$600,000 in pro bono mental health services to our community.
14,000 hours of mental health services annually.
4,000 children, youth and adults receiving counseling, psychotherapy and support group services.
4 specialized programs unique in our community: The Marriage & Family Therapy Institute, The Link's NRC, Children in Crisis & Grief and Enriched Living: A Program for the Aging, Their Families, and Caregivers.
49 years of healing and hope
1 gift from you makes all this possible in our community!
In 1971 the metropolitan Atlanta community came together to address the emotional and mental health needs of adults, families, couples, youth and children who were experiencing difficulties in various aspects of their lives. Many could not afford mental health services. Clearly an affordable counseling center was needed and The Link Counseling Center, a non-profit charitable organization, was established. A concerned group of citizens in Sandy Springs met under the direction of Gene Steinmann to create a resource for teenagers and their families. Gene Steinmann, along with Mike Disney, worked diligently with county officials, local businesses and Georgia State University to obtain funding and find a home for a much needed community counseling center. The Link was one of the first centers in the nation to become a family counseling center. Today, many of its staff members are considered pioneers in the field of marriage and family therapy as well as experiential psychotherapy.
Greg Dixon was the first Director and Elizabeth Scott the first Clinical Director. The Link, housed in a donated facility, provided with a part-time staff provided 600 pro bono hours of service. Local volunteers were trained to provide telephone counseling. Professionally trained therapist, offered counseling and psychotherapy sessions as well as provided training for the volunteers. Dan Mermin, Harley Strickland, Sherry McHenry and Elaine Gibson were among the first group of professional therapist to work at The Link. Iris Bolton began as a volunteer at The Link in 1971. From 1972 to 2007, Iris served as Executive Director along with Administrative Director Sandra Sacker (1976 - 2001) and Clinical Director Gene Bridges (1976 - present). Iris is currently Director Emeritus.
Since 2007, Executive Directors, Gene Bridges and Janet Mainor along with a committed clinical staff and core of volunteers have continued the mission of The Link to provide affordable mental health services.
The Link Counseling Center, begun in response to community in crisis center, continued to grow as a comprehensive community counseling center. Below are some of the highlights of The Link's growth.
National Resource Center for Suicide Prevention & Aftercare
In 1977, Iris Bolton's son completed suicide. Through this loss she recognized the overwhelming need for assistance and support after death by suicide. Iris received her master's degree in suicidology from Emory University and created SOS (Survivors of Suicide) support groups. This group model has become the model for similar programs throughout the nation. The founding of a local chapter of Compassionate Friends and a program to provide immediate grief support through home visits, on-going grief groups for surviving families, and community education for suicide prevention now are part of the services of the NRC.
In 1995 Elaine Gibson (1971 - present) established The Link's Training Institute. Elaine and Derek Economy (1984 - present) created a residency program for post master's graduate students. For many years, the Institute was one of only a few non-university sites accredited to provide educational courses for professional licensure. As these courses became more widely available, the Institute made it's focus to provide clinical training and supervision.
In the early nineties, requests for children's services tripled. The Link responded by expanding its Children in Crisis and Grief program. "The House Next Door" was established as a special meeting place for children and youth - many of whom had experienced the death of a family member.
The year 2000 brought a further expansion to The Link. The Sandy Springs campus grew to include a new building to house its growing programs. The building provided new offices for The Link's NRC, a dedicated space for children and youth's support groups, and outdoor healing space such as the Life Affirmation Garden and The Children's Memorial Garden. The KENDEDA campus also grew to provide the community with a 7-circuit labyrinth often used as a calming and meditative space.
Enriched Living: A Program for the Aging, Their Families & Caregivers
In 2014, The Link expanded it's outreach to help bridge connections between generations. The Link was one of the first centers in the nation to become a family counseling center. We expand our focus now to offer family psychotherapy to those individuals and families addressing the multiple complexities of aging, caregiving and intergenerational relationships.