By Ashley Strehle, Fort Riley Public AffairsSeptember 10, 2009
FORT RILEY, Kan. - Three words sum up the counseling services offered at the Family Life Ministries Center: experienced, confidential and free.
Carla Morgan, a civilian counselor intern at the Family Life Ministries Center, said everyone there has counseling and therapy experience. Whereas other chaplains have a Master's of Divinity, the chaplains at the Family Life Center have that, in addition to therapy and counseling education.
Chap. (Maj.) Scott Kaminsky, director of the Family Life Center, has a master's degree in counseling and is a Kansas-certified marriage and family therapist. The other chaplain in the office, Chap. (Lt. Col.) Robert Epperly, installation chaplain, also is becoming a Kansas-certified marriage and family therapist.
Morgan and Brent Westover, the civilian counselor interns, are both graduate students in the Marriage and Family Therapy Program at Kansas State University. Though they are not yet licensed, they are in the process of working toward it and have counseling experience.
"We're not just starting," Morgan said.
In order to become interns at an outside counseling program, Morgan and Westover had to complete requirements to be accepted into the clinical program. They also are supervised by their professors.
"That's the way they kind of control, make sure we're doing the job how it should be done. So it's not like we're doing it out of nowhere. We have some regulations. This is a service of quality," Morgan said.
Kaminsky and Epperly also have a clinical supervisor, Anthony Jurich Ph.D., a professor with the School of Family Studies and Human Services at K-State.
"He helps us better help couples if we get stuck on certain problems," Kaminsky said.
Though the civilian counselor interns and the chaplains are supervised, their services are still confidential.
Kaminsky and Epperly talk to Jurich weekly.
"Nobody practices medicine without a mentor or someone who can better help them help their patients; same with us," Kaminsky said.
Another advantage of the counseling services at the Family Life Ministries Center is they can be long term.
"We don't deploy. So we do long-term counseling, six to eight weeks, whatever it takes," Kaminsky said.
The counseling services at the Family Life Ministries Center are confidential and free for Soldiers, Families and civilian Defense Department ID card holders. Their counseling services include: premarital, marital, religious and spiritual, reunion, traumatic or combat stress, single parent, divorce, remarriage and single adult counseling, and Family therapy.
"We see everything. We don't know everything, but we know the basics of communication. We know how to get couples talking. We know how to help people grieve over the loss of a Soldier, or a marriage," Kaminsky said.
The staff at the Family Life Ministries Center encourages people to seek counseling if they are experiencing depression, marital conflicts, anger and bitterness, grief and loneliness, parenting issues, difficulty in maintaining satisfying relationships or communication problems.
They also can help people recover from divorce, perform crisis intervention, assist with stress management and talk with people about infidelity, deployment and reunion issues.
Morgan encourages people to seek counseling services sooner rather than later.
"Going through the literature and studies, most people wait an average of six years to be treated for something ... they just deal with it, push it aside, keep trying to overcome it on their own. That doesn't work very often," Morgan said.
When individuals wait a long time to get therapy, their problems can accumulate and it can take even more therapy to help them. Whereas if individuals seek counseling right away "five or six sessions can possibly get them on the right track," Morgan said.
Therapy can help people solve problems by giving them another perspective on their issues.
"We're like translators ... we help the people re-phrase what's going on ... and see it from a different point of view so they can start handling things differently," Morgan said.
Morgan also is a military spouse so she's aware of the specific troubles military Families face.
"There are a lot of issues that are common because of the Army culture ... like deployments, just moving from one place to another. It's really stressful. It adds so much more to the daily life of an individual," she said.
The staff at the Family Life Ministries Center wants people to know about their services so they can help with these issues.
"We're having a brigade coming back so we want people to know what we do because there's going to be a lot of family issues, marriage issues, when the brigade comes back, especially after a year. We just want to get the word out because a lot of people would like to come," Kaminsky said.
The Family Life Ministries Center is open Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. For more information or to make an appointment, call 785-239-3436. They are located in Building 500, Room 120.