Free counseling sessions available for loved ones

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, May 12, 1999

By DEBORAH CORRAO / L’Observateur / May 12, 1999

“People are in shock now,” said Diane Leonard, administrator of St. JohnClinical Counseling, a branch of Associated Catholic Charities. “Whenthings start to settle down in a week or two is when people may start looking for mental health services.”Leonard, a board certified social worker, said St. John Clinical Counselingis offering two free counseling sessions to people coping with the grief of losing loved ones in Sunday’s fatal bus accident. Additional sessions willbe provided on a sliding fee scale based on income.

According to Leonard, in the immediate aftermath of the accident people are having difficulty seeing clearly and are just trying to understand what has happened. The next month or two, she said, will be the most criticalfor those going through the grief process.

“Not everyone will need help,” she says. “Some will have strong supportfrom family, friends and from within the community.”But, she said, all survivors will be impacted in different ways.

Leonard is encouraging anyone who may be having trouble coping with grief to seek counseling.

She said the signs to look for that you or a loved one may be having difficulty dealing with grief are sleep problems, recurring thoughts about the accident, serious concerns about survival, consuming thoughts about death or constant crying spells.

If you are a family member is in need of mental health services, you can contact Leonard at St. John Clinical Counseling at 652-4330. The office islocated at 1706 Cannes Drive in LaPlace.

The St. John Parish branch of the American Red Cross is also providingservices by trained Red Cross counselors.

Barbara Mitchell, manager of the ARC St. John branch, said you can receivethose services by calling the branch at 652-9963.

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