Mental Health Services


Adolescent, adult + family mental health summary 

This Empowerment Center for Youth, Adult and Family outpatient Mental Health treatment model was developed jointly by Empowerment Center for Mental Health treatment staff and clinical researchers.  The development and evaluation of this intervention was supported by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA).  Empowerment Center, Mental Health (MH) Treatment Team contributed extensively to the development, testing, and implementation of this family-based treatment curriculum. 

 Our services include:

Mentoring Program

Our mentoring programming offers one-to-one life couching/mentoring services with graduate and post-graduate students of Bowie State University who volunteer their time or are serving in the capacity of an intern for their Master’s program or licensure track requirements. 

Case Management

A full-time case manager will provide direct care management for up to 15 families and our part-time case managers will serve up to 7 families, in partnership with a Chief Operating Officer (Part-Time) Overall Program Administrator, Case Manager/ Housing Specialist (Full-Time) and Case Management Supervisor, who will also provide support those same families.  Each case manager will develop each treatment plan; provide ongoing support and professional consultation to each family via weekly face-to-face meetings and ongoing telephone contact; help families to strengthen their parenting skills; assist families to secure needed community services; provide crisis intervention services; assess each assigned families progress toward accomplishment of their treatment goals; provide emotional support to each assigned family member as appropriate; assess the strengths and needs of families and other kin and assist them to visit and/or reunite with children  as appropriate; develop monthly and periodic reports for the courts; and advocate for each family  in court. 

We ensure that each family is assigned a case manager that shall be responsible for the direct care of every family member.  EC agrees to have primary responsibility for maintaining accurate case management information in the data-base system. It is our understanding that we will be required to maintain connectivity with the data-base system, in accordance with the following.

Program design

The objectives of the proposed case management program are:

  • To provide specialized assistance to persons in the District of Columbia who are homeless, uninsured, indigent and/or underserved;

  • To provide individualized, multiple session housing and risk-reduction counseling to help initiate and maintain behavioral change;

  • To assess risks of other at-risk issues such as unemployment, underemployment, sexually transmitted diseases, as well as other risky behaviors (substance use), and to ensure appropriate housing placement and retention;

  • To facilitate referral services for clients’ medical and psychosocial needs that affect their health and ability to change related risk–taking behavior; and

  • To provide information and referrals for job training, health insurance, employment services, housekeeping/hygiene and healthy food preparation education.

The following are essential components of our case management approach:

Client Recruitment and Engagement – the proposed program will recruit and accept referrals from Coolspring School as well as individuals and self-referrals. Each case manager will see one client at a time with a total caseload of up to fifteen active cases (FT) or 7 cases (PT). The case manager must see the client within 24 hours of referral. Case managers will be required to have a minimum of one (1) contact per week with families during the first three (3) months of providing services. This contact must be face-to-face and must take place in the home or community of the family. After the first three (3) months of services, case managers will be required to have a minimum of three (3) contacts per month with families. Of these three (3) contacts, two (2) must be face-to-face and must take place in the home or community of the individual/family.

Family engagement will normally take place on-site at the families’ living quarters. However, some meetings may take place in the home or at another designated location that allows for convenience and confidentiality of the families.

 Screening and Assessment – Upon initial client intake, families will be screened for initial eligibility of housing placement, insurance coverage needs, and entitlement’s eligibility.  Family screening will also include assessing risky behaviors, readiness to change risk behaviors and psychosocial supports. Specific areas of assessment will include: Health (including HIV serostatus); Adherence to HIV Related Treatment; STI History; Substance and Alcohol Use; Mental Health; Child Abuse and/or Neglect; Social and Environmental Support (employment, significant others, etc.); Skills to Reduce homelessness Risk; Barriers to Safer Behavior; Protective Factors, Strengths and Competencies; and Demographic Information. The assessment will be client centered, i.e., the client will present their needs and then the case manager will guide, probe and clarify using the assessment protocol.

Development of a Family-Centered Service Plan – Based on the initial intake assessment, the case manager and the client will develop a service plan with specific behavioral objectives and change strategies. These objectives will be specific, measurable, time-phased and realistic.  Both short term and long-term objectives may be proposed. However, it has been the experience of EC that two to four behavioral objectives at a time are achievable.   Interventions needed to change behaviors will include both primary and secondary interventions.  Primary interventions focus on changing behaviors to reduce homelessness and secondary interventions focus on adherence to other treatment planning goals as well as procurement of needed entitlements and other psychosocial support services. The service plan will also address appropriate activities, rooted in our culturally competent service delivery model, to ameliorate the needs of the client and will incorporate services, such as individual counseling; outreach, information, and referral services; educational assistance; crisis prevention/intervention services; and employment and skills training assistance.

