TERRE HAUTE —
Susie believes that God blessed her when she walked through the doors of FSA Counseling Center about four years ago.
Today, she is a totally different person than the woman who had low self-esteem and no boundaries, and whose third abusive marriage was failing.
“The man I was married to at the time kept telling me that I was crazy,” said Susie, who asked that her real name not be used, “so I decided to go somewhere and find out if I was.”
She looked up FSA Counseling Center in the phone book, and found its location in the 600 block of Cherry Street -- then she made her first appointment and started down the road to a new life.
“I’ve learned boundaries, not to feel guilty, and that things aren’t my fault,” she said. “It’s like having all that weight and guilt lifted off my shoulders.”
FSA Counseling Center is a full range counseling center providing individual, family and group therapy, crisis intervention, parenting training, supervised visits, training and community presentations, as well as the transparenting classes for divorcing parents with children.
Executive Director Janet McBride said the agency’s services are in high demand in the community, but many people may not recognize that the agency has been active in the community for more than 150 years.
“We’ve kind of been an unpolished jewel somehow,” she said of the lack of recognition.
FSA Counseling Center is a member agency of the United Way of the Wabash Valley, and it receives about 25 percent of its funding from the United Way. Without that funding, many of the services provided for the indigent and those in financial need would not be available.
“More than 70 percent of those we serve are below the poverty line,” McBride said. “But, we have diversified services and we have a variety of clients from all economic levels.”
The agency provides the only certified Batterer Intervention Program in the area. Additional services include intervention and advocacy programs for victims of crime, with outreach efforts and training and education provided to law enforcement and the community. Counseling and prevention services are also provided in the FSA office, at schools, the juvenile detention center, the county jail and in the CODA shelter and housing.
The agency’s office has been located in Deming Center for the past 30 years. There are four licensed therapists and a psychologist on staff.
McBride said that in 2012, the agency provided services to 653 individuals. In 2013, that number grew to 1,097 individuals and families.
She said that one of her goals when she became executive director in May 2012 was to expand services, enhance the counseling services, and to diversity the income sources for the agency. Currently, more services are being provided to children – who can have depression and anxiety the same as adults – and the agency has a victims of crime grant that provides services at no cost to victims. Examples of those served are a person who has been assaulted or abused, and other times it can be for a whole family who was robbed at gunpoint, or who witnessed a crime.
The anger management program made a difference in the life of client Bryan Kester, who said he recognized that needed help. He received six free counseling sessions through work, he said, so he chose to go to FSA.
“Unfortunately for me, it was to the point where I was gonna need it or bad things were going to happen,” Kester said of the counseling. He said he had been through the program once before several years ago, and had a good experience with it at that time, so he chose to get additional counseling sessions.
“It wasn’t just them teaching and me learning,” he said. “It was also fun to go there, and just have a conversation.”
Another client – Shenna Reynolds – said her doctor recommended that she receive counseling services due to her suicidal tendencies, low self-esteem and her difficulties socializing with people. Reynolds said she has found success with McBride, who is a licensed counselor.
“Janet is very challenging,” Reynolds said. “She challenges you to want to do better, and be a better person. She gives you tools to use in every day life.”
One of those tools was in setting goals and rules for herself. She said that at one time, she would go for a week without taking a shower. But with guidance from McBride, she made herself get out of bed, take a shower, and get out of the house every day.
“If it wasn’t for them,” Reynolds said, “I wouldn’t be alive. I would have killed myself already. And they help me so much. I am able to function and make it through the day and start a new day again.”
The confidentiality is what keeps another client – Suzanne – returning for counseling each week.
“I started going there a few years ago for about a year, and I left for a while, but I went back last fall,” Suzanne said, adding that the counselor that she sees gives her a lot of material to read, and offers feedback to help with family crisis situations.
“I look forward to going every week,” Suzanne said. “It gives you hope and optimism.”
The transparenting class is a program that is often court-ordered for families of children going through divorce, so that participants usually don’t have a choice about attending.
That was a bit annoying to participant Veronica Daugherty, who said that as the parent of a teenager and a 20-year-old, she felt she knew what she was doing when it came to parenting. But, the class was very beneficial, she said.
“A lot of it is common sense, but it’s helpful to hear that you’re doing something right. You can also learn that you can do some things better,” Daugherty said. “It was very nice to get me focused on being a good parent because it’s important. By the end of the program, I felt good that I was doing about 75 percent of it right, and that I could do better with the other.”
FSA Counseling Center, formerly known as Family Service Association of the Wabash Valley, serves Clay, Parke, Sullivan, Vermillion and Vigo counties in Indiana, and Clark and Crawford counties in Illinois.
The agency was formed in 1862 and was incorporated in 1948. Previous names include the Society for Organized Charity, and from the 1920s to 1940s it was known as the Family Welfare Society. Originally dedicated to helping widows and orphans of the Civil War, it was founded with a $500 donation from Chauncey Rose. During the 1920s, the organization ran the Friendly Inn, which provided housing and meals to transient individuals, and financial assistance to those in need. Additional services at that time included the Fresh Air Mission, which was later known as Fresh Air Camp, to provide outdoor experiences to underprivileged children.
The agency accepts most insurance, as well as Medicaid and Medicare, and has sliding fees available based on family size and income.
Client Susie said that even though her life has changed dramatically for the better, she is still learning and has a long way to go, which is why she continues with counseling. She said that not having to worry about paying for the services is also a big relief for her.
“I would never think I would be able to go to a therapist, because I’m not a high-income person,” she said. “But they have a sliding scale, and it works for me.”
For more information about the agency, go online to www.fsacounseling.org, or call 812-232-4349.
For more information about the United Way of the Wabash Valley, go online to www.uwwv.org or call 812-235-6287.
Reporter Lisa Trigg can be reached at 812-231-4254 or email@example.com.