Impact Spotlight: Community Partnerships Initiative

November 7, 2019

The Community Partnerships Initiative (CPI) aims to provide counseling services to underserved communities in the Greater Philadelphia Area. CPI increases access and eliminates barriers underserved communities face by offering free on-site counseling services in convenient locations throughout the community. Through CPI, Council for Relationships has been able to offer mental health services where the need is most prevalent: at transitional housing centers, schools in low-income neighborhoods, and community centers. An important goal of CPI is to help train the next generation of culturally sensitive therapists. To that end, we engage Thomas Jefferson University students pursuing their Master’s in Couple and Family Therapy to work with CPI clients. CPI utilizes its community partnerships and CFR’s resources to provide counseling services, educational workshops, and mental health information to underserved communities.

The counseling services offered through CPI are available to a broad range of recipients: children, teens, families, individuals, and couples. The primary therapeutic focus areas are grief and loss, stress, trauma, parenting, self-care, relationship challenges, and recovery from mental illness. CPI is a collaborative effort that is continuing to advance with the help of 14 community organizations: Acts Christian Transitional Services, Boys Latin of Philadelphia, Concilio, Eliza Shirley House, HELP Philadelphia, HMS School for Children with Cerebral Palsy, HomeFront Family Services, Mastery Charter School, Mother’s Home, Nationalities Service Center, Philadelphia Interfaith Hospitality Network, Project HOME, Red Cross House, and Southwark School. Each organization promotes its own initiatives to distinct populations, which aids CPI in extending its reach to different underserved communities.

For example, Nationalities Service Center (NSC) provides immigrants and refugees with a comprehensive package of services, including resettlement help and legal assistance, which helps them adjust to life in the United States. As a CPI community partner, NSC is able to provide free counseling services in addition to its other health and wellness offerings. Each NSC counseling session has free language translation services which help CPI to connect with Non-English speakers. Other community partners like Mother’s Home, Eliza Shirley House, and ACTS help populations dealing with homelessness or unstable living situations. Through CPI, graduate students hold group therapy sessions at transitional housing facilities to address issues with self-esteem, emotion regulation, stress management, and empowerment. All students receive supervision chiefly from their supervisors, who are senior clinicians at Council for Relationships. Establishing community partnerships has allowed CPI to reach diverse populations and equip them with beneficial mental health services.

“Red Cross House (RCH) is one of our Community Partners and a Philadelphia-based organization that provides temporary shelter to families who have lost their homes to natural disasters – usually fire. Our students run a monthly workshop at RCH on confronting trauma and loss. One student told me that she was moved by the grace and courage of the residents, and that she has decided to specialize in helping victims of trauma after she graduates.” – Dr. Sara J. Corse, Director of Community Partnerships Initiative

CPI expanded the number of clients it has served since last year. CPI successfully provided 214 group therapy session resulting in 701 people receiving fundamental counseling services. Moreover, CPI has held 583 individual, couple or family sessions, resulting in 196 receiving treatment. The total number of individual, couple and family sessions, has seen a 17% increase since last year. Surveyed clients have reported a 43% increase in psychological well-being. CPI has helped individuals to start working or maintain employment and has helped families preserve housing when they were on the brink of homelessness.

CPI will continue to offer counseling services, educational workshops, and mental health information to underserved communities in the coming year. CPI is dedicated to making mental health services available in locations that are most convenient for recipients. CFR will work to expand the list of community partners in an effort to reach more people in underserved communities.