Homelessness Reduction Counseling – Case managers will conduct interactive counseling sessions with families, applying a variety of strategies over multiple sessions to influence homelessness risk behavior change. At a minimum, case managers will demonstrate safer behavior options (bill paying, budgeting, financial planning, employment training) present information that corresponds to counsel families on perceived risk and vulnerability, self-efficacy, skill levels, environmental barriers, and social supports.  Counseling may include substance abuse and mental health counseling, in the short term, or referral to such services if there are severe problems indicated. Each Family will sign their individual case management plan, acknowledging their understanding, acceptance and willingness to implement plan in collaboration with their case manager.

Service Brokering and Follow-up – Case managers will facilitate referral of family in a timely, efficient and professional manner to housing sites.  Referral assistance will include identification of referral resource, serving as a liaison with referral resource, and addressing client questions regarding intake procedures of referral resource. Other assistance may include accompanying client to an appointment, providing transportation services or vouchers, ensuring the provision of childcare, ensuring translation or interpretation services, and providing families skills-building to support their ability to effectively advocate on behalf of themselves with referral resources. Case managers will also ensure that each family member who happen to have insurance are referred to services that can be paid for by private insurance prior to referring them to medical services.  Meanwhile the case manager will search for insurance eligibility for was family members without insurance and refer them to medical services.  

Specific services that case managers will broker for family members will include one or more of the following: Entitlements (Medicaid, Medicare, etc.); Medical and Home Health Services; Food and Nutrition Programs; Legal Services; Housing Alternatives; Alternative Therapies (such as massage and acupuncture); Referrals to Clinical Trials; Mental Health Services; Child or Respite Care; Substance Abuse Treatment; and Hospice Care. 

Case managers will be responsible for follow-up of referrals, ensuring that families have received the service and monitoring the outcome of the referral.

Monitoring Families’ Progress – Case managers will have regular, structured meetings at least once per week with families to informally assess their progress with the behavioral objectives set out in the service plan as well as to monitor the outcome of referrals. Depending upon progress, the case manager may need to revise the service plan accordingly.  A formal re-assessment of psychosocial issues should be conducted at 3-month, 6-month and at Discharge. Because retention in the program is critical to the success of case management, case managers will do assertive outreach such as home visits, providing incentives, visits to shelters, meeting with other allied helping professionals, to bridge the housing service gap. 

Discharge – Upon attainment and/or maintenance of housing objectives, a determination will be made between the family and the case manager as to whether they are ready for discharge from the program. Discharge will be based upon an exit evaluation of family’s progress and assurance that the family is connected to an integrated referral network of needed resources and services.

The following group services will be offered to the following areas:


A person has been exposed to a traumatic event in which the person experienced, witnessed, or was confronted with an event or events that involved actual or threatened death or serious injury, or a threat to the physical integrity of self or others.

The purpose of the group is to work with children, youth and adults on issues with dissociation.  Dissociation is a gift that everybody has to help them survive overwhelming events.  Trauma victims have informed researchers that it is a separation of the body and mind which occurs as a result of trauma, and the body is trapped in the traumatic event, but the mind escapes.  This is a highly developed survival skill which is recognizable from outside the victim by a fixed gaze with a slow or non-response to external stimuli or a marked change in mood, affect and/or behavior.

EC will use Incorporation Therapy (IT) which is a proactive approach that will act to stabilize internal crisis and chaos that is the hallmark of those suffering for Dissociative Disorders. The approach is two pronged.  The clients that will we serve are intelligent and creative, and these attributes have afforded them to escape within themselves, especially when they were small and physically defenseless. So, there is strong didactic component to the program which helps them to understand how and why they got the way they are.  This accomplishes a number of things.  To begin with it helps them to realize that they are not “crazy” and that they might possibly be able to get well. It is also starts to take some of the terror out of their experiences and frees them to begin to talk about what’s really going on inside them.  At that point they can begin to learn some techniques to help them stay grounded and present.  On the other hand, since these children, youth and adults have relied so heavily on their cognitive functioning to survive, it is best to work with them therapeutically from an emotional approach.     

