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Samaritan Counseling seeks well-being for all

Counseling session

For Advocacy Day, the Michigan Conference is raising money for Samaritan Counseling Center, an EngageMI partner in ministry that provides mental health care for anyone in Metro Detroit.

Content Editor

This year’s Advocacy Day, sponsored by the Michigan Conference, centers on increasing mental health care access for all Michiganders. As part of this effort, the conference is raising money for the Client Assistance Fund at Samaritan Counseling Center (SCC) of Southeastern Michigan.

Samaritan Counseling Center is a Step 2 EngageMI Ministry Partner (CCMM#3050) that was founded, in part, by United Methodists and is now an independent nonprofit with satellite office locations in churches throughout the Detroit Metro area, including eight United Methodist churches.

Samaritan Counseling Center provides therapeutic counseling and educational services to all God’s people seeking wholeness through emotional and spiritual growth. They make every effort to provide counseling services to persons of all economic statuses and walks of life. SCC accepts many insurances, but if a client does not have insurance, is on Medicaid, or is unable to pay the standard fee, SCC can offer to make care affordable because of their Client Assistance Fund. This fund is replenished thanks to cash gifts, donations, and annual fundraising efforts.

Registrants for Advocacy Day have a chance to donate to Samaritan Counseling Center’s Client Assistance Fund when they sign up. Those who cannot attend Advocacy Day in person on March 13, 2024, can give financially to support the fund online through the Michigan Conference’s secure giving link.

Since 1985, Samaritan Counseling Center has provided counseling services to people in Southeastern Michigan. The idea for a counseling center was birthed out of Orchard UMC in Farmington Hills when the congregation, led by then-pastor Rev. Robert L. S. Brown, decided it was better to develop such an endeavor ecumenically and invited other faith communities to join them. Twelve churches responded to the call. Rev. Wesley L. Brun, a United Methodist elder, served as the first executive director until his retirement in 2006.

Samaritan Counseling Center has grown over the years and now employs 26 clinicians, including Rev. Latha Ravi, who also serves as Associate Pastor at Cass Community UMC in Detroit. Clients are assigned a therapist based on the therapist’s specialty and whether they are an in-network provider for insurance purposes. Therapists offer in-person, telehealth, or hybrid appointments to meet clients’ needs and make mental health care more accessible.

The main office of Samaritan Counseling Center is located in a dedicated space at Nardin Park UMC in Farmington Hills. Satellite offices are found in 14 churches throughout Southeastern Michigan, including these eight United Methodist churches:

    • Brighton: First UMC
    • Brighton: First UMC, Whitmore Lake Campus
    • Commerce UMC
    • Detroit: Cass Community UMC
    • Farmington: Nardin Park UMC
    • Northville: First UMC
    • Rochester: St. Paul’s UMC
    • Seymour Lake UMC

These specific locations have been chosen to serve the diverse communities in the Detroit Metro area better and minimize costs. Samaritan Counseling Center is grateful for this long-time partnership with local churches.

This connection with The United Methodist Church is important for some people seeking care. This was true for Rev. Michelle King, a deacon serving in the Michigan Conference who is also this year’s Advocacy Day Assistant with the Board of Justice. She values the care she received from SCC personally.

King explains, “Samaritan Counseling Center is where I first received counseling as a teenager. My therapist supported me through the trials and tribulations of high school, helped me navigate college and early adulthood, and taught me coping skills and strategies to use when I struggled with depression and anxiety. As a member of a United Methodist church, I found it comforting to go to a therapist’s office at another UMC. It felt safe. I’m so grateful for that Methodist connection that helped my parents find Samaritan in the first place and trust them enough to make me an appointment there.”

Samaritan Counseling Center’s licensed therapists offer a variety of therapeutic approaches to assist their clients’ healing through exploring their inner resources and hopes. Dr. Karen Schurgin, Clinical Director, explains their approach to counseling: “We offer a ‘space for faith,’ knowing that spirituality is often a key to a person’s resilience. Samaritan is not a religious counseling organization. We are interfaith, meaning we work with individuals of all religious and non-religious backgrounds. All individuals are welcome to participate in SCC services.”

Latha Ravi profile photo
Rev. Latha Ravi, Associate Pastor at Cass Community UMC in Detroit, also works for Samaritan Counseling Center. Ravi understands that some people cannot afford mental health care, so SCC’s Client Assistance Fund is critical. Growing up, she learned valuable lessons from her father about not turning people away when they need care. “My father raised my sister and me to always reach out to those who needed help the most. My father is a gastroenterologist, and he drummed into us that if we were to see a patient who did not have money, we were not to turn them away because of their financial resources. We were to help them in any way we could. He impressed upon us that since we were blessed abundantly and can be grateful for what we have, we can and should reach out to those in need and not worry only about our well-being.” ~ social media post courtesy SCC

Some persons seeking counseling services may not desire a religious or faith connection, but it has proven valuable in relationship building and providing a welcoming, safe space for therapy. United Methodist elder Rev. Latha Ravi, who has both theological and social work training, recalls a positive situation she’s recently had.

Ravi notes, “I had a wonderful experience with a client who was very wary of religious leaders and had not read my biography, and so they didn’t know I was a United Methodist pastor. After learning this, the person agreed to try me out, and now we are continuing our sessions. It’s been almost a year, and I feel like we’ve developed a really good relationship. I like to think that my work as a social worker can be incorporated, as well as my work as a United Methodist pastor.”

Counseling aims to offer a supportive relationship and safe setting for persons to explore the dynamics of any inner struggle and grow in self-understanding, moving toward personal growth. The terms “counseling” and “therapy” are often used interchangeably. Distinctions between mental health clinicians are based on what type of education the clinician received (generally between psychology, counseling, and social work) and which license they are eligible for based on education and experience. Mental health clinicians must be licensed by the state of Michigan to offer therapeutic services to Michigan residents. All the mental health providers at SCC hold a license in the state of Michigan.

Specific counseling services offered by Samaritan Counseling Center staff include the following:

    • Individual Counseling
    • Family Counseling
    • Couples Counseling
    • Premarital Assessments (some clinicians utilize the popular Prepare/Enrich tool)
    • Art Therapy
    • Psychological and Academic Assessments
    • Clergy Assessments
    • Art Adventures in the Schools
    • Speakers Bureau offering presentations or educational seminars on a wide variety of topics to churches and in other community settings
    • Congregational and Organizational Support (assisting with conflict or organizational change)

Click here to learn more about each of these services on their website.

The Michigan Conference endorses Samaritan Counseling Center in its work. Rev. Dillon Burns, vice chairperson of the Board of Global Ministries, notes, “As a provider of professional therapeutic counseling and educational services, Samaritan Counseling demonstrates a holistic intersection between faith and mental health and is engaged in the everyday work of supporting the well-being of all God’s children. We are glad to support an organization devoted to mental health care across Southeastern Michigan.”

Want to learn more about Samaritan Counseling Center? Click here to visit their website, and follow them on social media via their Facebook page and Instagram feed.

For those seeking mental health care in the Metro Detroit area, call Samaritan Counseling Center at 248-474-4701. They will gladly assist you in your path to healing and wholeness.

Last Updated on February 28, 2024

The Michigan Conference