The Columbiana County Counseling Center opened in 1963 and, for over four decades, has been helping individuals and families obtain the support needed to live a mentally healthy life. We have a long-standing history of providing professional help for people experiencing emotional and substance abuse problems, behavioral challenges and relationship difficulties.
In the past, treatment of the mentally ill was often less than humane. Warehousing the mentally ill in insane asylums or “lunatic asylums” was common as recently as 60 years ago. These places were often dirty, lacked privacy, and offered nothing in the way of medical or therapeutic care. People who were considered mentally ill were placed in straitjackets or cages to control them.
In the 1950’s, the discovery of psychotropic drugs that effectively controlled many types of mental illness marked the first breakthrough for victims of mental illness. Suddenly there was hope for the many people who previously would have spent their lives behind the locked doors of a psychiatric institution.
This is where OUR story begins!
“Before the Center became a reality, there was an idea. Before there was this place where people are helped, there were people with a vision who had the audacity to dream, and to dream big!” -excerpt from the 25 year commemorative booklet
One of these dreamers, and a pioneer in local mental health treatment, was Juvenile Court Judge Louis H. Tobin. Because of his position, he witnessed, firsthand, the correlation between emotional distress and antisocial behavior. His deep compassion for Columbiana County’s delinquent youth was a driving force in seeking and promoting methods other than incarceration for youthful offenders. In 1956, a concerned group of 30 local citizens met at Lisbon’s Wick Hotel and formed the Columbiana Mental Health Association. Four years later the Reverend Laten Carter suggested that the Association develop a Mental Health Clinic, and so, in the fall of 1962, a Mental Health Campaign kicked off with Judge Tobin as chairman of the committee. Additional members of this committee included Reverend George Sweeney, Bryce Kendall, William Shoub, Alice Herriott and Warren Bettis.
In November of 1964, Dr. Knezinskis announced his resignation and services were suspended until a new director could be recruited.
In April of 1965, Donald G. Roberts (pictured below) was named director and in 1966 the Clinic moved next door into the Harold Kepner property at 339 East Lincoln Way. Under Roberts direction, the Mental Health Clinic continued to grow and new staff members were added.
This treatment was based on ignorance and fear, as an illness of the brain seemed more frightening than a physical illness. Even today, mental illness is still misunderstood by a large segment of our population.
“Our chosen way is not filled with production quotas, time clocks and marketing schemes. Our way is one of humility and understanding. Our reward is the smile after a frown and trust after fear. It’s enough for us to see the gleam in a child’s eye and feel relief in an adult’s handshake. Our goal is seeing needs met and the release of stress and confusion. We long for a peaceful heart. We work for a healthy spirit.”
-excerpt from the 35 year commemorative booklet
On November 1, 1963, The Columbiana County Mental Health Clinic opened with Jekabs Knezinskis, M.D., psychiatrist, as director. The Clinic was housed in the “Rigby House” at 343 East Lincoln Way in Lisbon.
A new board of trustees was named to take responsibility for this clinic. Charter board members were Judge Tobin, Harold Hoprich, Alice Herriott, Charles R. McKenzie, Rev. George Sweeney, Bryce W. Kendall, Mrs. J. Donald Thompson, Mrs. Paul Hum and Frank Solak.
By February of 1973, with staff outgrowing the current location, plans were announced for a new building to be placed on a rural site just east of Lisbon.
The Center Moves to It’s New Location at 40722 State Route 154, Lisbon.
Dedication for the new Facility was held on April 27, 1980
Since the dedication of this new facility, many changes have occurred:
1984 – HELP HOTLINE referral service and children’s programs were introduced.
1985 – A satellite office opened in East Liverpool, Ohio.
1988 – The Center celebrated its 25th Anniversary and a vocational program began.
1989 – A new children’s wing was added to the Lisbon Center.
1990 – The Board of Trustees developed the Apple Grove Homes, a 20-bed housing unit for persons with severe mental disabilities.
1993 – Pathways Project began.
1997 – A medical wing was added and the Bryce W. Kendall Home was dedicated – a five-bed home providing temporary housing to those who might otherwise be hospitalized.
1990 – The name of the facility was officially changed to The Counseling Center.
2000 – A satellite office opened in Salem, Ohio.
2002 – The Center has to earn billable units in contract with newly established county behavioral health board (the Mental Health and Recovery Services Board).
2005 – New Executive Director
2006 – Apple Grove Homes II (10 additional housing units on property adjacent to the original Apple Grove Homes apartments).
2007 -Established in-house pharmacy.
2009 – ODADAS Capital Improvement Grant for new roof on Wing B
2013 – OHFA Capital Improvement Grant (CIP; Rehab 2 duplexes)
2014 – OHFA Super Capital Improvement Grant (SCIP; 2 additional duplexes) January 1, 2014 Medicaid coverage in Ohio was expanded to adults between the ages of 19 and 64 who have incomes less than 138 percent FPL.
2016 – Hornsby House – (OHFA, FHLB & Ohio MHAS New Construction Grants; 8 units in Lisbon & a duplex in East Liverpool completed in March, 2016; open house in June).
2017 -Purchased and renovated new Salem satellite office at 166 1/2 Vine Avenue. Sold all parcels of land surrounding the Center’s business office and Kendall Home.
Leadership That Lasted Four Decades
Donald G. Roberts took over as director on April 15, 1965. He wanted to resign after only five days at the helm, as he believed he could not attract qualified staff to the small village of Lisbon. Judge Tobin persuaded him to remain on the job for at least six months. That “six months” extended to 40 years! Roberts retired in June of 2005. His constant leadership and continued dedication to the Center was greatly appreciated.
Leadership for Decades to Come
Roger Sikorszky arrived at the Counseling Center on July 18, 2005, with over 18 years of experience in behavioral health administration in community mental health settings, all in Ohio.
“Being selected for this position was a great honor and a wonderful opportunity. The Counseling Center has a great reputation for providing state-of-the-art services for its clients. We have an extremely talented and incredibly dedicated and caring staff.”
“Recovery is real here,” he explains. “I’m impressed with how well developed the whole Recovery process is and I understand why the Center has received statewide recognition for its Recovery programs.”
Moreover, the main campus, the Kendall Home, and the newer Apple Grove Homes are absolutely beautifully designed facilities. Clearly, I have big shoes to fill in this new position; Mr. Roberts has every reason to feel proud of the legacy that he leaves. Donald G. Roberts, the founder and Executive Director of the Counseling Center for 43 years, retired from his position at the beginning of July, 2005.
Roger Sikorszky has been an administrator, clinician, instructor, and consultant. His management experience has spanned diverse consumer populations (including adults, children, families, and the dually-diagnosed) in most areas of community mental health programming (including Outpatient, Partial Hospitalization, Community Psychiatric Support, Emergency, Residential, and Pharmacologic Management services), at multiple-site organizations with certifications from Ohio Department of Mental Health (ODMH) and the Ohio Department of Alcohol and Drug Addiction Services (ODADAS) and accreditations from the Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities (CARF) and the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations (JCAHO).
Over the course of his six-year tenure, as Executive Director of Appleseed Community Mental Health Center in Ashland, he was able to quickly stabilize an organization in serious financial trouble, doubling the budget; re-building the staff, quality improvement, and information systems infrastructures; realizing a 70% increase in personnel; expanding several clinical programs; and building a new-construction facility that currently houses all of Appleseed’s programs.
He characterizes his style of leadership as team-based, customer-focused and constituent-empowered. Mr. Sikorsky states that he tries to foster an environment that encourages innovative solutions to programming and funding challenges, while remaining true to the organization’s central values.