A counseling center located within The Episcopal Church of the Ascension in Lexington Park has partnered with Serenity Place to promote quality and affordable mental health services throughout the community.

The Pastoral Counseling Center of St. Mary’s is a long-standing therapeutic resource located in Lexington Park, known for providing affordable, professional counseling from a Christian perspective.

According to a release, two long-standing cornerstones of PCC, Betty Joanne Scott, executive director and clinician, along with her husband, Arthur Scott, who was also a clinician, have retired. In their wake the group announced a new partnership with Serenity Place LLC, a counseling and therapy practice based in Leonardtown, whose focus is on marriage and family issues, grief and bereavement, anxiety, depression and trauma.

While Joanne and Scott have been with the Pastoral Counseling Center for 13 years, Joanne told Southern Maryland News last week they’ve worked with over 4,000 people through the years and have “really enjoyed” their time working there. She added, although she had nothing to do with the partnership, there are “an awful lot of possibilities” to strengthen the ability to provide mental health services to the community.

Iman Syler, executive director of the PCC, said last week to prepare for the retirement of their two main clinicians, the nonprofit began conversations about how best to move forward.

“We thought about it, prayed about it … and dreamed together,” she said, adding it became clear they would have to hire more counselors or partner up with another center.

According to Syler, Serenity Place is a “known entity in St. Mary’s County with a group of excellent counselors.” Additionally, Syler claimed the centers were a good match because of their similar ideologies.

The partnership between both organizations will promote Christian, quality and affordable mental health services throughout the community, she said, and will put the PCC in a position to explore additional therapies such as spiritual direction, play therapy, group work, pre-marital preparation and marriage and family work.

The counseling center is also looking forward to having more opportunities to fund-raise for spiritual growth, Syler mentioned, as well as getting together with existing congregations in the Southern Maryland area, “allowing the gospel of Jesus Christ to provide healing through mental health to the people who desire to have it.”

When asked how the partnership was established, Esther Vanderwal, president of Serenity Place, said they heard the counseling center was trying to figure out how to move forward with operations and decided to reach out about partnering up.

“We started meeting and having discussions,” she said. “Our organizations are based on faith and Christian beliefs … we both have the same vision in mind.”

One clinician from Serenity Place has begun seeing clients at the center and soon a second one will, too.

“We’re really excited about finding ways to serve the community … and use God’s tools whenever we can,” Vanderwal said, mentioning the partnership has the potential to grow and bring new therapies to those who need it most.

According to the release, Syler said “Working together, we can more fully meet the varied and changing wellness needs and opportunities in our community, from Leonardtown to Lexington Park to every home and neighborhood throughout Southern Maryland.”

For more information, or to schedule an appointment, visit www.pfccsomd.org, or call 301-863-9333

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