Hinesville’s Fraser Counseling Center, located next to the YMCA, offers counseling programs and services that meet the needs of the whole person — mind, body and spirit, according to Executive Director Dr. Alan Baroody.
“Most of my work is administrative and community networking, but I do carry a heavy case load as well,” he said. “I’d say better than 65 percent of the cases we handle are active-duty soldiers and their (family members). We have a book that published many of our cases called ‘Families Under Fire.’ My chapter deals with spirituality during a time a war.”
Baroody said studies have shown that up to 50 percent of soldiers have mental or emotional issues when returning from Iraq or Afghanistan, usually combat stress from the length of deployments, number of deployments and intensity of engagement during deployment. He said all these factors come into play in regard to a soldier’s resiliency.
“What we do is much like de-fragging a computer,” he said. “While they’re in a war zone, soldiers tend to focus on what they’re doing so they can stay alive and accomplish the mission. When they come home, the sights, smells and feelings they suppressed during the war come back to them. I’d say more often than not, most soldiers become emotionally numb. This affects not only their lives but the spouses and children as well. We try to help the soldier and the separate family members, including children.”
The Fraser Counseling Center provides professional counseling, community education workshops and emotional support within a Christian environment, Baroody said.
A nonprofit, non-denominational, faith-based counseling center, he said Fraser Counseling Center offers behavioral health services for individuals, families and community organizations with a staff of multi-disciplinary mental-health professionals and educators, including licensed clinical social workers, licensed marriage and family therapists, pastoral counselors and psychologists.
“I’ve been here a little over 10 years,” said Baroody, who also is a Presbyterian minister. “I was pastor of a church on Jekyll Island when I was contacted about this job. Believe me — I was living on an island and serving my people as a pastor; I didn’t want to leave. But I learned that Dr. (Whit) Fraser believed the same thing I do — that you have to help the whole person to really be a help to him.”
Baroody said he and his staff prefer to work with the client’s faith, if that’s possible. He noted that as a three-part being (mind, body and spirit), if a person has a problem with one part, say the body, it eventually tends to affect the mind and even the spirit. This concept is similar to the discipline of psychosomatic medicine, which, for example, notes that headaches can be caused by mental and emotional stress. Baroody said that if the client prefers not to talk about faith, his staff works within secular guidelines to help him or her.
The Fraser Counseling Center was established as the Mary Lou Fraser Foundation for Families Inc. in 1986 by Dr. Whit Fraser, who was a pioneer in holistic health care in Liberty County. Baroody notes that the foundation’s funds have long since run out and the center now is dependent on its fees and fundraisers to provide its many services. He said even though military clients comprise most of their cases, the fees charged on the basis of what military insurance carriers cover barely are enough for the center to break even.
“We accept most all types of insurance, except Medicare and Medicaid,” he said. “We also have a sliding fee scale that is based on ability to pay. Although I never got to meet Dr. Fraser, one thing I heard and believe about him is that he never let inability to pay stop him from helping a patient. We try to continue that philosophy here.”
In addition to counseling, Baroody said, the center offers anger-management classes, job coaching and even drug screening. Tours of the facility are conducted at least once a month for those interested in checking the place out before making a more personal visit. For tour dates and times, call 396-2030. The center is open from 9 a.m.- 5 p.m. Monday through Friday.