When The Guidance Center recently received accreditation from the APA Commission on Accreditation, it was an affirmation of the Center's commitment and value to the community.

By RIMSIE MCCONIGA
rmcconiga@leavenworthtimes.com

When The Guidance Center recently received accreditation from the APA Commission on Accreditation, it was an affirmation of the Center’s commitment and value to the community.
The Center’s doctoral internship program receiving accreditation in 2017 was an impressive boost that has been a perfect lead-up to the big 80. The Guidance Center is now officially celebrating 80 years of promoting healthy communities.


The Guidance Center’s mission is to promote healthy communities by providing integrated behavioral health care services and partnering in the delivery of general health care to those they serve in Leavenworth, Atchison and Jefferson counties. Anyone who walks through the door receives the services they need regardless of their ability to pay.


“We enrich the community by offering an array of services to help children, adults and families overcome their mental health challenges,” says Samantha Adams, community based service director.  “We work with our community partners to bring stability to those in need of mental health support. We teach them tools and educate them on resources to strengthen their ability to maintain in their homes, school/work and community.”
The Center’s long and successful history began in 1938 as the Atchison Child Guidance Clinic. In the 1960s, Leavenworth and Jefferson counties joined with Atchison to create Northeast Kansas Mental Health and Guidance Center and in the mid-1990s, the name was changed to The Guidance Center.
Motivation has been a driving force at the Center for decades and when the doctoral internship program was accredited, the excitement among staff members was re-ignited.


“This just put the gold seal on our program which brings a little pride as well,” says Jason Malousek, clinical director and internship program director at The Guidance Center. “Our other staff are also proud that we can advertise that The Guidance Center offers an accredited teaching experience for future interns. This allows us to bring in some of the best doctoral level interns to our agency which benefits us and the community. It’s a win-win for TGC and Leavenworth.”


With the accreditation, Malousek is hopeful that more psychologists will stay in the area and that by offering accreditation to programs that meet the high standards of the APA commission there is “truth in our advertising,” according to Malousek. He said accreditation means they will be able to “offer what they are selling.”


The Center focuses on a wide range of problems and difficulties that community members are facing. Young people can often have serious emotional disturbances including depression, anxiety, behavior problems and addictions that require a team of professionals to assist them, including psychiatrists, psychologists, social workers, case managers and attendant care workers. More than 500 clients seek services for addictions each year and substance abuse continues to be a major problem for the Center’s clients.
“The Guidance Center is the second oldest community mental health center in Kansas,” says Keith Rickard, executive director. “Only Family Service and Guidance Center in Topeka has been around longer, about 104 years. The Guidance Center has been able to maintain clinical and business operations in our catchment area for this many years because we always make our citizens’ needs our No. 1 priority. With a focus on quality service and maintaining a highly qualified staff, we have been able to serve our communities with distinction. Mental health appears to be the No. 1 health concern of our nation right now and we desire to meet the needs of our citizens with state-of-the-art interventions and supports. There are many people to thank over the years for their support and involvement. From our county commissions, our board of directors, our state partners at KDADS and KDHE, and the many professionals and support staff who have worked at TGC over these many years. It is with gratitude to these many partners that The Guidance Center can celebrate 80 years of service to our communities.”


The Center’s facilities provide a comfortable and professional safe haven for people who are seeking help. The ongoing national effort to reduce stigma and encourage treatment is resulting in more people choosing to address their mental health and substance abuse problems, and The Guidance Center provides a professional and confidential setting and a team of professionals to help.
The Center offers services that include the Access Clinic, the Talent Network, the Multi-Disciplinary Child Protection Team, the Early Childhood Program, the Serving Tykes at Risk programs and the Teens Achieving, Reaching, Growing, Exploring and Transitioning (TARGET).


The Guidance Center’s goal for the last 80 years has been to help as many people in the community as possible and that goal remains their mission as they enter their nonagenarian decade of community service.
Their programs are designed for all ages, but the excellence of this type of community service doesn’t come cheap. County, state and federal grants help fund the Center along with insurance payments from private insurers, Medicaid and Medicare, but the Center is also actively involved in fundraising. During its annual fund drive in 2017, The Guidance Center raised more than $50,000 from local donors.
“I feel that The Guidance Center is here to help ones in the community who have been left behind with problems that they cannot overcome without our assistance,” says Lesa Randolph, transportation coordinator. “We offer so many different avenues of help to include walk-in crisis services, Behavioral Health Intervention Services and Transportation. With these services, we are able to get individuals the help that they need. We offer transportation so that we can ensure that the ones who need services can reach their appointment without any worry. We try very hard to accommodate each and every one that needs us.”
As state and Medicaid funding has been shrinking over the last 10 years, contributions from local donors are becoming vital for the Center’s services.


The Guidance Center envisions a healthy community of people who can access and benefit from state-of-the-art, integrated health care which results in an enhanced quality of life for all.
The Center’s staff finds that working to help community members lead happy, productive lives is a very satisfying job.


“The Guidance Center prides itself on providing state of the art evidence-based care in all that we do,” says Malousek. “Working to help people improve their lives and stay in their own communities to receive care is very satisfying. We see many of our people get better and they tell us so. We are a service organization and we seek to employ people who see their mission in life to serve others. Behavioral and emotional health is just as important as physical health. The two are directly interconnected and we contribute to the overall health and safety of our communities.”
The Access Clinic is a walk-in service available in Leavenworth County Monday through Thursday from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. and in Atchison and Jefferson counties by appointment. An intake and assessment is arranged with a mental health professional in order to pinpoint the specific needs of the individual. Then recommendations are made regarding treatment options and a treatment plan is developed.


“The Guidance Center in Jefferson County is an integral part of the community,” says Lance Lewis, Jefferson County Clinic administrator. “For those of us that live in rural counties, we know that relationships in our community mean everything: relationships not just with the various rural organizations, but with the people living here as well. The Guidance Center works daily to provide mental health services to people in all domains, and in doing so, has created alliances with schools, law enforcement, medical professionals and businesses. We have enriched the county with a wide variety of services to our rural community and have provided education on mental illness, suicide awareness, crisis debriefing, trainings, outreach, therapy, medication services and a large array of community-based services for children and adults. The Guidance Center has helped thousands of people in Jefferson County over the years, and we are proud to be a part of the Jefferson County community.”


The Talent Network is a feature on the Center’s website through career builder that prospective applicants can join. They are notified of open positions at The Guidance Center that match their experience and credentials.
The Multi-Disciplinary Child Protection Team is a community coalition made up of professionals from across the county that come together to identify ways to work closely together on behalf of a child and family that need multiple systems of care to address their many needs. They include law enforcement, court services, Kansas Department of Aging and Disability Services, Kansas Department of Children and Families, and school personnel. 


The Early Childhood Program focuses on children from ages 3-7 who are experiencing behavioral or emotional issues that interfere with their relationships within family, social or educational settings. The Guidance Center’s goal is to provide appropriate intervention at a young age so that each child can be successful at home, school and in the community.


A part of this program, Serving Tykes At Risk (STAR) focuses on children who have not yet entered kindergarten (ages 3-5) to address and respond to behavioral concerns before a child is placed in a formal school setting.
Teens Achieving, Reaching, Growing, Exploring and Transitioning (TARGET) is a psycho-social program available for high school-age clients. This program works in conjunction with local high schools to assist teens with learning and practicing the life skills needed to transition successfully to adulthood.