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A woman and her children receive support from a Samaritan Center counselor

Samaritan Center Supports Mental Health of Children and Teens

Project Overview

Samaritan Center ensures that children from low-income families receive high-quality and affordable mental health care. The center’s Children and Teens Behavioral Health Program provides individual, family, and group counseling, as well as parent coaching and education to improve youth mental health and help families stay together.

A family supported by the Samaritan Center
The Samaritan Center team works to prevent childhood trauma by educating parents, caregivers, and teachers, and by building up skills in children that increase their resilience.

We focus on the family system and are able to treat entire families of all ages at a single location, which is unique in our community.

Cindy Long, Samaritan Center CEO

How it Helps

Adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) are traumatic events that have been proven to have lasting negative effects on health and well-being. Children may be at higher risk of developing mental illness due to certain factors in the household, such as living with parents who have substance abuse problems and/or mental illness, or growing up in single-parent households due to incarceration, deployment, or death of a parent.

Untreated trauma and childhood mental illness results in academic difficulties for children, lost productivity for parents, more children in foster care, increased deaths by suicide, substance abuse, and increased involvement in the criminal justice system.

Samaritan Center offers evidence-based treatment to prevent adverse childhood experiences, build resilience in children, and treat the impact and symptoms of trauma, neglect, and abuse in children, teens, and their parents. There is a strong focus on childhood trauma, parent-child attachment styles, and infant brain health to further improve the mental health of children, the likelihood of families staying together, and the overall health of children.

An Evidence-Based, Whole-Family Approach 

Samaritan Center offers individual counseling, family counseling, couples counseling, support groups, and skill-building workshops. By working directly with parents, Samaritan Center’s counseling services help prevent abuse and further trauma, and teach parents to alter their parenting styles and build resilience in their children. Parent coaching and education is offered through the Positive Discipline curriculum, which is available in Spanish.   

For teens who have experienced ACEs, these services empower them to begin healing, overcome destructive behaviors, learn coping skills, and increase their overall health to reach their full potential. The Integrative Medicine program provides treatment for the physical symptoms that often accompany stress and mental illness such as chronic pain and issues with sleep.

Through partnerships in the community, trauma-informed services are provided in non-clinical settings as well. Samaritan Center provides trauma-informed training to teachers and staff at Let it Shine Preschool, a program targeting children who have not succeeded in traditional preschool settings primarily due to behavioral problems., The center also provides services at a local elementary school where many children have experienced separation from family or are refugees with extreme trauma.

Broadening Access to Mental Health Services   

Segments of the population have limited options for affordable mental health treatment, including uninsured families and those who have insurance but cannot afford the high deductibles and copays. In 2019, 60 percent of families served by Samaritan Center were living at less than 200 percent of the federal poverty line. Their service model is designed to ensure all families are able to access critical mental health services.

The Samaritan Center is set up to provide telehealth visits when occasional transportation issues or other issues arise. In response to the coronavirus pandemic, services shifted to 100 percent telehealth, offering counseling over a secure HIPAA compliant platform and developing protocols and systems for staff to work remotely.

Samaritan Center has a long history of success in Central Texas, providing mental health services in the region for more than 45 years. Expanding access to quality mental health care can be life-changing for individual children, teens, and families, and transformative for our community as a whole.

Foundation Project Lead