What Is a Family Wellness Counselor?

Published on in CCC Connections

At the CCC, we believe that the most important ingredient for a child’s healthy development and success is the child’s family. To support our patients and their families, we established the Family Wellness Program in 2000. The program exists to promote and support the health and “wellness” of children and teens with hearing loss and their families.

So what exactly does “family wellness” mean? It means that most of the time, a child’s family members are able to do what they need to do for themselves and their family. It means that the family members work well together to help one another through both the good and more difficult times. Family wellness means that everyone in the family has healthy mental functioning, productive activities, and fulfilling relationships with one another and people outside the family. Family wellness allows everyone in the family to adapt and bond together to help one another through change and difficult times.

For a child or teen with hearing loss, family wellness also means that the child or teen and their family have a healthy emotional adjustment to the child’s hearing loss. Healthy adjustment to hearing loss happens when a family understands the need for communication to be clear for the deaf/hard of hearing family member(s) at home, in school and in the community, and makes the changes necessary to ensure this happens. This is important all the time, especially with friendly jokes between family and friends.

For kids who use hearing technology, healthy adjustment means they wear their hearing aid, personal FM system or cochlear implant just as often as they wear shoes — all waking hours! For kids who communicate in sign language, this means everyone in the family signs what they are saying when the deaf child is within eyesight of people communicating. This also means that family members and kids make sure each understands what is communicated by double checking understanding of the important points of information communicated.

So, what is a “family wellness counselor”? A family wellness counselor is a clinician with an advanced college degree (master’s or doctorate), licensed and experienced to independently evaluate and treat the social, emotional and behavioral functioning of children and families. A family wellness counselor provides information and consultation to children, teens and families to help children develop the skills they need to get along with other children and adults (social skills), manage their good and difficult feelings, and improve behavior at home, in school and in the community.

A family wellness counselor also counsels kids and their families when a child or teen is bothered by having differences in his hearing or is having a hard time with behavior, feelings or getting along with others. For a child or teen who has hearing loss, learning these important life skills can be much more difficult than for children with no permanent differences for many reasons.

Louise Montoya, MA, LPC, CSC, a licensed professional counselor, and Rebecca Witmer, LCSW, a licensed clinical social worker, serve as the CCC’s family wellness counselors. Rebecca works with children and teens with cochlear implants and their families, and families considering a cochlear implant for their child. Louise works with all other children and teens with hearing loss and their families.

For more information about the CCC’s Family Wellness Program, or to make an appointment with either Louise or Rebecca, please call Jaime Ramanauskas at 267-426-0780, or email ramanauskasj@email.chop.edu.