Making the choice to attend therapy can be difficult, finding therapy once you have shouldn’t be. Better yet, what if the therapist was already there? The Shalem Mental Health Network has spent over 60 years developing a unique approach amongst therapeutic organizations; to implant therapists directly into communities.
This new method isn’t without experience to back it up. Shalem has a long and storied history of adaptation, adjusting their methods of meeting their clients as times changed. They’ve been everything from a single, 30-room psychiatric hospital to a chain of hospitals. Most curiously, their current and most successful approach is to do away with the hospital format altogether.
“We’re not one size fits all” said Felicia Van Dyk, Director of Annual Giving and Donor Stewardship at Shalem. "People don’t know where to turn to for emotional support, so Shalem is meeting communities where they’re at, and restoring hope however is best for any given community or individual”.
In pursuit of this flexibility, Shalem has developed a series of “programs” specialized towards different fields. Foremost is Restorative Practice, which aims to support workplaces and other communities in conflict due to recent events within their community. They do this by offering a “listening circle” that anyone within the community has an opportunity to partake in.
Another example of a community Shalem has been able to assist with Restorative Practice are churches, which have access to both Restorative Practice and another program named the Congressional Assistance Plan. Felicia likened it to a workplace Employee Assistance Program (EAP), an open-door counselling service within churches for members of the church’s staff and greater community. Not only is this innovative, it’s working, with over 100 active contracts across British Columbia, Ontario and the East coast.
When asked about other innovations from Shalem, Felicia mentioned the concept of an individual’s “attachment lens”, which could roughly be summarized as “individual health goes up as relationships improve”. No program exemplifies this focus better than RE-create, a youth-centered program for individuals between the ages of 16 and 24 that aims to generate a community around arts and crafts that just happens to have a counselor available, working around the need to find an existing community.
These programs aren’t the only way Shalem is making mental health more accessible, either. More so than just helping you develop coping mechanisms and repair your relationships, Shalem's extensive history and connections allow them to immediately surround you with resources that are relevant to your situation, referred to by Shalem as WrapAround. “We all think at Shalem that it has the power to change the world” said Felicia, emphasizing that WrapAround puts its focus into giving families “voice and choice” in which services are right for them, while simplifying the otherwise incredibly complicated process of finding such services.
Every donation to the Shalem Mental Health Network helps people who otherwise couldn’t afford individual therapy find the assistance they need with Shalem’s top-notch counselors and therapists. If you’re curious about therapy, you can even attend some of the special events being hosted by Shalem, such as art lotteries and professional seminars, listed in the following link: https://shalemnetwork.org/events-workshops#events
The Shalem Mental Health Network is meeting communities where they’re at, and restoring hope however is best for any given community or individual. Shalem delivers on this promise with innovative programs that implant therapists within communities, ensuring you know who to turn to when you need to talk.
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