Family Counseling in Lincoln open to community

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[December 28, 2015]  LINCOLN - In 2012 the Center for Youth and Family Solutions opened its Lincoln office. Though many people know about the agency's foster care services, they may not be aware that this past summer the agency opened up its counseling services to the community.

According to CYFS website the agency offers "professional counseling for children, individuals, couples, and families; in-home counseling for seniors; mental health crisis response for youth; and community advocacy programs."

The Family Counseling Program is for both whole families and individual family members including those in biological families and foster families. Many families that work with counselors are those that are considered most 'at risk,' and counselors are working with the parents to help keep the family intact.

The program also helps intact families who are linked with the Department of Children and Family Services though the kids have not been removed from the home. Betty Hayes, Intact Family Case Worker with the Center says, "The Intact Family Services Program is designed to provide services to families in need in order to avoid removing children from the home and typical services that can include mental Health Counseling, Anger Management, Domestic Violence Counseling, Relationship Counseling and Substance Abuse/Recovery Counseling and support services."

Surveys distributed to various agencies help identify the needs. The Center also gets referrals from several agencies. Clients have to meet certain requirements for service plans.

Hayes notes that goals are specific to the individual family’s needs and set in conjunction with the clinical staff. She says, "Typical goals are to identify stressful situations (mental health/anxiety; anger issues/domestic violence; substance abuse) and take the appropriate steps to address the issues. These goals are, by their very nature, specific to the issues and relationships in each family. " Hayes said quarterly staffings are held between the counseling staff and the case workers to determine progress and any additional identified needs.

Hayes said that many of the families are also offered parenting classes. Goals for parenting class are generally to identify family morals, family values and family rules and to make a plan for appropriate consequences and rewards when rules are followed or broken.

Another service is groups such as the anger management group that meets over the summer. Right now, this group is for adults, but could be offered to younger ages at some point.

The Center is also looking into offering a domestic violence class for guardians of those who have been sexually abused.

Counseling techniques include role playing, play therapy, and drawing. Each of these techniques helps everyone learn about possible family issues.

In role playing, a parent may take the role of the child and a child the role of the parent to help show how the other person views them

In play therapy, children can use dolls, puppets, or other toys to help express their feelings.

For drawing, children are usually asked to draw their family. Center for Youth and Family Solutions Communications Director Samantha Hayen notes that when some children draw a family picture, they leave out their parents, which helps provide some insight into their feelings.

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Attachment based techniques are another type of therapy the Center provides. These techniques help children who may have trouble with trusting people and controlling their behavior, often after they have been abused or neglected. The therapy assists them with these challenges.

The counselors can help with behavior management, dealing with temper tantrums, and anger issues in children. A video is offered for foster parents with angry children.

Any trauma affects children, but counselors use different approaches for different children. They'll often look at how the parents and children interact.

The Center's brochure shows that other services offered are "critical counseling, casework, and support services to assist those whose lives have been touched by trauma, grief and loss, abuse and neglect, and other significant family life challenges." Counselors work to provide solutions for each situation.

Terri Clayton, a counselor at the Center, says that some families go to Peoria or Springfield because their DCFS case was opened in another location. If the family is not working with DCFS, some families do not know the resources are available locally. They may also need resources the Center does not offer such as art or music therapy and autism management.

Last year the Center for Youth and Family Solutions provided help with approximately 20 families not associated with DCFS and 109 with the program. This year they've helped 17 families not associated with DCFS and approximately 100 with program.

CYFS serves about 20,000 individuals through the whole agency, which is about 8,000 families.

Though many services have been affected by state budget issues, Heyen said the Center is not at risk of losing funding right now. Of nine main programs offered through the Center for Youth and Family Solutions, only one service is not in the new budget. The agency's goal for this upcoming year is to increase community clients, to work with the community more, and to provide more services. In rural areas, it is harder to find services.

The counselors provide access to counseling for those who otherwise might not be able to afford it and CYFS will also accept medicaid. The Center is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. The offices are located on Lincoln's west side next to Davita Dialysis on Fifth Street Road just west of the Lincoln Parkway. CYFS can be reached at 217-732-3771.

[Angela Reiners]


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