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UNITED WAY YEAR OF CARING: Volunteer Counselors

Volunteer Counselors: Making Therapy Accessible at TWI

Women who need mental health services should get them, regardless of their ability to pay.

That’s the idea behind The Women’s Initiative, a Charlottesville nonprofit agency celebrating its tenth anniversary in newly renovated offices on East High Street.

TWI served 3,774 clients last year, making it a primary provider of mental health care in our area. That’s a milestone that couldn’t have been reached without the help of volunteer therapists.

“There’s a huge unmet need for accessible, affordable, effective mental health services for women who are uninsured or underinsured,” said Amanda Korman, the agency’s communications and outreach coordinator. “Our team of pro bono therapists is doing a tremendous amount of work and giving a tremendous gift to help solve that problem.”

But more volunteer therapists are needed, Korman said. TWI has walk-in clinics for short-term assistance. But there’s currently a waiting list for individual counseling sessions.

Some of the volunteer therapists work with as many as six clients, but therapists who only have time to see a single client are welcome. They can see clients at their own offices.

TWI also encourages retired therapists to consider volunteering. And in case you were wondering, male therapists are welcome, too.  The agency has worked hard to develop a diverse staff of therapists, some of whom are bilingual.

 “We are dependent on the generosity of therapists in our community who donate their time to serve our clients,” said Elizabeth Irvin, TWI’s executive director. “We are actively seeking new volunteers.”

Volunteering can be a rewarding experience on many levels, and therapists who sign up like it so much, they tend to stick around.

Aside from the satisfaction of helping individual clients, therapists can benefit from networking with peers and attending free clinical training sessions. They also love the opportunities to get creative in group therapy settings.

“Being a pro bono therapist connects you with a lot of resources,” Korman said.

Volunteers are also needed in support roles, such as child care (which is free to clients who come to the office for therapy sessions).

To learn more, watch this video, visit TWI’s volunteer opportunities page, or call (434) 872-0047.

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