IT focuses on the loss of self in the trauma episode.  Therefore, the identification, acceptance and forgiveness of self are important if the woman is to gain a healthy internal relationship with self.  In the final stage, IT is a client-centered revisiting technique that allows an individual to recover what they had lost during a traumatic event and resolve the emotional component connected to a memory of traumatic loss.  The group topics are the following: grief and loss, triggers, emotions and dependency, guilt and sorrow, and checking for safety and self-determination.  The clients will journal which can be a fun activity to teach women how to write or archive their feelings and experiences every day.

Life Coaching, Counseling & Psychotherapy

The cure for psychological problems is increased awareness of the "other agendas". Psychotherapy is the process that accomplishes this. The less aware we are of our motives, feelings, thoughts, actions, perceptions, the more they control us and the more we stay stuck in old patterns that don’t work anymore. Relief from symptoms lies in discovering and incorporating into our constant, every-day consciousness that which is being masked, distracted from, or indirectly "acted out" in symptoms. Virtually all psychotherapies work in this way, by expanding awareness (which is why the term "shrink" is so silly; psychotherapy is supposed to do the opposite). In fact, even when the focus of treatment is not symptom relief, when the goal is a general increase in contentment, power, freedom, happiness -- "self-actualization" it’s sometimes called -- the key is awareness.

 Purpose of Psychotherapy-In therapy clients will begin to reflect back on events in their lives that have gone unresolved. Clients will also analysis their dreams. Home assignments will be given.  Psychotherapy is a dialog. It is not a teaching session. The client present data, the therapist offers ideas about that data, as well as her own data – their feelings, their past experience, her own theories -- then you pick up the ball, and so on. Has the therapist helped the client discover truth about them self, their life, their feelings -- and is this material helping them make the changes they want -- or is he up a tree?  No therapist will be right all the time, of course, and it may be that the client expectations for change are unrealistic or misguided.

Violence and Victimization Groups

The Victims' Groups focus on the victim rather than the perpetrator, and the power to change the course of one's life. The goal of the group is for victims to begin to understand the problem of abuse and its realities for the entire family, to become aware of their life patterns, to set realistic goals, and to learn techniques for developing new patterns of their own choosing. The group format is designed so that the victim views the therapist as an advocate. This dynamic enables the victims to be honest and disclosing, knowing that their confidence will not be broken. The safety of the victim is always of primary concern.

Self-Awareness and Character-Building Groups

The goal of our Self-Awareness and Character Building (SACB) group sessions are to provide a process that facilitates and supports woman though the transition from incarceration to life in the community with a positive self and collective image and a clear view of their role in their family, their community, and society at large.  The SACB sessions provide developmentally challenging, culturally relevant experiences that aid females in the task of becoming socially conscious, productive members of society.  We promote in the sessions strong personal and collective identity, cultural values, self-reliance, and social responsibility.  The long-term outcomes of the SACB sessions are (1) to increase knowledge of and appreciation for ethnically relevant culture and traditions regarding family roles and community responsibility; (2) to introduce and help women to internalize ethnically relevant value system based on multi-cultural/holistic principles, and the principles of Unity, Self-Determination, Collective Work and Responsibility, Cooperative Economics, Purpose, Creativity, Faith, and Respect and Honor. These principles all promote cooperative interdependence; (3) for the client to develop goal assessment and goal setting skills though which to visualize and plan for a productive future; (4) to elevate consciousness in females about the effects of racism, discrimination, sexism, abuse, and violence, to facilitate healing; (5) to help females examine and understand their own individual spirituality and purpose in the world; (6) to assist females in developing communication, negotiation, conflict resolution, and other skills necessary for refraining from problematic and/or illegal behavior.

Our EC has a long history of providing effective services and programs to children, youth and adults.   From parent support programming to group counseling, we are experts in providing gender specific service delivery. 

Parent Support Groups

Parenting Program teaches parents how to pay attention to, and how to increase the times when their children are behaving appropriately. It also teaches effective limit-setting procedures so that parents will not feel victimized by their child's misbehavior.

The sessions will help parents to foster the following:

  • Effective identification of the developmental stages among children and youth.

  • Healthy family identity with the age and stage of their child

  • Extended family values

  • Self-esteem and advocacy skills

  • An understanding of abuse and neglect issues

  • An understanding of social and emotional disturbances