A Hidden Gem Serving The Community


Have you heard about the Woods Counseling & Care Center? If you haven’t, you’re not alone. The center has quietly provided counseling services since it opened in 1993, when it was originally housed in Woods Memorial Presbyterian Church in Severna Park.

“The need for the center emerged as there was only one other pastoral counseling center in the area and Woods wanted to provide professional mental health care to the community, as well as offer therapy that could include attention to spiritual issues should clients want to pursue that,” said Woods Memorial Presbyterian Church associate pastor Nancy Lincoln, a clinical psychotherapist.

There were only two therapists at the time, Lincoln and the late Rev. Dr. Jon Williams, a clinical psychologist. The counseling center grew over the years and now retains four therapists. Along with Lincoln, the other therapists include M. Lou Applebaum, John Gibbons and Tanise Stevens.

In addition to its growth, the Woods Counseling & Care Center has moved across the parking lot to a building surrounded by tranquility. The quaint, white building that houses the center is surrounded by a labyrinth, which can be used for reflection, prayer or meditation; a children’s garden; and a rock garden that follows the “take a penny, leave a penny” philosophy with painted rocks. The labyrinths and gardens, which are open to the public at all times, are a true metaphor and literal space for healing and growing – like that of the center. Somewhat of a hideaway, the quiet building includes a private entrance and plenty of parking.

Both counseling and care are offered through the center, which houses two programs dedicated to facilitating the growth and wellness of individuals, couples, families and systems in a setting that offers nurture, enlightenment and counseling.

“When I decided to become a psychotherapist, I wanted both the pastoral dimension and the clinical dimension because I believe in healing, ultimately, not just in the secular sense,” Lincoln said.

The counseling center offers psychotherapy, marriage counseling, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) treatment, and grief and bereavement counseling. Other focuses include faith and spirituality concerns, suicide prevention and more.

“All of the therapists and clinicians at the center are licensed by the state and have the ability to navigate spiritual or religious issues if that is relevant for the client,” Lincoln said. “Therapists do not address those concerns unless requested to do so by the client.”

Alternatively, the care center is driven by volunteers and provides support for grief recovery, ways to grow spiritually, and career transitions. It offers forums and seminars addressing issues vital to growth and awareness.

Bill Hocking is a retired NASA engineer, who chose to study at the Shalem Institute for Spiritual Formation in his retirement. Approximately five years ago, at a time when Hocking thought he’d be cutting back on his activities, he found himself automatically responding “yes” when asked to do spiritual direction for the care center.

“I am volunteering, very part time,” explained Hocking, who holds the role of spiritual director. He gives seminars and facilitates Woods’ grief groups, which have shifted from in-person to Zoom due to the pandemic. He sees people in person for spiritual direction and one-on-one for grief counseling.

“I believe that the Counseling & Care Center provides the very best professional counseling,” Hocking said. “We talk about the separation of church and state, the divide between professionalism and spirituality, but at the center there is a mixture of the two. This mixture is nuanced to the benefit of the person being cared for.”

The Woods Counseling & Care Center welcomes and affirms all persons. Many of the care center services, such as grief support, are offered at no cost or on a donation basis. The outdoor labyrinth and gardens are free to the public. Woods Church also provides a client assistance fund to help defray the cost of services for those in need. Insurance is accepted if the client’s policy covers mental health. Since Woods Church provides the space, the fees are somewhat less than other counseling locations.

Luckily, the stigma around mental health is lessening and conversations around the previously taboo topic seem to be increasing. If you need help, don’t hesitate to take advantage of the Woods Counseling & Care Center. To obtain help or recommendations for organizations or support groups, contact 443-261-3289 or generalinfo@woodsccc.org.


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