Martha’s Vineyard Community Services – Island Counseling Center

Jen Hawkins O'Hanlon, REALTOR®


Jennifer Vogel talks about what it’s been like at the Island Counseling Center during the Covid outbreak. The Island is very lucky to have her and this division of Martha’s Vineyard Community Services.

  • Hey everyone. Thanks for joining us. I am here with Jennifer Vogel, and she is the program director at the Island Counseling Center, which is part of the MV Community Services. And she is gonna give a little info about what’s been going on there during this whole crisis. And if you could, Jennifer, start with just a little bit about yourself first and how you became the program director there. Okay. I will. From a personal perspective, I resided on Martha’s Vineyard in the late ’90s and left early 2000s to return to my hometown with my daughter, always with the intention of returning to the Island. And during that time, I had the privilege of working with a few great organizations outside of Buffalo, New York, and a program similar to Island counseling center, behavioral health, outpatient. I worked primarily with adults and then I moved on to a diagnostic center for children in adolescents, and that was an inpatient unit. And then finally in New York, I moved on to what’s called Monsignor Carr children’s clinic in Niagara falls, New York. And I worked as a clinician there and eventually, began being the clinical supervisor. Always the intention of returning to the Islands. So my daughter graduated from high school and a friend who resides here strongly encouraged me to apply for the program director position I think it was September 2016, and just a few short weeks later we were relocating back to the Island.
  • Wow.
  • Yeah. So I’ve been the program director. I think it was officially from November, 2016 until now.
  • Great.
  • Yeah I don’t think I’ve taken a break yet, but Island Counseling Center is similar to the other agencies that I’ve been with. It’s an outpatient behavioral health and substance use treatment facility. It’s an outpatient basis, several programs within it. But primarily the service modalities are individual, group, couples, family. We have diagnostics and medication management, as well as in home therapy with therapeutic mentors and in-home therapy clinicians amongst the court ordered programs and so forth. So it’s your touch all through the lifespan outpatient behavioral health center.
  • Okay. And when everything happened, when things got shut down and you could no longer meet with clients, how did you switch things over? I guess you’ve been doing tele-health with zoom.
  • Yes That’s correct. Pretty much with everything, it just flipped very quickly. We are considered an essential program, but we did decide that we would move to tele-health. So that just involved equipping all the staff with laptops to be able to work remotely. And it’s really gone over very well. The majority of clients want to continue tele-health.
  • I was going to ask you that.
  • Yeah.
  • Yeah.
  • They do. Clinicians, it’s challenging. It’s a lot of work to be on the phone or on the computer all day. But it’s effective and we’re probably serving about 400 services a week. So there’s quite a lot going on.
  • Wow.
  • Yeah.
  • So has the demand for your services increased during the outbreak?
  • I don’t know if it’s demand. I think the demands have changed. When COVID hit so many of the Islanders suffered financial losses, loss of employment. When you have that stressor and then you have the psychosocial stressors involved with quarantine, it just sort of expands the need. People weren’t able to enjoy their normal coping activities. Suddenly you can’t socialize, can’t hug, can’t visit with friends and family. So I would say the needs expanded from financial to behavioral health, to substance
  • And on a level where people may not feel like they need to make an appointment, I know for myself and friends I’ve spoken to, there’s a lot of sort of anxiety and the unknown. I think that’s the hardest thing for me. I’m kind of a planner and not knowing if there’s going to be a spike or if we’re really getting out of the woods, or when things are gonna open up if they’re gonna open. So do you have anything that you can tell people who are making their way through things, but maybe need a little guidance or tips?
  • Absolutely. I think that there’s universal strategies. Just staying grounded and creating routines and sticking to them, particularly for people who are now working from home, making sure that you’re sticking to your working hours. It sounds like a broken record, but exercise, diet and sleep are really vital right now. Keeping that routine, eating healthy. And exercise could be anything from dancing in the living room to taking short walks. Just anything that gets your heart moving, blood flowing and movement in your body.
  • Uh-huh.
  • I would say participating in regular contact, whether it’s zoom or by phone, maybe every Saturday at 3:00 p.m., you touch baseball with a certain individual, try to maintain some positivity and keep those schedules going.
  • Uh-huh. Okay.
  • I think it’s also a good time to bring those projects from the back burner out, and make sure every day you feel like you’ve accomplished something.
  • I started like so many people making big lists for myself, and then I heard somebody say, just make a list, but make it really small, shorter than normal. And with homeschooling and working and trying to just keep the house together, because we’re in it all the time. And I think that that’s been good to sort of dial back and to do less sometimes is better .
  • Yeah. And you feel like you’ve accomplished something throughout the day.
  • Yeah.
  • Yeah.
  • Yeah. Pick something and get that accomplished.
  • Yeah.
  • And if I have put something on the screen here, and is that the best place to reach you if somebody wants to make an appointment?
  • Yeah.
  • This 693-7900 extension 290. That’s our essential intake number.
  • Okay.
  • And they can direct you to the best services.
  • Okay.
  • We have our Island intervention program, which is rather new in the last three years and that’s more of a crisis space, immediate needs. So we do offer appointments on the same day through other programs under Island Counseling.
  • Okay. Great. – If you dial 290, that person will get you to the right right program.
  • Perfect. Great. So I think just anybody can use that number?
  • Right.
  • Okay. Is there anything else that we’ve missed that you want to share?
  • No. I would say that, Island Counseling is here and we’re in it together. So–
  • And it is an affordable option, I can–
  • Yeah.
  • We didn’t talk about that.
  • Yeah. And even if it’s just some minor distress, we’re there. It doesn’t have to be a crisis to reach out.
  • Right. Great. Okay. And something I ask all of my guests, if you have a message of hope for the community, what would that be?
  • I might have to read this from a screen because it’s something that sticks in my mind. Michelle Obama had said it. Part of her speech was that, “Don’t ever underestimate the power of courage, because courage can be contagious, and hope can take on a life of its own.” So I would just encourage everybody to keep the hope and spread positive messages particularly on social media.
  • Okay.
  • And that can be the framework for becoming a stronger community.
  • I love that. It’s great. It’s something I haven’t really thought of, but yeah. If you see somebody else pressing on and being courageous and being positive–
  • It’s contagious.
  • Yeah.
  • Yeah.
  • Yeah.
  • Okay. Well, Jennifer, thank you so much for joining me. Thanks everybody for watching.
  • Okay.
  • And have a great afternoon.
  • Thank you.
  • Bye-bye.
  • Bye.


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