Last updated: July 25. 2013 9:14AM - 504 Views

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Ryan Scott Ottney

PDT Staff Writer

The Counseling Center on Court Street, in Portsmouth, is now open and offering clients a central location where they can find caseworkers, transportation services, and educational programs for drug, alcohol and mental health services.

“We’ve needed to do this for a long time. It’s just that the opportunity to get a facility like this doesn’t come across all the time,” said Executive Director Andy Albrecht.

Formerly the home of the South Central Ohio Educational Services Center (ESC) since 1994, the ESC announced last fall its plan to leave the building to move into the vacated Glenwood High School building in New Boston. At the same time, the Counseling Center in Portsmouth announced they would be the new residents of the Court Street building.

At the time of that announcement last fall, Ed Hughes, president of The Counseling Center, explained the center’s intentions to consolidate its out-patient services.

“We currently are providing out-patient services where our clients, our patients, are coming from a variety of locations around a multi-county area. Then they go to a variety of locations here in Portsmouth. This will give us an opportunity to centralize our clinical staff. All of those clients will come to one location, and we’ll be able to put our administration of out-patient services right here in the same building,” Hughes said.

Previously, the primary out-patient facility was located on 11th Street, and the administrative office was located on Findlay. Hughes explained last fall that The Counseling Center would move its administrative office to the building on Court Street and the facility on 11th Street will transition to a full-time Compass Community Health Clinic.

After months of planning and work in the Court Street building, Albrecht said the facility opened for clients about three weeks ago. Inside the Court Street building, the center offers educational programs, caseworkers, health care, transportation services, and more, together under one roof.

“We’ve been spread out all over Portsmouth for years. I don’t know how many actual sites we had, but putting everything in to this building has taken a long time,” Albrecht said.

In addition to its 11th Street center services, The Counseling Center also combined some of the services from Marsh House and Second Chance. There are about 54 staff members working in the building, with more than 100 clients.

“Basically the clinical staff of The Counseling Center all have consolidated in this building. We still have some of our locations around town. Literally just think of this like a school. It’s like a recovery school. We still have our locations throughout the community and our residents live there in the housing part of the program, and they come here during the day just like someone would come to school,” Albrecht said.

At the center, clients have a full day of treatment for mental health, wellness, or drug and alcohol programs.

“Some people arrive here pretty early, like 7:30 in the morning, and they stay with us until dinner when they return back to their houses. They get traditional drug and alcohol treatment, which is like education groups, and they get therapy groups like group counseling. There’s mental health services and they get individual counseling sessions,” Albrecht said.

He said a lot of the programs offered at the Court Street location aren’t new, but having the ability to combine those services under one roof helps make the programs more efficient and more convenient for clients.

“If they need to see their individual counselor, well, it’s right down the hall. If they need to see their case manager, it’s right over here. Just like a school. If they need to go talk to this person, they’re here; or if they need to see a nurse, the nurse is right down the hall,” Albrecht said.

But the bigger building means there are some new services now available. Albrecht said they hope to expand their workforce development program. There’s even a new computer lab where clients can search for jobs, take part in online training, and work on building their resume.

Ryan Scott Ottney may be reached at 740-353-3101, ext. 287, or rottney@civitasmedia.com. For breaking news, follow Ryan on Twitter @PDTwriter.

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