Christian Center offers counseling | ParkRecord.com

Christian Center offers counseling

It’s program just expanded

Leah Harter is a therapist and program director for the Christian Center of Park City’s counseling center.

Therapist Leah Harter says holiday blues are a real thing.

The program director at the Christian Center of Park City's counseling center, Harter notices her office gets a lot more traffic during the months of November and December.

"We are extremely busy with the holidays and the added stress, seasonal depression and family dynamics," she said.

Harter, nonetheless, is glad to work at a place that offers affordable therapy, not only during the winter months, but year round.

The Christian Center's counseling program started in 2012, and Harter is part of a team that just expanded to six counselors, with each specializing in different areas.

"I work with a lot of people with a lot of general issues, like depression, anxiety and relationship problems," Harter said.

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Claire Camp, who is part of the team, offers therapy to Spanish-speakers. Phyllis Rehn specializes in relationships, while Lauren Hansen works with children and adolescents and Stella Blight prescribes and monitors medications.

AJ Frithiof just got on board to help teens and people with substance abuse problems. Frithiof's position was created in response to growing concerns in the community that surfaced after two Treasure Mountain Junior High students died of overdoses.

Harter said the counseling team at the Christian Center is always looking at how it can best serve Parkites' needs. One way it helps out is by offering a scholarship payment plan to clients.

Pam Bro is someone who benefits from the scholarship program, which allows people to pay what they are able to afford.

"Post-retirement, I had a tiny pension and a huge amount of loss," said Bro, who worked as a pastor before retiring. "I've counseled people, but it's different when you're going through it yourself. The center made it possible for me, on my really low income, to partake of these services. It truly was just lifesaving."

Bro left behind her life in Virginia Beach, Virginia. She said she had trouble getting acclimated to a new community and environment, but the kind of therapy Harter provided helped immensely.

Harter is trained in Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR), a form of psychotherapy that works to reduce the effects of stressful memories. The process requires the patient to think of a negative memory. A sensory stimulus, such as pulsing lights held in each hand, then helps the patient associate the bad experience with a more positive cognition.

Bro said the EMDR method helped her work through trauma she experienced in childhood through loss and abuse.

"It helps to rewire the brain," Bro said. "The therapist helps you move to a new interpretation of a trauma. I creates a new understanding, a new physical response."

In addition to its scholarship fund, which just received $10,000 from Vail Resorts, the counseling center also accepts insurance and flat-out payments.

"We work with several different insurance companies, including the EAP programs that Deer Valley and Vail
Resorts offer their employees," Harter said.

Teaming up with other services

While long-term counseling is one service provided by the Christian Center, the nonprofit also makes sure it can help people dealing with money, food or housing emergencies.

While he isn't on the counseling team's staff, Maximo Ventura is the Christian Center's emergency assistance and outreach coordinator.

"Max is available every day," Harter said. "He does the emergency assistance programs and helps people that come in and need help with rent assistance and that kind of stuff."

Harter said Ventura, in addition to offering financial support, can also offer on-the-spot counseling to people who really need it.

"If someone calls us in crisis, we will try to get back to them as soon as possible," Harter said. "If they need someone to meet with immediately, it would be with Max."

Harter said teaming up with Ventura is just one of many ways the Christian Center's counselors partner with people.

"We also partner with a lot of nonprofit organizations," Harter said. "We work with clients from Peace House. We work with clients from the People's Health Clinic. We work with the school district in referrals."

Harter said she is particularly proud of the counseling center's work with Park City School District. She and Hansen led two Parenting with Love and Logic seminars for students and their parents.

"Parenting with Love and Logic is a specific curriculum that is helpful for parents with kids of all ages," Harter said.

Harter and the other counselors have also held marriage and conflict resolution seminars.

While Harter is proud of the work happening at the counseling center, she recognizes people may need different resources, too.

"We try to support them, but then there are some referrals that are better handled by other people," she said. "At times we might refer people to Valley Mental Health (now Valley Behavioral Health). We might refer them to Jewish Family Services. There are individual therapists with different specialties that we will sometimes refer someone to."

Harter does want to remind people that the Christian Center not only serves Christians. It seeks to help people of all faiths and beliefs.

Bro agrees.

"What a gift it is for the community to have a place like that to go and people to work with," Bro said. "Leah is not out to convert anybody to Christianity. The Christian Center isn't limited to any person. It doesn't want to convert any person. It is there to serve."

More details on the Christian Center of Park City's counseling center can be found online at http://www.ccofpc.org/counseling-services, or by calling 435-649-2260.

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