- Special Sections
- Public Notices
By Peter Sawyer
For more than 10 years, Couples and Kids has provided counseling services for the underinsured in the Central Virginia area.
“We started out with one patient, and now we have served over 3,000,” Couples and Kids Executive Director Norma White said.
White is a licensed professional counselor and a licensed marriage and family counselor. Because White is also an approved clinical supervisor, students are able to go to Couples and Kids for training.
“I supervise the counselors in training from Liberty University, and Lynchburg College and other counseling schools,” White said.
These students are able to provide counseling under her supervision.
Located in Forest, Couples and Kids is a non-profit organization. There are currently six counselors and one office manager.
“We’ve had a big impact for such a small organization,” White said.
Part of the reason Couples and Kids has been able to make such an impact is Project Hope. This is a program Couples and Kids offers which enables the organization to offer therapy to people without health insurance.
“We are not state-supported,” White said. “We are funded by grants, donations and fees for service.”
The Bedford County Health-Care Foundation helped fund Couples and Kids. This foundation works with Bedford residents who are without health insurance.
Couples and Kids offers education programs to individuals, couples and families. Some of the available programs help educate patients about healthy anger, drugs and alcohol, and there is a 13-week interactive parent education program.
“The population we cannot serve are the chronically mentally ill, because we do not have a psychiatrist to write prescriptions,” White said.
Patients who are in need of that kind of help are able to get it through Centra Health.
At Couples and Kids the office is full of bright colors and toys. White said many of these are not actually toys but tools for therapy. White uses these tools for “play therapy.”
“I’m the only registered play therapist in Central Virginia,” White said. “It’s a way to address the needs of children without conventional talk therapy.”
The Association for Play Therapy is in California. White said there are chapters in every state. She is a member of the Virginia Association of Play Therapy, and Couples and Kids is recognized through the VAPT as a training center for play therapy.
White said children, unable to communicate their emotions in one-on-one conversations, can do so better through activities they enjoy, such as artwork and playing with toys. In play therapy children paint pictures or arrange scenes in a play house or sand trap. A therapist analyzes what the child does.
“It’s a very wonderful way to meet the emotional needs of children on their level,” White said.