APU's Community Counseling Center Cares

by Brianne Martin '13

Next to Baskin-Robbins in the parking lot across from Azusa Pacific’s East Campus, a community-based center holds fast to APU’s God First motto, making a difference in Azusa and the surrounding area. The Community Counseling Center (CCC) began in 1989 as an outreach ministry of the university’s Department of Graduate Psychology. Since then, it has developed into an integral part of the community, serving more than 300 families and 250 adults each year by providing quality and affordable counseling services. The center’s Executive Director Mark J. Souris, Psy.D., is focused on continuing to expand its healthy impact.

“People come to the Community Counseling Center because they are in distress,” said Souris. “We provide them with a range of competent mental health treatment services from qualified and devoted people who care.” The CCC offers different treatments for a large spectrum of problems and disorders. “Services are ultimately responsive to the unique needs of the client,” said Souris. For example, the center offers therapy for anxiety, depression, marital and pre-marital issues, spiritual matters, grief, and family dilemmas.

The Community Counseling Center also focuses on being accessible to a diverse population of clients. They provide services in English, Spanish, Chinese, Korean, Japanese, and Armenian. Also, the center’s service fees are determined by a sliding scale based on the client’s income so that the client’s therapy is always affordable.

For graduate students on the path to becoming marriage and family therapists or clinical psychologists, the center serves as a training facility. These student interns provide therapy to clients while under the supervision of licensed therapists. One of these interns, Gabriel Salas, listed the benefits that come with being a student intern at the CCC. “Working here gives me the opportunity to develop what I have learned in the classroom,” said Salas. “Because I am supervised by a licensed therapist, I never feel alone and I always have someone to ask for suggestions and feedback.”

One of Souris’s goals for the center is to draw pre-doctoral clinical psychology interns from all areas of the United States. Souris’s first priority, however, is to let the local community know that the CCC is there for them. “The community should know that we’re here to help and that we are a valuable mental health resource for them,” he said.

In the meantime, Souris remains dedicated to the center’s mission of providing valuable counseling and consulting services. He implemented a client satisfaction survey to help the center retain its focus. “The surveys are in English and Spanish and are for both adults and children. They ask questions such as ‘Did the service you received meet you needs?’” said Souris. “On those surveys, we get a lot of ‘very goods’ and ‘strongly agrees.’” Souris explained that these results are a testament to the positive impact the center is making, one that he hopes will continue as the Community Counseling Center provides high quality mental health treatment services and spreads the message that they care about the community.

For more information about the Community Counseling Center, call (626) 815-5421.