Christian Center for Family Counseling (CECAF)
Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic
Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic
The Dominican Republic suffers a situation of generalized violence. Alarming rates of overall violence, coupled with severe poverty also are reflected at family and local community levels through high rates of domestic violence and other family-related issues. The Christian Center for Family Counseling (CECAF) provides counseling and therapy to families that are victims of violence, poverty, sickness, infidelity, and other problems. CECAF also trains professional therapists who are enrolled in Masters and PhD programs in family therapy, in coordination with the University of Santo Domingo. In addition, CECAF trains local pastors in family therapy and counseling through short and long workshops and courses.
During 2008, the Christian Center for Family Counseling (CECAF) accomplished many important things. It formed a professional group of fifteen family therapists and community facilitators from the Master’s Program of Family Counseling at the University of Santo Domingo to help provide family counseling to the local community. Three hundred new families entered counseling, bringing the total of the program up to 8,000 families at the end of 2008.
CECAF participated in the creation of the Family Code of the Dominican Republic and was regularly present at government initiatives. CECAF provided support for the evaluation of parents in the process of adoption by the National Cabinet for Children’s Affairs. CECAF also supported schools and universities in the psychiatric evaluation of their students.
In order to accomplish all of this, CECAF was certified in courses on the family and family communication, and advertised their organization using many different mediums including radio, television, and the newspapers. They also held conferences and talks at businesses, churches, and other institutions.
At the church level, CECAF supervised the Center for Popular Therapy at the Evangelical Dominican Church Las Arras. They provided psychiatric services in traumatic situations and for people with personality disorders. The group accompanied pastors in situations of family crisis as well as problems in their congregations, and continues supporting the project for pastor’s families with few economic resources.
CECAF has faced some challenges also, including their efforts to consistently attracting professionals who share the vision of CECAF, coupled with the need for continuing education for the clinic staff, both professional and administrative. Publicity is very costly but is necessary to inform people about their services. It also is difficult to earn sufficient income from their services to maintain the institution and serve a greater number of client families who are also economically limited.
In order to keep the facility up and running, CECAF has set some short and long term goals. Their short term goals include becoming certified in family networking counseling; the formation of church facilitators in family counseling; the opening of a department of Learning and Language Therapy; creation of a web page; continuing education for clinical and administrative personnel; opening of an extension center in the Northern Region of the country; incorporation of CECAF as a lender of psychological and psychiatric services for the National Social Security System; and the gathering of economic resources for social projects.
Long term, CECAF would like to someday launch their radio and television programs “In the Family with CECAF.” They would also like to create an informational magazine by the same name. To further promote the organization, they wish to launch a national awareness campaign to promote family ideals of non-violence and respect. CECAF would also like to develop a system of documenting the discoveries of the Dominican family dynamic that they find in their practice.