MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP PENDLETON, Calif. --
Military and Family Life Consultants are part of a new program that gives Marines and sailors an opportunity to develop coping skills for a variety of military and family challenges. They provide Marines with short-term, non-medical and solution-focused counseling.
With frequent deployments, marriages in turmoil, raising children, personnel draw downs within the Corps and taking care of day-to-day life, some Marines and their families have been enduring heightened stress levels. They now have a new option with the MFLC program.
“The MFLC program is confidential, first and foremost. There are no paper trails and I write nothing down,” said the consultant from 1st Marine Division, who must remain anonymous because of the program’s confidentiality policies. “The other thing that sets us away from the other programs is that we are civilians with enormous amounts of education and specialized training to deal specifically with military members. We are not just counselors out in town with no specific training or understanding what it’s like to be a Marine. I am embedded.”
Since the program’s inception in 2004 with the Army, the Department of Defense has noticed the success of the program and a need for more counselors within the Marine Corps at the battalion level. According to MARADMIN 075/13, the increases in MFLCs are at no cost to the Marine Corps and are solely funded by the DoD.
The counselors are highly qualified clinicians, having masters or doctorate degrees in family and mental health therapy. Most consultants have had their own civilian practices and made the decision to give those up or put them on hold to dedicate time to help service members and their families.
“I walk around all over the division,” Said the consultant. “I do public speaking, and I can meet you on or off base. So wherever you feel most comfortable, I can accommodate you. I wear a name badge at first, so you know who I am, but I will take it off so people won’t know who I am in a public setting.”
The consultants can meet a client anywhere except their home or barracks room in a one on one environment. Sessions can be held at coffee shops, a park or in a quiet room at work. The consultants can typically respond to a client within 24 hours.
MFLCs are able to speak to any member of the military family and will even help children through challenges as well. The counselors do not maintain any records of the sessions and have a strict confidentially policy.
Contact with a MFLC is anonymous with the exception of allegations of self-harm, harm to others, allegations of domestic abuse, sexual assault and child abuse. These limits to their confidentiality are discussed before any session.
“The military and life consultants are new to the Marine corps in general,” said U.S. Navy Capt. Guy Lee, 1st Mar Div Chaplain and native of San Francisco. “I think it’s just a matter of Marines having contact with the MFLCs, understanding the capabilities they bring and what they can do. This is something that the Marine Corps is embracing.”
Consultants typically provide help with deployment stress, coping skills, dealing with separation and grief after a loss. Some of the counseling services the program also provides are classes to help with life skills such as anger management, relationship issues, work conflict resolution and, decision making.
“The way I’d like to think about it is, MFLCs are all part of our multi-disciplinarian approach,” Said Capt. Lee. “It isn’t just one person that handles everything. We are all working together based on the needs to help the Marines and sailors in every way possible. I want to make sure that everyone knows that no matter what your problem is, from the corpsman to financial counselors, we will support you. The MFLCs are another outlet and branch for the military to utilize if a service member would need it and we would work together to get you that help.”
The military and family consultant program is part of the larger counseling network that includes the Chaplain’s office, Military OneSource, the family readiness officer, financial counseling and the Navy medical and psychiatric liaison officers. The types of services also can be tailored to meet specific needs of the service member and their families.
Military and family life consultants can be reached by referral or by contacting the Behavioral Health Resource Center at their website, www.hnfs.com