Environmental stressors can have a devastating impact on the well-being of numerous individuals, originating the need for personal counseling. Nevertheless, in the lack of resources for individual sessions and diminished access to therapy for specific populations, a community counseling model is a preferable solution (Lewis et al., 2010). Recognizing the participants’ cultural belonging in a community environment becomes a crucial task for counselors. Culturally responsive interventions typically offer accessible services, diminish stigma and mistrust, help acknowledge distress, and promote interdependence (Lewis et al., 2010). In addition, a significant issue in community counseling is community recovery, an effort to rehabilitate the social and physical environment damaged by a disastrous event. In this regard, the counselor can enhance community collaboration, leading to empowerment and rejuvenation of the normal flow of life.
Nevertheless, as any community comprises individual inputs, it is crucial to address personal crises during community counseling. Crises are highly stressful situations that create difficulties in individual coping, resulting in such negative symptoms as stress, depression, or even suicidal thoughts (Lewis et al., 2010). In these situations, the timeline of the intervention can tremendously impact the person’s capacity to change, leading to rehabilitation. The main objective of such endeavors is to help the community members regain control over the circumstances and obtain the resources to improve their welfare after the crisis. Of significant importance are the suicide prevention programs that can aid the affected individuals to overcome the pressuring issues by alleviating distress feelings, thus preventing suicidal attempts.
Another potential source of worsened well-being could be a transition, during which a person experiences transformations in their surroundings. Although such events frequently occur throughout life, the lack of adaptive competencies can reduce the individual’s ability to cope with the changes. From this perspective, a counselor’s task is to recognize situations that could hurt the community members, attempting to prevent possible complications (Lewis et al., 2010). For instance, the adverse consequences of institutionalization and related stigma can be factors contributing to the appearance of crises (Roth, 2021). However, counseling can help improve the population’s coping skills by helping them to gain better social support, life control, problem-solving competencies, and higher confidence levels.
Over the years, particular model outreach programs have been suggested, outlining at-risk populations and issues they could encounter. Marital disruptions between adults, conflicts in stepfamilies, adolescent pregnancies, and domestic violence affecting women and children have been outlined as the most prominent topics to be addressed by community-wide initiatives (Lewis et al., 2010). Activities focusing on veterans have also become extremely popular (Starbucks Stories & News, 2017). These programs can efficiently promote wellness among community members with low resources.
A separate branch of community counseling programs aims at assisting marginalized populations who are excluded from their communities. These individuals are frequently stigmatized and experience devastating pressure, which leads to personal crises. In these scenarios, the task of the community counselor is to restore the personal power of the affected clients, assisting them in removing the effects of external stressors and labeling. In the US, a particular issue with community empowerment is related to the mental health needs of the Latino population, whose well-being was disregarded due to the racial divide for a significant time (Lewis et al., 2010). However, currently, more community organizations are developing approaches to promote educational and cultural activities for Latinos, contributing to the improvement of their psychological welfare.
Some local programs have also been highly successful in addressing the needs of particular communities. As such, the Gaza Community Mental Health Program was especially efficient in mitigating the impact of stress and low resources in the Gaza Strip, a tremendously densely populated area (Lewis et al., 2010). The Brazilian Institute for Innovations in Public Health has also launched an initiative to address marginalization in Rio de Janeiro, focusing on the slums communities.
Lewis, J. A., Lewis, M. D., Daniels, J. A., & D’Andrea, M. J. (2010). Community counseling: A multicultural-social justice perspective (4th ed.). Cengage Learning.
Roth, A. (2021). The truth about deinstitutionalization. The Atlantic.
Starbucks Stories & News. (2017). Supporting veterans through coffee, conversation and connection. Web.