For 70 years, The Guidance Center has provided comprehensive mental health treatment to bring help and hope to our community’s most disadvantaged children and their families.
We plan to celebrate this milestone in providing healing care with the community at our annual fundraising event: Sunset Sip. The event is hosted by Los Angeles Kings alumnus and television color analyst, Jim Fox, and sponsored by passionate mental health advocates like Alexandria and Luke Bergstrom who are this year’s Healing and Hope Sponsor.
Festivities will be held on Sept. 10 at the Museum of Latin American Art in downtown Long Beach and will include a wine tasting contest, light hors d’oeuvres, and a live and silent auction. Funds raised from Sunset Sip will support programs and services at The Guidance Center. For more information or to purchase tickets or a sponsorship, visit bit.ly/SunsetSip2016.
From the small basement of the old Seaside Hospital to our own nearly 40,000-square-foot headquarters in Long Beach with clinics in San Pedro and Compton, The Guidance Center has expanded over the past 70 years to meet the ever-growing mental health needs of the community’s most vulnerable population – children.
The agency was founded in 1946 as the Long Beach Mental Hygiene Clinic by a group of local public school teachers and counselors who were concerned about the mental health needs of children with behavior and learning problems in school.
Much like today, many children were struggling with debilitating feelings of anxiety, anger and fear. The small group of visionary psychiatrists and community leaders responded by forming the clinic to provide advanced treatment especially tailored to each child’s unique needs.
As the community grew so did the clinic. Today, we are a major community mental health service provider – employing more than 150 mental health professionals, support staff, administrators, and interns – that serves nearly 3,000 children and families annually across Long Beach, Compton, San Pedro and Catalina Island.
Due 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 first president of the board was Dr. James Houloose in 1946. And from that point, the board has played an integral role in advancing the agency, ensuring financial stability and securing adequate housing for our operations throughout the past 70 years.
Above all, the board has championed programs and services for our community’s most disadvantaged children and their families that would not otherwise be available.
Today, the agency is led a by 15-member board of directors composed of influential leadership from various segments of the communities we serve. With a collaborative approach, the board’s involvement has also brought about strategic fundraising initiatives that support various programs and services that allows us to reach underserved children within the community like never before.
The board’s personal fundraising has grown significantly and now boasts 100 percent board participation. In addition, the strong connections our board members have among our philanthropic communities have enabled many productive relationships.
We thrive as an agency because of their thoughtful governance.
Throughout our history, The Guidance Center has partnered with various community organizations to meet clients wherever they are. Partnerships with Long Beach Memorial Medical Center and Miller Children’s Hospital in the 1960s led to The Guidance Center housing its clinic and operations at Miller for a number of years. That partnership remains strong to this day through client referrals, a pre-doctoral psychology internship program and a collaborative two-year, full time pediatric postdoctoral fellowship at Miller.
To reach local students, we’ve collaborated with Long Beach Unified School District (LBUSD) throughout our history. LBUSD contributed staff to establish a Drug Abuse Clinic within the agency during the 1970s as concerns over the sudden rampant use of psychedelic drugs by youth swept the nation. In the 1990s, interns from The Guidance Center were placed within the schools through the Healthy Start initiative.
This collaboration led to the creation of The Guidance Center’s School-Based Services, which places therapists from The Guidance Center within more than 20 schools across LBUSD. Therapists work closely with school staff to identify and help students who are not reaching their academic and socio-emotional potential due to unmet mental health needs. Similar collaborations were formed with the Paramount and Lynwood school districts through The Guidance Center’s Compton clinic.
The need for child and family mental health services has never been unique to just Long Beach. To address this need, we opened two satellite clinics in the nearby, underserved neighborhoods of San Pedro and Compton.
The San Pedro clinic opened in the late 1970s. Today, this clinic provides out-patient services, including crisis intervention, individual, group and family therapy, and parenting education, to more than 500 clients living in the surrounding area and on Catalina Island annually.
In the summer of 1998, the clinic in Compton opened in the heart of the community. With a staff that has grown to more than 20, this clinic primarily provides specialized intensive treatment and field capable clinical services to meet the serious needs of children who are at risk of losing their school or home placements.
In the last decade, The Guidance Center has experienced considerable growth and has significantly increased the number of programs, clients served and community-based locations. To accommodate this growth and the increasing number of requests for treatment, we moved our collection of Long Beach offices from Bixby Knolls to a centralized headquarters on Anaheim and Pine in 2013.
This strategic move allowed the agency to not only consolidate much of its operations under one roof, but most importantly establish a facility in the heart of the neighborhood in which it serves. Now within walking distance to much of its Long Beach client base, the agency has eliminated transportation as a barrier to care.
Under the leadership of Patricia Costales, LCSW, The Guidance Center continues to seek new opportunities to partner with civic leaders and local organizations, educate the community about the complexities of mental illness and implement healing solutions.
“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.”