Pastoral counseling center prepares for new chapter
By Bonnie Adams, Managing Editor
Westborough – It's been said that often one's own advice is the hardest for one to take. And sometimes fate must intervene in order for that advice to be taken seriously. For David Russo, this is certainly true.
For the past 12 years, Russo served as the executive director of the nonprofit Assabet Valley Pastoral Counseling Center in Westborough (now known as Pastoral Counseling Centers of MA (PCC) after a merger with the Worcester Pastoral Counseling Center). He also practiced full-time there as a licensed marriage and family therapist and licensed mental health counselor, and taught college-level courses. But a series of events over the past year, including two major illnesses, finally forced Russo to take his own advice. In September 2012, he stepped down from the executive director's post to concentrate on his therapist duties and, as he said, “To take care of me.”
The PCC approach is unique, Russo said, in that it offers a specialized type of counseling that combines behavioral sciences and religion. The staff members are all licensed therapists who have studied psychology, marriage and family and pastoral counseling.
No one religion is emphasized, Russo stressed.
“It's spiritual-based counseling,” he said. “We focus in part on what a client's spiritual values and traditions are.
“People come to us in pain, depressed, anxious and stressed,” he said. “We provide a sacred space for healing. But that healing doesn's come from us – it comes from above, from the holy one.”
Since becoming executive director 12 years ago, Russo acknowledges that the Westborough practice has grown, although he is quick to deflect credit from his contributions and instead acknowledge his colleagues” work. Another reason for the growth, he noted, is the center works closely with insurance companies, so that more people may avail themselves of the resources there.
In financially difficult times, especially since the 2008 recession, many often desire help, he noted. But because of financial reasons, they may not have the resources to pay for it.
“We have an assistance fund that local faith and community civic groups have donated monies to,” Russo said. “We can in some cases offer sliding fees for those who qualify. We try to make every effort to try to help people who need our help.”
The center's staff works with people from all walks of life including individuals, couples, children, adults, and the elderly. They also offer workshops, group therapy, psychological testing and assessment services as well as counseling and psychotherapy.
Since stepping down from the executive director's post, Russo said he is enjoying his practice as a therapist.
“My illnesses helped me to connect, in a way, with my clients more. We are no different from each other,” he noted.
He is also taking his own advice to take the time for things that truly matter, he added.
“I am making time to exercise and to be home for supper each night,” he said.
Mary Taber, a licensed certified social worker and certified spiritual director, is now serving as the center's interim executive director.
“It's been a year of challenges, especially for Dave,” she said. “He's been a terrific director. He brought a lot of energy and enthusiasm here. We are delighted that he is staying on as a therapist.”
One other major change will be occurring Feb. 2 when the center moves out of its 8 Church St. offices to 7 Church St., right across the street. (Taber noted that although the new center will be on the same street, the entrance will be at the back of that building.)
For more information on the center and its services, call 508-366-4000 or visit www.PCCofMA.org.
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