our story

Groundbreaking Beginnings

In Long Beach during the 1940s, help for mental health challenges was difficult to find. Parents did not understand their children’s behavior. Communications had ceased to exist in some families. In others, abusive battles raged with children caught in the middle. Some children were anxious, fearful, angry or acted aggressively in school. Some sought suicide as an end to anguish and despair.

In 1946, a visionary group of local public school teachers and counselors responded by forming the agency to provide help and hope to these children and their families.

Providing Help and Hope

Thanks to our progressive volunteer Board of Directors, for more than 70 years, The Guidance Center has been able to build upon the legacy of our founders – anticipating the needs of our community and adapting as an organization to meet them.

Our therapists provide comprehensive mental health services that are evidence based and especially tailored to each child’s unique needs. Driven to remove barriers to accessing treatment, our therapists meet those children wherever they are – whether that’s in school, a hospital, their home, or foster care.

Headquartered in Long Beach, we expanded our services and opened two smaller clinics to meet the needs of disadvantaged children and families in the nearby communities of Compton, Lynwood, Paramount, San Pedro, and Avalon on Catalina Island.

Community Collaboration

At The Guidance Center, we don’t see ourselves as a service provider to the community. We see ourselves as neighbors.

We are much more effective in bringing hope and healing to the families who need us when we are an integrated part of the neighborhoods and communities where they live.

We collaborate with sister organizations, civic leaders, and community members so we can be joined in our efforts and our mission to help the families who need us most.

Expansive Growth

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 our operations under one roof, but most importantly establish a facility in the heart of the neighborhood in which we serve. Now within walking distance to much of our Long Beach client base, the agency has eliminated transportation as a barrier to care.

Bright Future

Today, we are a major community mental health service provider – employing nearly 200 mental health professionals, support staff, administrators, and interns – that serves more than 3,000 children and families annually across Long Beach, Compton, San Pedro and Catalina Island. 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.