deland counseling co-op
PHOTO COURTESY DELAND COUNSELING CO-OP READY AND COMMITTED TO HELP — These professionals are all part of DeLand Counseling Co-op, which is “striving to create sustainable pathways to mental health for the DeLand community.” Pictured, from left, are Melissa Sorensen, David Joseph, Michelle Bradt, Bill Brennan, Michele Band and Ella Shepherd.

DeLand Counseling Co-op is a nonprofit group of counselors who are committed to creating sustainable pathways to mental health services, primarily to the DeLand area but to all of Volusia County, as well.

“The counselors all have their own practices and are not on-staff at the co-op,” said David Joseph, the director of the co-op and one of the counselors.

Currently, counselors are offering free group sessions on four topics. Most of the groups are meeting once a month, but a teen group is meeting every week, Joseph said.

None of the counselors are getting paid for offering these sessions, but they all can offer individual counseling services for pay through their practices.

The current free groups are:

Parents of Kids on the Autism Spectrum

Parenting children on the spectrum brings its challenges with understanding your children, but also feeling isolated. This group is for parents and caregivers to get honest conversations and questions, and share their experiences in parenting. This group is led by Joseph, who has a master’s degree in marriage and family therapy (MAMFT). Contact him at

Teen Group – Relaxation & Stress Reduction

Almost a third — 31 percent — of teenagers report feeling overwhelmed, anxious or stressed, while 30 percent report feeling sad or depressed. This group, designed for 14- to 18-year-olds, will identify stressors and develop strategies to cope and connect with others. Parental consent is required for those under 18. The host is Ella Shepherd, a licensed mental health counselor (LMHC) and daughter of Beacon Publisher Barb Shepherd. Her email address is

Secondary Trauma in First Responders

Every day, first responders who put their lives on the line to help care for and protect our community are also bombarded by secondary trauma. That is when they are psychologically overwhelmed by their desire to provide assistance and comfort to victims of trauma and suffering. All first responders are invited: hospital staff, firefighters, police officers, EMTs and more. The host is Michelle Bradt, a licensed clinical social worker (LCSW). Email her at

Understanding Trauma

While trauma can be the reaction of an accident, rape, suicide, death or natural disaster, people can also experience smaller traumas. Some traumas from childhood linger, influencing our day-to-day lives. This group will help attendees understand what trauma is, how it affects them, and what they can do about it. The host is Melissa Sorensen, who has a master’s degree (M.A.). She can be reached at

The groups rotate every few months and meet in the co-op office, 112 E. New York Ave., Suite C, in Downtown DeLand. Different topics will be coming up in the future, Joseph said.

The co-op offers scholarships for which clients can apply to help in offsetting the cost of counseling.

“The difference in $20 or $30 can mean the difference in someone receiving or not receiving help,” Joseph said in a news release. “As well, each of our counselors volunteers to host free groups to underserved people in our community.”

Interested people should contact the host to register for any group. More information is available at


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