PHOTOS: Left to right: Anne Patterson, Benjamin Wiley, Connie Tomlin
Virginia Tech's Counselor Education program and Warm Hearth Village (WHV) were recently recognized with a Promising Practice Award by the Mather Institute. This award highlights organizations working with older adults, in a variety of settings, using unconventional practices and developing and implementing innovative approaches.
Matthew Fullen, Assistant Professor of Counselor Education at Virginia Tech noted continuing care retirement communities are known for offerings designed to enrich multidimensional wellness in their residents. This can include programming geared toward social, physical, intellectual and spiritual well-being. The Counselor Education program recognized the need for emotional support for seniors and partnered with WHV in 2018 to launch an innovative program with graduate students in counseling to provide counseling to village residents free of charge. Individual, couples, and group counseling services have been provided to residents in independent living, assisted living, skilled nursing, and long-term care, resulting in a diverse array of opportunities to address unmet mental health needs and promote emotional well-being.
The partnership is in its third year, and continues to innovate to meet changing circumstances around Covid-19. Using telehealth to provide caring, confidential conversations about how residents are maintaining their well-being in the face of a pandemic is the next frontier for this unique partnership.
Benjamin Wiley said he gets to learn from his WHV clients every day. “It is a privilege to witness the tremendous strengths possessed by older adults, and they are showing how important mental health and emotional wellness are in these communities. I'm excited to continue advocating for the needs of this community in my future career as a counselor."
WHV congratulates these counselors on their award and thanks them for their immeasurable help during a trying time and over the last three years.