by Paula M. Riley
When Bill Gillespie, Psy.D., chose a name for his counseling and education services center he opened last month, he wanted one that reflected a bit of himself and much about his clients. The Lawncrest native choose the name Crest Counseling & Educational Services as a tribute to his roots but also because he views adolescence like the crest of a wave.
“I like the vision of limitless potential,” he said.
Crest Counseling & Educational Services offers counselors for children, adolescents and in some cases, adults with psychological issues or those seeking educational support. Gillespie has a team of experienced counselors, psychologist and teachers to meet the needs and preferences of his clients.
These clients are primarily adolescents with any number of issues – depression, anxiety, addictions, victimization. A graduate of Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine’s (PCOM) Clinical Psychology program, Gillespie is experienced in cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). There is much evidence based research suggesting that CBT works well with adolescents, Gillespie said. This form of psychotherapy emphasizes the role thoughts and feelings play in eliciting specific behaviors.
“We can’t change how we feel, but we can analyze and understand how we think and feel about something so that we can change our behaviors,” he explained.
Much of Gillespie’s experience with CBT was gained while working as a counselor at Life Counseling in their inpatient and outpatient programs for adolescents and adults facing issues with addiction, personality disorders, depression, anxiety, anger, suicide attempts and more. Using CBT and other therapeutic approaches, Gillespie helped his clients develop coping skills by identifying triggers and developing behavioral strategies to address these. Prior to opening Crest Counseling, Gillespie had been working with Life Counseling since 2008.
After graduating from University of Scranton with a degree in counseling psychology, Gillespie spent a year as a Boys Hope Girls Hope volunteer. He was a house parent at a home for boys in Cleveland, Ohio. Many of the boys who lived there had been victims of violence, sexual abuse or poverty, but were all educationally capable. This safe, healthy family atmosphere, where live-in counselors like Gillespie served in loco parentis providing counseling and educational support, the boys were able to fulfill their potential.
“It was through my work as a Boys Hope volunteer that I realized I worked very well with adolescents,” Gillespie said. “I also realized how much I didn’t know.”
He decided to pursue a master’s degree in school counseling at Villanova University and while studying there worked with students involved in the university’s campus ministry service trips.
Gillespie returned to the adolescent population when he accepted a job as counselor at St. Joseph’s Preparatory School. This all-boys high school offered him the opportunity to engage with young men providing both individual and group counseling services. He works with boys facing the challenges so present in adolescence, self-identify, family relationship, understanding changing roles, making college decisions as well as academic challenges.
Throughout the school day, boys stop in his office to say hello, have a private session with him or attend a group session. Gillespie facilities group sessions at lunch for students struggling with alcohol, drugs, or depression. He is quick to point out however, that schools are not treatment facilities. His role as counselor at the St. Joseph’s is to support and sustain students in need while they are at school. He is a liaison with parents, helps students coordinate their school life and provides a safe and stable relationship for students during the school day.
Like so many others in a counseling capacity, Gillespie’s personal experiences and disposition are some of the many tools he brings to his client relationships. He struggled with grades throughout his high school years at Cardinal Dougherty and lost his father at a young age. A lifelong athlete and most recently a baseball coach at the Prep, he understands the challenges faced by high school students who make the team as well as those who do not. Mostly though, it is Gillespie’s warm disposition that attracts people to him. Always inviting, Gillespie engages everyone he encounters with a sincerity and respect.
Gillespie will continue in his role as counselor at the St. Joseph’s and will meet with clients at Crest Counseling in the afternoon, evenings and weekends. Along with his colleagues, Gillespie will provide educational services including individual tutoring in core subjects, individual SAT preparation and classroom session, high school entrance exam tutoring as well as college counseling helping with the college decision as well as college essay assistance.
In seeking counselors, psychologists and teachers for Crest Counseling & Educational Services, Gillespie chose individuals who were both similar and different from him. His colleagues represent female as well as male counselors of various ages and backgrounds because, Gillespie said, that the provider relationship, whether as counselor or educator, is a deeply personal one. He believes that his team offers great diversity in their skill, experience and personal approaches so that each client can find the right fit for their needs.
Crest Counseling & Educational Services is located at 7811 Germantown Avenue. Visit www.crestcounseling.com or call 267-257-8978 for more information.