Cover Stories

Help & Hope: Care and Counseling

There are times when everyone needs someone who can really listen, without judgment. Someone who can cut through the confusion and conflict and help us work through life’s challenges with insight, skill and compassion. For more than 45 years, Care and Counseling has been addressing the psychological, emotional and spiritual needs of St. Louisans. The region’s only accredited, interfaith, nonprofit counseling organization, Care and Counseling serves more than 1,200 adults and children annually with affordable professional counseling at nine locations in St. Louis City and County and St. Charles County.

“Nearly 20 percent of the population, or one in five adults, experience mental distress in their lifetime,” says executive director Amy Bertschausen. “And approximately 21 percent of youth age 13 through 18 experience a mental disorder in any given year.” Therapy isn’t a magic wand that makes challenges disappear, she notes. “But after working with a therapist, 93 percent of people say they can handle their problems more effectively.”

Making that first call in search of help can be daunting. Established in 1968, Care and Counseling offers a safe, secure way to seek psychological and spiritual support in times of crisis, Bertschausen explains. Services include individual, family and couples counseling. The nonprofit also provides resources and training for psychotherapists, clergy and lay ministers and their congregations, as well as community mental health education and employee assistance programs. The organization is affiliated with the American Association of Pastoral Counselors, the Samaritan Institute and the Children’s Services Coalition.

Thanks to support from individual donations, foundations, corporations and faith communities, Care and Counseling is able to offer services to those who would otherwise be unable to afford the full cost of therapy. The organization’s major fundraiser, Passport to Hope, takes place May 13 at Coronado Ballroom. “Our benefit generates more than $100,000 annually to help individuals and families in crisis,” Bertschausen says.

Andria Simckes and Kathy Pratt serve as co-chairs. Julia Muller and David Fleisher Sr. will receive the 2015 Heart of Care and Counseling Award. “Julia Muller, a member of our board for more than seven years, has helped take us to the next level of growth with her unparalleled leadership and commitment to our mission,” Bertschausen says. “Dave Fleisher has significantly strengthened our fundraising efforts, most recently by serving as chairman of our development committee.”

Every day, Care and Counseling receives calls from people in need, asking for help in moments of hurt, crisis and despair. “And every day, we say ‘yes,’ regardless of their ability to pay,” Bertschausen says. Donor support makes that ‘yes’ possible, she adds. “I’m honored to work with this great organization, our incredibly skilled staff and dedicated board members. Our commitment to high-quality, spiritually integrated an affordable counseling is a unique and treasured resource in St. Louis. Our mission is to help people find their way to health and wholeness—and to keep issuing passports to hope.”