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Antonia Busch ’16 joins Catholic Char­ities staff as a coun­selor based at St.Anthony’s in Hillsdale. COLLEGIAN | Eliz­abeth Bianchi

 

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.