Volunteer Counseling

Pioneering Work

Since 1970, VCS Inc. of Rockland County, New York, has pioneered the innovative use of community lay people to do high-level counseling for clients with a wide range of serious social problems.  In 1970, a group of family court judges in New York State expressed concern that many families seeking aid through their courts appeared to be in need more of counseling assistance than of judicial remedies. Child abuse, domestic violence, parent-adolescent conflict, and post-divorce problems were only some of the difficulties for which the judges were asked to provide solutions. A Ford Foundation grant was secured to test this hypothesis. Nearly fifty years later, VCS Inc. is an established part of the service delivery system in Rockland County. The agency works closely with the family court, schools, the Rockland Family Shelter, and other community agencies. VCS counsels residents of Rockland County and works with court-mandated referrals and voluntary self-referrals. The community often turns to VCS when a local problem is not being well addressed.

VCS Clients

VCS counsels battered women, teenagers, parents of teens, men who batter, people with marital problems, people with reactive depression, and families experiencing divorce or illness. VCS also works with people who are struggling with issues of aging, caregivers of the elderly, parents who are abusive or neglectful of their children, and people with reactive anxiety. VCS provides individual, couples and family counseling to adolescents and adults. You do not need to have health insurance and do not need to be a US citizen or documented to receive services.  A client who is motivated to continue counseling finally may attempt real changes in his or her life - leaving a marriage, changing jobs, going back to school, developing a talent or interest, or risking new relationships.

VCS Volunteers

​We find that almost all people have the ability to work through their concerns if they have a safe place to talk with a good listener. Counselors at VCS are therefore trained to create a safe, non-judgmental and supportive space for you to share and work through your concerns.The profile of a typical volunteer has changed over the years. In 1970, many volunteers were women at home raising school-age children.  A recent training group included two psychiatric nurses, a child care worker, the assistant to a college dean, a real estate broker, a lighting technician, a vocational rehabilitation counselor, a veterinarian's assistant, two homemakers, and a teacher. Recent groups also have included an increasing number of men.

Funding for VCS

VCS originally was funded by a Ford Foundation grant, which diminished gradually over several years. Currently, VCS is funded by the Rockland County Departments of:  Mental Health, Office for the Aging, Probation, Social Services, and Youth Bureau; The Rockland County District Attorney's Office,The United Way of Rockland, NYS Medicaid, NYS Medicare, NYS Office of Mental Health, NYS Office for the Aging, and the NYS Office of Children & Family Services, The US Department of Justice, as well as private and corporate donations. Clients in many programs pay fees on a sliding scale. Although the agency is economical in its use of volunteers, VCS has fixed costs for rent, telephones, electricity, printing, and postage. As the range of services expands, the need for space and clinical support expands. Thus, the need to raise funds through special events, corporate donations, and special grants is an ever-present reality.

For more information on the VCS counseling model and early history we provide a reprinted article from: SOCIAL WORK Volume 36, Number 3, May 1991, entitled: Volunteer Counselors: An Innovative, Economic Response to Mental Health Service Gaps. Click here for the article.

We find that almost all people have the ability to work through their concerns if they have a safe place to talk with a good listener. Counselors at VCS are therefore trained to create a safe, non-judgmental and supportive space for you to share and work through your concerns.

Counseling sessions take place once per week for 50 minutes. We are open most days from 9am-9pm. All counseling is completely confidential.

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VCS Inc. 77 South Main Street, New City, NY 10956
Tel (845) 634-5729 | Fax (845) 634-7839
© VCS 2020