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With new name, Catonsville mental health group looks for broader reach

Catonsville Times - 8/31/2017

Aug. 31--With a new name, a Catonsville mental counseling nonprofit hopes to play a more inclusive role in the community.

Suburban Crossroads Counseling, formerly known as Suburban Pastoral Counseling, decided to make the change earlier this year to better reflect its services and be more accessible, said Elaine Bain, the executive clinical director.

The practice provides psychotherapy services to individuals, couples and adolescents and is open to all, Bain said.

"Looking at the future of Suburban, we would have a more viable longevity if we made the shift," she said. "The hope is it will bring in more clients."

The change in name, in part, took place as the practice began accepting more insurance referrals -- a practice Bain believes started in the early 1990s. Now, most of the company's clients -- about 85 percent -- are referrals from insurance providers.

The practice has about 130 clients but has room for about an additional 70, Bain said. Enrollment is down by about 50 percent from last year because of the departure of two full-time staff members.

For those without insurance, costs for a 45- to 50-minute session are on a sliding scale based on income. The minimum rate is $30 and the maximum is $150, Bain said.

Jon Bleiweis

As the National Alliance on Mental Illness Metropolitan Baltimore expands in the area, it has opened a hub at Christian Temple in Catonsville to provide improved access to its services for southwest Baltimore County residents.

Catonsville was chosen due to its proximity to Arbutus, Woodlawn and...

As the National Alliance on Mental Illness Metropolitan Baltimore expands in the area, it has opened a hub at Christian Temple in Catonsville to provide improved access to its services for southwest Baltimore County residents.

Catonsville was chosen due to its proximity to Arbutus, Woodlawn and...

(Jon Bleiweis)

"The practice is at a crossroads and often when people come into mental health, they're also stuck at a crossroads and looking for new direction," she said. "So we thought that was fitting."

Brian Edwards, a licensed counselor in the practice, said it could be advantageous to have a variety of backgrounds from the counseling staff to help a diverse client base.

"The change in the name really puts a stamp of inclusion," he said. "It has been that way, but for many, the name might have been a bit of a hindrance."

The business was founded in 1972 by a group of churches in the Catonsville area. Its board is comprised of pastors from the Catonsville and Arbutus area.

Until 2010, the company was staffed entirely by pastors or religious sisters. Now, four of the six full- and part-time employees have pastoral experience, Bain said. A therapeutic dog named Mertz, a 5-year-old Maltese rescue, is considered a co-worker by staff.

Another reason for the name change, Bain said, was that a source for the group's counselors, the pastoral counseling program at Loyola University Maryland, is closing. The university announced on its website the impending closure of the 40-year program in January "due to financial underperformance, declining enrollments, and a shrinking market for new students."

Bain said it's too early to tell what the name change has meant for the business. August is typically a slow time of year for the practice because school is out of session and the weather is warm, she said.

The practice, in the Rolling Crossroads office complex -- the name of the street being a coincidence, Bain said -- also has offices at Catonsville Presbyterian Church and Christian Temple Church in Catonsville, along with a Parkville location that opened in April.

A spokesman from the Maryland Department of Health, which regulates the counseling industry in the state, said the department does not track shifts in the focus of providers such as Suburban Crossroads Counseling.

Baltimore County has no jurisdiction over treatment providers, a county spokeswoman said.

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UMBC Racing team member Dominic Fonseca explains what the UMBC Baja team does throughout the year to build and compete with the team's racecar.

UMBC Racing team member Dominic Fonseca explains what the UMBC Baja team does throughout the year to build and compete with the team's racecar.

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Catonsville football set to start season (Craig Clary/BSMG)

Catonsville football set to start season (Craig Clary/BSMG)

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(c)2017 the Catonsville Times (Ellicott City, Md.)

Visit the Catonsville Times (Ellicott City, Md.) at www.baltimoresun.com/explore/baltimorecounty/publications/catonsville-times/

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