Diakon meets needs of 1,700 clients

Diakon Family Life Services Upper Susquehanna Office, 435 W. Fourth St., provides a variety of outpatient mental health therapy to meet the needs of its 1,700 clients.

The non-profit and its group of 20 licensed professional counselors and social workers are dedicated to helping their youth and adult clients improve their mental health and help them through difficult times.

“We have a lot of committed therapists,” Susan Decker, a licensed certified counselor, said.

Each of them works with their client to provide the best therapy whether that is individual, group, faith-based, couples or family counseling, she said. They work to create the best fit for each person.

“There’s not a one size fits all treatment,” Laurel Spencer, executive director of the Upper Susquehanna offices, said. “There’s a variety of mental health concerns out there and a variety of methods to assist people in alleviating their pain.”

Decker is the instructor for a 10-week trauma-sensitive yoga class where participants work through breathing exercises, postures and guided meditation while sitting in a chair, she said.

“It is based on the idea that talk therapy isn’t enough for people with a lot of trauma,” Decker said.

It is using the body to heal what is going on inside.

She said participants have experienced positive change and felt mastery over their body.

Besides trauma therapy, the counselors keep up to date with the latest studies on mental illness and work frequently with the LGBT community.

Spectrum Alliance, a local LGBT support group, has referred different people to its counselors, Jamie Plocinski, clinical team leader and a licensed certified social worker, said.

Therapists are able to be accepting and supportive for them especially if they are transgender individuals working through gender dysphoria.

“We are here to be accepting,” she said. “I want them to be OK with who they are as a person.”

The therapists love working with their clients and seeing improvement.

Decker said she loves watching her clients get better and seeing them succeed.

“Those are the happy moments in our jobs,” she said.

Diakon also has a psychiatrist on-sight that works with children and adults who may need medication, Spencer said.

Clients can be referred to the psychiatrist by another provider, their therapist or be self-referred.

“The psychiatrist will complete an evaluation and make recommendations on medication, if needed, and the client can return for medication management,” she said.

Medication management is meeting with the psychiatrist regularly to make sure the medicine that was prescribed is working properly. If not, they can make adjustments.

The organization is dedicated to helping people of all socioeconomic backgrounds, she said.

“It’s part of our mission statement, don’t turn anybody away despite their ability to pay,” Spencer said.

There is a Benevolent Care Fund which is funded by donations and the Lycoming County United Way to help uninsured or poorly insured people get the mental health care they need.

Being a part of a non-profit that focuses on mental health, she said they try to normalize people’s experiences because there is still a stigma in society about mental illness.

Even though people may not be talking about it openly, many people are experiencing problems with their mental and emotional health, she said.

“A lot of people are struggling with the same issues,” Spencer said. “It’s important to educate people that it’s more common than they think and they’re not alone.”

Diakon also has a 241 Broad St., Montoursville, office.

To inquire more about its counseling services, call (570) 524-9477.

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