Counseling Center settles into new home

Morning Journal/Mary Ann Greier From left, Counseling Center Executive Director Roger Sikorszky gives a tour of the new Salem facility on Vine Avenue to Salem Community Foundation President John Tonti and SCF grants coordinator Melissa Costa.

SALEM –The Counseling Center of Columbiana County recently expanded services and the space where they’re provided for Salem residents by moving one block east — from a converted home on Lincoln to a larger, newly renovated professional ground-floor office on Vine Avenue.

“We felt we were investing in the community,” Counseling Center Executive Director Roger Sikorszky said.

The new space is located at 166 1/2 Vine Ave., with the Counseling Center on the lower floor which opens to the parking lot and Family Health Care of Columbiana County with physicians Dr. Maria Ryhal and Dr. Karl Getzinger on the upper floor. The Counseling Center purchased the building and leased the upper space to Salem Regional Medical Center for the health care office.

The Counseling Center started with 3,600 square feet of empty space on the ground floor, talked about what they wanted to accomplish and brought in the contractor, Jim Santini Builders of Washingtonville, who offered some ideas. A $150,000 construction loan from a bank funded the renovation project, which transformed one large room into seven offices for counselors to see clients, a group room, adult and youth waiting areas, a reception area, a financial intake office and a staff break room.

“We needed the space,” Sikorszky said.

The old location, where the Counseling Center had been providing services since 2002, had four small offices and no room for group sessions. The living room of the home served as the waiting area. He said they always thought that one day they would have to move and that day finally came in July in response to the needs of the area.

He explained that over the past several years, the number of client intakes per year had increased by 90 percent, mostly due to an increase in new clients. When asked to what he attributed the increase, he said he didn’t really know, noting the new clients cover all different areas. The Counseling Center office in Salem provides individual, couples and family counseling and now can offer expanded psychiatric service, alcohol and drug counseling and group counseling. Some clients are short-term and some are long.

Having a dedicated space for group counseling is new for the Salem office, along with separate waiting areas for adults and children, a television in the waiting area, a financial intake office, the staff break room and more parking. The dozen staff members who work at the Salem location (some also go back and forth to the Lisbon headquarters) have made their offices their own, adding their own personal touches, just like the Counseling Center encourages clients to do.

Sikorszky said it’s all part of the recovery model they follow, putting the clients in the driver’s seat to take ownership of their recovery.

To assist with the move, the Salem Community Foundation awarded $25,000 to the Counseling Center to buy office equipment, furniture, a new security system and a new phone system for the group room and staff break room.

“The Counseling Center does not have any funding stream that is specifically earmarked for these infrastructure items,” Sikorszky explained in a written press release. “We are so grateful to the board of the Salem Community Foundation. Thanks to the SCF grant, our Salem site has been transformed into a more modern and improved, client-centered environment. We’ve been getting a great response from both our clients and the staff who work there.”

The Counseling Center also invited Help Network of Northeast Ohio to offer a recovery group one afternoon a week to individuals with mental illness or substance abuse issues or both, adding to the services available.

“The Salem Community Foundation has supported a wide range of local charitable activities. We have touched, in a positive way, many aspects of life in the Salem area. Over our 50 years of service, things have changed and needs are greater than we might have imagined. The Salem Community Foundation acknowledges a multiple of human needs, which can be met with our organization’s capital funds. One of the areas of expanding need is human services. The Salem community is blessed to have The Counseling Center that can address the concerns of our families, friends, and neighbors,” SCF President John E. Tonti said in a statement.

Started in 1963, the Counseling Center is a contract agency of the Columbiana County Mental Health and Recovery Services Board and operates as “a private, not-for-profit organization providing a full range of services for the entire county, including psychiatric, counseling, crisis and community support services, as well as housing, vocational, and homeless outreach programs.”

A description of the agency said “these high quality full-spectrum mental health and substance abuse services are offered by the center’s caring professionals to community members of all ages — children, youth, adults, and seniors. The center offers a subsidized fee scale and accepts Medicaid, Medicare, and most insurance payers, making services very affordable to community residents.”

The Counseling Center also operates a location in Calcutta besides the main campus in Lisbon.