by Savanna Kearney

The Diocese of St. Augustine is working to form a network of local Catholic therapists and counselors that can be used as a resource for those members of the diocese seeking counseling.

A luncheon was held at the Catholic Center Oct. 16, in which local Catholic therapists were invited to apply and enroll in the network.

According to Ann Crowder, a licensed counselor and victim advocate for the diocese, there is a need for a Catholic counselor resource because the diocese and Catholic Charities no longer have resources for such purposes.

“They’re getting calls for referral, and that’s the purpose of this,” said Crowder, “hopefully to come up with some names to whom we can refer.”

Some people may feel more comfortable talking with a counselor who is Catholic because they understand the beliefs and practices of the church.

“So, most of the time, if people want a Catholic counselor, they feel it’s somebody that understands where they’re coming from,” she said.

Father Mark Waters, pastor of St. John the Baptist Catholic Church in Atlantic Beach, who was a presenter at the luncheon alongside Ann Crowder, said that he would conduct interviews with the counselors and go over the American Council Association code of ethics with them.

“There are hundreds of therapists in the Jacksonville area,” Father Waters said. “There aren’t a lot of really good ones, unfortunately. So, we want the diocese able to refer somebody who holds Catholic values and is still professional and very well qualified.”

The information gathered from the luncheon will be compiled into a pamphlet that the diocese, parishes and ministries can use as a resource.

For more information, email familylife@dosafl.com or call (904) 551-2619.