News: The Military and family life counseling program
Story by Lance Cpl. Joshua Brown
MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. – The military and family life counselor is the newest member of the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit. The military and family life counseling program offers a different avenue for service members and their families to use as a short-term resolution to a number of stresses.
The program provides education to help service members and their families understand the impact of stress, deployments, family reunions following deployments, and other emotionally challenging situations in military life.
The military and family life counselors provide a different set of skills and support methods than the other resources available to Marines and sailors. The family readiness officer and chaplains share some space with the MFLC, but the MFLC possesses a few perks and advantages.
MFLCs are not allowed to disclose any information regarding the nature of the sessions they have with individuals. They are not available for interview to maintain the integrity and credibility they have with their clients because of this.
Lisa Castleberry, the 26th MEU family readiness officer, said “The MFLC provides actual counseling, and I recommend counseling or different assistance to Marines and sailors so they can get the help they need.”
The counselor is a resource the FRO can recommend to an individual in need of assistance.
“It’s nice to have the MFLC here,” said Castleberry. “I can literally walk someone upstairs and they’ll have immediate access to a resource.”
She is not limited to the office. Counselors can meet individuals outside of work at a designated location excluding only the individual’s residence.
“The MFLC can recommend someone to another resource if she knows the individual needs assistance she cannot provide,” said Castleberry.
Counselors are required to attend a number of trainings annually to keep their credentials up to date, and must meet educational and experience requirements to be eligible for the position. They are contractors, and therefore are not constrained by the same regulations as Marines and sailors. This creates potential comfort for service members because the MFLC is not in a uniform, not a service member, and does not keep notes of the counseling sessions, maintaining confidentiality and anonymity.
Capt. Glenn T. Jensen, the 26th MEU law enforcement integration officer, was stationed at Marine Corps Recruit Depot San Diego, Calif., when the MFLC program was introduced.
“I was skeptical at first because it wasn’t explained very well,” said Jensen. “The people who briefed us were biased and opposed the program.”
The program is still new to many units. This has the potential to create a misunderstanding of the program while individuals are still unfamiliar with it.
“My impression was changed after working with Marines who were helped immensely by the MFLC,” said Jensen. “It wasn’t just how hard she worked or how passionate she was about her work that changed my mind, it was the positive impact she had on the lives of Marines and their families.”
Service members’ families have access to the MFLCs expertise. The MFLC provides families with situational support and counseling, as well as education on deployments and general military life.
“It’s an essential part of mission success,” said Jensen. “The commander, the chaplain, medical and the MFLC round out the health fire team that provide the support to make the mission possible.”
The MFLC is one of many resources available to Marines, sailors and their families. It adds an additional layer of support that sports an unbiased and sound perspective in situations that may challenge the individual.
“It makes me more effective in my job,” said Castleberry. “It’s nice to have someone I can call any time to assist the Marines and sailors or even myself.”
The counselors provide support for the entire command including contractors and non-service members.
“The success of MFLCs depend on the command’s interactions with them,” said Jensen. “If every command welcomed and embraced the MFLC, like we have at the MEU, I think they’ll find the program is effective and assists in mission success.”