Montclair Counseling Center (MCC), a nonprofit community resource that provided quality affordable mental health care to local residents, closed its doors on March 31, 2012. Since opening in 1972, 40-plus clinicians provided more than 225,000 visits to clients on a sliding fee basis.
To commemorate the center’s enduring and meaningful contribution to the community, the Board of Directors has organized “Celebrate MCC,” a free event on Sunday, June 10 from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. at the Presbyterian Church of Upper Montclair at 53 Norwood Avenue. Light refreshments will be served.
“The philosophy of MCC has always been to remove barriers to mental health care, and this has been realized through the generous support of individual donors and community organizations,” says Board President Mary W. Funari.
William R. Lutz, D.Min, began MCC as a pastoral counseling center, establishing it as a nonprofit corporation in 1972. By the early 1980s, Lutz had expanded the clinical staff into a multidisciplinary group, including licensed clinical social workers, psychologists, and psychiatrists who offered individual psychotherapy for children, youth and adults, couples counseling, group and family therapy. “In the early years, MCC filled a void by offering psychotherapy and counseling for handling life’s challenges when there were only a few psychiatrists and therapists in town, and medication was not needed,” says Board President Emeritus Edda M. Benedek, MD, an internist who practiced in the area for many years.
Furthermore, MCC provided free school-based counseling and psycho-educational programs in many of the Montclair Public Schools. MCC also sponsored parenting workshops and co-hosted the “Race to Nowhere” film and panel discussion at Montclair High School in November 2010.
As a community based counseling center, MCC supported professional development by offering workshops for local school counselors as well as clinical supervision. MCC served as a valuable training ground for new clinicians who benefitted from its referral base and supportive learning environment, moving on as they established a stable client base. Many former clinicians still live and practice in the community.
MCC’s clinical operations ceased on March 31, 2012 due to financial reasons. Changes in the healthcare environment and the economic downturn, leading to losses in the financial markets and losses in private funding, combined to make MCC’s business model unsustainable. At the same time, the number of clients seeking subsidized therapy grew from 19% of clients in 2005 to over 30% of clients in 2011.
The MCC Board of Directors thanks all of its community partners, especially Local Houses of Worship, The Jacobs Foundation, Junior League of Montclair-Newark, Inc., The Laraja Foundation, Montclair Community Intervention Alliance, The Montclair Foundation, Montclair Fund for Women, Montclair Health and Wellness Partnership, Montclair State University Network for Education Renewal, NJ Psychological Association Foundation, United Way, and The Whitehill Foundation.