Catholic Charities of Central and Northern Missouri is just a couple of weeks away from launching counseling and behavioral health services.
Dala Hemeyer joined the organization in September to craft the counseling program. The creation of her director position comes as the Jefferson City-based Catholic Charities celebrates its 10th anniversary.
Hemeyer comes to Catholic Charities from the Harry S. Truman Memorial Veterans’ Hospital with more than a decade of experience in behavioral health. She holds a master’s of social work and is a licensed clinical social worker.
There are a few final steps in the process to complete before services launch, with a goal of having everything in place by February, Hemeyer said, noting she does not want to overpromise and underdeliver.
People will be able to reach out for services via the organization’s website or by calling Hemeyer directly at 573-658-0050.
She is currently the only counselor on staff but looks to expand with school-based, adolescent and adult and family couples counselors in the coming weeks and months.
Laying the groundwork for the program
When working at Truman VA, Hemeyer focused on treating veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder. She was not looking for a career change, but she learned about Catholic Charities’ interest in developing a counseling program.
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More and more of Hemeyer’s patients had requested incorporating faith elements into their therapy.
“When we were able to treat the whole person — their mind, their body and their spirit — things just clicked differently,” she said. “I had been praying for quite some time for an opportunity to bring both my therapy and faith background together.”
Balancing faith and therapy
Catholic Charities is set to provide counseling and behavioral health services, while also incorporating faith if that element is sought by its clients.
The organization is expanding its services into this realm based on community requests and needs, Hemeyer said.
“(They) want to have a faith-informed provider who can combine traditional therapy with the faith piece,” she said.
When working at the VA, this element was incorporated only if it was eventually requested by the client. On the reverse, as Catholic Charities builds up its client base, clients can request no faith element in their therapy.
How much — if at all — faith and traditional counseling are intertwined into therapy sessions will be based on the initial consultation with new clients, Hemeyer said.
The idea at Catholic Charities, though, is “for those faithful out in the community looking for a therapist who can bring their faith into the treatment room,” she said.
Therapy sessions will start with traditional practices before incorporating the faith element. This can include looking how a person’s actions or thoughts line up with their belief system, Hemeyer said.
“Even when we leave the faith piece out, we are still looking at how do our thoughts impact our actions, our actions impact our thinking,” she said about clients who may request no faith element to therapy.
What to expect from the counseling services
When reaching out to Hemeyer and Catholic Charities for counseling and behavior needs, there will be an initial roughly 15-minute consultation.
This will determine the direction therapy takes. If the client wants to proceed with therapy sessions, those will be scheduled. Sessions take between 45 to 50 minutes.
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Depending on needs, clients could have between six and 12 sessions.
“What I like people to know about therapy is a little bit of work happens in the office,” Hemeyer said. “A majority of the progress happens in your day-to-day life.”
Therapy helps people by providing an alternative perspective outside of a situation or for getting advice to take back into day-to-day life, she added.
“It’s about talking through (an issue) to get some clarity to make changes or adjustments to their healthy living,” she said.