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Counseling services play critical role in many areas

With the hectic schedules and mounting stress that most Americans face on a daily basis, the need for counseling services has grown over the past decade and continues to grow, according to professionals in the field.
Longtime Russellville resident Bettie Hillman, an associate licensed counselor, said that even though Franklin County is known for its more laid-back lifestyles and rural settings, stress-related problems and issues facing adolescents, adults and the family unit as a whole still crop up in the lives of local residents.
“The breakdown comes in mainly because the family structure is weak,” Hillman said. “There is so much going on and children and relationships are not a priority now, which leads to problems in marriages, problems with children, and other issues where counseling can be helpful.
“Many parents think they are doing the right thing by providing for their family, but when that is the main focus, problems at home can go unnoticed. Children and spouses can start to feel somewhat abandoned, which can lead to adolescents acting out, falling into drugs, and marriage relationships starting to deteriorate.
“These things can happen to the best of families – no one is immune to these types of issues and counseling can help. Things happen in all of our lives that get us stuck or off track and the job of a counselor is to help people get past these things.”
Hillman said issues of post traumatic stress from things such as the tornado outbreak in April 2011 are also things that people can address through counseling.
“I know there are a lot of people in the area who went through very traumatic things when the tornado came through our county, and they are still having to deal with those feelings today,” Hillman said.
“They may have lost a loved one or lost their home or even been in the path of the tornado and survived through those terrible events.
“Getting over something like that isn’t easy, but counseling can help a person move in the right direction and begin to overcome the memories of those kinds of events.”
Hillman said she has always been interested in listening to people’s problems and trying to help them, so it was an easy decision to open her own counseling practice, B.S. Hillman Counseling Services, LLC, after she retired from Bank Independent after 40 years.
Hillman holds a Bachelor’s degree from the University of North Alabama in business administration and a Master’s and doctorate degree in counseling and is currently working towards her LPC designation.
“I mainly focus on marriage and family counseling along with counseling adolescents with behavioral issues, but I do all types of counseling,” she said.
“I’ve come to realize that there are many people who are facing things that they simply cannot handle on their own and they need a non-judgmental, unbiased, impartial person to help them sort through those things.
“That’s what counseling can offer and that’s why it’s so important to seek help if you need it – so you can work through the problem and continue on with your life.”
Hillman said she’s well aware of the stigma that often accompanies counseling.
“Many people think that if you go to see a counselor that you have some sort of mental illness and no one wants to have that kind of a label,” Hillman said, “so they’ll avoid going and the concerns they have just continue to grow.
“I’ve actually held a few seminars in the area to help people understand what counseling is really about. People from all walks of life have concerns that arise that need to be addressed. Seeing a counselor doesn’t mean you are ‘crazy.’ It simply means you have concerns, which everyone has, and you want to address them and work through them.”
Hillman said she hopes to be of use in the area now that her practice is in full swing. She meets with clients in her home office at 531 Hamilton St., in Russellville, and she can also meet with clients in the private conference room at the Franklin County Chamber of Commerce office in downtown Russellville or at a client’s home.
“Having lived in the area all my life, it’s a little hard for people to see me as a counselor, but everything that is discussed between me and a client is strictly confidential,” she said.
“I want my clients to be able to relax and share their concerns so that I can help the people in this area lead healthier, happier lives.
“I hope there will be people in this area who will trust me enough to let me provide that service for them because counseling can be such a benefit to a community and to those who need it.”
Hillman can be reached at 256-332-5800.