Q: Why did you get into counseling and working with children and teens in particular?
A: I started out working with adults…And, you would see the outcome of a childhood issue that never got resolved, or a prevention that never happened. I wanted to get away from the back end, 40 years of people trying to cope with the issue through alcoholism, drug addiction, and get to the youth who can live a more productive life if they can get those issues resolved early on.
Q: What kind of services are available to youth and children in this area?
A: There are 17 different child advocacy centers throughout the state including the Cooper Anthony Mercy Children’s Advocacy in Mena. We provide forensic medical exams, forensic interviewing, follow up advocacy and mental health services all under one roof. It is unique and challenging, but we are very effective in what we do in treating our clients. If young people (that have been affected by trauma) don’t get these issues addressed and if they don’t get the help that they desperately need, they are going to find a way to cope. And, usually, that’s not in a good way.
Q: My understanding is, that these services are available free to those who need it. Is that correct?
A: Yes. All of the services are free. It is for our clients who have gone through the referral process and who essentially, have been referred to us. But yes, all of our counseling, advocacy… all of that is free.
Q: For those who feel like this is something for them, a loved one, or someone they know, what do they need to do?
A: The best thing to do is call the Arkansas Maltreatment Hotline, 1-844-728-3244, or 1-844-SAVE A CHILD. That’s the best place to start. They will do an initial interview and go through the referral process. That will eventually lead them to a child advocacy center where they will be able to get the help they need.
Jason Waller is a counselor with Cooper Anthony Mercy Children’s Advocacy Center. He specializes in trauma focused cognitive behavioral therapy for children and teens.