|Photo cutline: (left) Tammy Hurst, President of Kentucky Counseling Association, presents Wendell “Dale” Hamilton with the 2016 Outstanding Mental Health Counselor Award.
PAINTSVILLE, Ky. — Wendell “Dale” Hamilton, a Christian Appalachian Project (CAP) counselor, has been named the 2016 Outstanding Mental Health Counselor by the Kentucky Counseling Association (KCA). Hamilton, who has been with CAP since 2008, has a personal connection to his profession.
“When I was in high school, I had two grandparents who were terminally ill. I witnessed the care they received from health care professionals,” Hamilton recollected. “From that time on, I knew I wanted to do something where I helped people like those who had helped our family.”
Hamilton served as a psychiatric aide when he was just 19. He started on a path to become a nurse, but the door always seemed to be closed. After time in the Army and getting to work in mental health services, he found his passion.
“I finally found the way I could help people,” said Hamilton, past president of the local Mountain Chapter of the Kentucky Mental Health Counseling Association and current president of the Kentucky Association for Adult Development and Aging, a division of KCA.
CAP’s Family Life Counseling Service has been at work in Eastern Kentucky for the past 30 years serving children, their families, and seniors. Hamilton has witnessed first-hand the difference that providing professional counseling services can make in local communities.
“There is a stigma attached to seeking mental health services in general. What is unique in Appalachia is that the culture sees seeking help as a weakness,” said the Floyd County native. “People feel like you should just be able to get over it. We help children and adults that find themselves in very difficult circumstances. Without CAP, there would be thousands of children, their parents, and seniors who need services who would not have access to this kind of care.”
Family Life Counseling Service is a primary care provider for many local referring agencies, including medical clinics, social service agencies, churches, and courts.
“We receive referrals for the most vulnerable children,” Hamilton added. “That makes this KCA award an even greater honor. To be recognized in this way by my peers is an encouragement that what I am doing is needed. It encourages me to keep providing services and strive to get even better so that I am always growing as a counselor.”
The American Counseling Association (ACA) is the world's largest association exclusively representing professional counselors. KCA, the state ACA branch, is a not-for-profit, professional and educational organization dedicated to the growth and enhancement of the counseling profession.
For more information on Christian Appalachian Project’s Family Life and Counseling Service, visit www.christianapp.org/family-life-counseling.