre-Marital Counseling: A Good Idea!

Isn't it interesting that we devote significant time, effort and dollars into planning weddings but often fail to think about equipping ourselves to build strong, happy marriages? When you look at statistics on divorce and the top reasons why relationships get into trouble, you would think more people would seek to learn preventative measures before tying the knot.

How does one determine what constitutes a quality pre-marital counseling program? Here are some things to think about.

First, effective tools have been developed to assess a couple's strengths and weaknesses. They are not a one-size-fits-all variety, but are designed for various types of couples, such as those planning second marriages, marriages with children, first time marriages and couples over 50.

Once a couple gets their results, they can begin to explore their similarities and differences in important areas such as spiritual beliefs, sexuality, finances, relationship dynamics and more. Led by a professionally trained counselor, couples can benefit from group discussions as well as one-on-one sessions focusing on addressing their individual issues.

So whether or not you're planning your first wedding, or are about to remarry, you would help yourself and your spouse-to-be by making the effort to prepare for success!

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Body, Mind and Spirit

I have been the Director of Development and Marketing here at Samaritan Counseling Center since I was hired on November 7, 2011. From that day forward, I awake each morning feeling so blessed to be a part of this incredible organization.

I guess one of the points of this blog is really to emphasize the high level of professionalism, teamwork and integrity that is prevalent at Samaritan. Our staff consists of highly trained, professional men and women who work hard to empower people with the tools they need to heal and move forward in their lives

Second, I cannot emphasize enough to anyone who is reading this that getting help for emotional and/or mental problems is just as essential as getting help for physical ailments. God made us so that our minds, bodies and spirits function together. Our brains are not lumps of tissue that only guide our physical functions or help us learn new information. Our memories, thoughts, chemicals, hormones, DNA and all of the numerous and complex functions that "flow" through our brains and bodies 24/7 affect our entire being. Yes, (from Psalm 139) we are "fearfully and wonderfully made!"

Men, women and children seek help at Samaritan for a wide variety of reasons--reasons that have brought about periods of overwhelming anxiety and stress, depression, hardships within families and marriages and many other problems in their lives. I give a lot of credit to those who seek help! Contrary to what a lot of people still believe, it is not a sign of weakness nor it is "shameful" to seek the services of a counselor. Everyone encounters times in their lives when trials or traumas strike, often bringing about high levels of stress and feelings of being overwhelmed, scared or helpless. These circumstances often lead to sleeplessness, heightened emotions, fatigue, self-medication and numerous other problems--like lashing out at others or even at yourself. Instead of suffering in silence--and denying to yourself that you're not OK, and that your behavior is not adversely affecting those around you--getting professional help not only aids you in the process of working through your situation, but provides new and better ways of thinking, reacting and behaving. Different types of therapy can help us gain an understanding of how stress, emotions and disorders can affect our minds, bodies and spirits. We can learn ways to take care of ourselves better and reverse the "negative stuff" in our own heads.

If you or someone you know needs help, please give us a call. Samaritan's therapists help heal the body, mind and spirit using the resources of faith.

Beth Healey, Director of Development and Marketing