While Hillsdale County residents have already been using Catholic Charities’ forensic interviewing services for children who have been sexually or physically abused in Jackson and Lenawee County, now residents can have a local Catholic Charities option for therapy.
Beginning this August, Antonia Busch ‘16 joined the full-time staff of St. Anthony’s Catholic Church in Hillsdale as a professional counselor through Catholic Charities.
Busch studied psychology at Hillsdale College and then went on to attend Franciscan University where she earned her master’s degree in clinical mental health counseling.
She said she “fell in love with psychology at Hillsdale” where her professors led her “to see the beauty of psychology.”
This encouraged her, she said, to pursue a degree in counseling at Franciscan.
“I fell in love with the way hearts can be transformed and I want to help people find that freedom,” Busch said.
According to Sue Lewis, executive director of Catholic Charities of Jackson, Lenawee, and Hillsdale Counties, Busch is the first counselor that Catholic Charities has placed locally in Hillsdale.
“We knew that one service area that was lacking in Hillsdale County was in mental health counseling,” Lewis said.“We struggled with trying to find a therapist to cover that site.”
She also added that Catholic Charities has been trying to grow their services in Hillsdale over the past few years, primarily in the areas of foster care, adoption, and with their substance abuse counseling contract with the Michigan Department of Corrections. Because of this, when Father David Reamsnyder, parochial administrator of St. Anthony’s, contacted Lewis with news that he had a therapist that was interested in working for his parish, Lewis was eager to discuss the possibility of sharing the therapist so that Catholic Charities could have a stronger presence in Hillsdale County.
“We have a substantial number of children from Hillsdale County in our foster care program and having a therapist in Hillsdale who could see those children in therapy was a definite win for us,” Lewis said.
So with St. Anthony’s and Catholic Charities splitting the cost of Busch’s salary, the two agreed to employ Busch in Hillsdale in a space owned by the parish.
Reamsnyder also gave permission for the foster care program to use two rooms in the old school building for supervised visitation and specialized play therapy services for children.
“Antonia is an employee of Catholic Charities which is beneficial for her as a limited license therapist,” Lewis said. “We are able to provide the supervision and necessary training she needs to move forward in her career as a therapist. It is a win-win-win for all three parties: St. Anthony’s Parish, Catholic Charities, and Antonia.”
The parish of St. Anthony’s has been supportive throughout the process, with personal donations adding to that put forth from Catholic Charities toward the transformation of the church space for the project. Reamsnyder has reiterated his support for the endeavor from the front of the church, pulpit, in open parish meetings, and to the Parish Council as well.
Although Reamsnyder has generally focused on the new counselor benefitting St. Anthony’s parishioners, he has informed the congregation that “Catholic Charities services everyone,” so this will also benefit the community at large.
Busch added that her door is “open to anyone in the community,” but so far she has been primarily seeing parishioners and referrals through Catholic Charities.
“Counseling is not from a specifically Catholic point of view,” she said. “I let them know that I am Catholic but I am not qualified to give spiritual direction. I am here to focus on mental health.”
Busch added that most of the counselors Catholic Charities employs are not catholic. In fact, there are just two catholic beliefs that they are explicitly required to uphold in their counseling: their counsel must be pro-life and they can only promote traditional marriage.