Since 1946, The Guidance Center has broken down barriers and pioneered new ways to meet the unique and ever-growing mental health needs of the urban community’s most vulnerable population – children.


The vision to build healthy, safe communities and a passion to lead children toward positive, productive futures has driven The Guidance Center’s continued growth over the course of its 75-year history.


“We’re proud of The Guidance Center’s rich history and feel honored to serve so many brave children and their families every day,” said Patricia Costales, LCSW, CEO of The Guidance Center. “Our vision as an agency is about access – a community where all children have the help they need to be healthy and happy. We’re continuing to work toward making that a reality, and we’ve made great progress. But as we plan for the future, we know there is still so much more that needs to be done.”


Thanks to the visionary leadership of The Guidance Center’s volunteer board of directors, the agency has been able to anticipate the needs of the community over the years and adapt as an organization to meet them. The board, which comprises influential leadership from various segments of the communities The Guidance Center serves, has championed programs and services that would not otherwise be available.


At its first location in the basement of the old Seaside Hospital in Long Beach, The Guidance Center, then called Long Beach Mental Hygiene Clinic, focused its services on individual, group, family and play therapy especially tailored to treat each child’s unique needs. These services continue to be offered and have paved the way for the agency to provide additional services that address and care for the needs of the entire family.

Today, The Guidance Center is a major community mental health service provider, with its own nearly 40,000-square-foot headquarters in Long Beach and clinics in San Pedro and Compton. Each location is strategically located within the heart of the community it serves to further eliminate barriers to treatment, like transportation.


Under the thoughtful governance of the 16-member board, The Guidance Center employs more than 160 mental health professionals, support staff, administrators, and interns, and serves nearly 3,000 children and families annually across Long Beach, Compton, Lynwood, Paramount, San Pedro and Catalina Island.


Key partnerships with various community organizations and institutions have also provided opportunities to meet clients wherever they are – and at every stage of development.


Partnerships with Long Beach Memorial Medical Center and Miller Children’s and Women’s Hospital that began in the 1960s continue to flourish to this day through client referrals, a pre-doctoral psychology internship program and a collaborative full-time pediatric postdoctoral fellowship at Miller.


A collaboration with Long Beach Unified School District (LBUSD) as early as the 1970s later led to the creation of The Guidance Center’s School-Based Services, which places therapists at more than 20 schools within the district. Similar collaborations have been formed with the school districts in Paramount and Lynwood through The Guidance Center’s Compton clinic and with Los Angeles Unified School District through the San Pedro clinic.


This last year. in the midst of the COVID19 pandemic, The Guidance Center remained committed to meeting the needs of its clients by shifting its service delivery to telehealth care. Staff went above and beyond, seeing its most vulnerable clients in the office – safely and masked.  And, when there was a serious crisis such as a suicidal child, staff went to the home in the safest way possible. The Guidance Center partnered with donors to establish a Client COVID-19 Emergency Fund to provide emergency assistance to clients struggling to meet critical basic needs such as food, utilities or rent. 


The Guidance Center has touched the lives of thousands of children and families.  As we embark on this 75th anniversary, we invite you to share your most memorable Guidance Center moments with us – ways The Guidance Center has made an impact in your life or in your community.  Share your stories by emailing Lorraine Lyou, Chief Development Officer, at or on our social media sites – Facebook, Instagram, Twitter.  It is our hope that we can celebrate your successes while we celebrate ours!


“At The Guidance Center, we don’t just provide services to our communities; we are a part of the communities we serve,” said Costales. “Change is possible – one child, one family and one community at a time.”