Are you worried about your job and is it keeping you awake at night?
Do you and your spouse have too many arguments?
Is your son creating a ruckus at school and you don't know how to handle him?
Has the poor health of an aging parent complicated your life?
Most people know when they've got a problem requiring help, but often don't know where to turn.
The Greater Washington Society for Clinical Social Work has established a new referral service -- patterned after those of medical and dental societies -- for people seeking private counseling. t
The system works like this: You call the society's new 24-hour number, 530-4765, and briefly explain your problem. You will then be given the name of a clincial social worker in your area who has been trained to handle that kind of difficulty.
It's up to you to contact to social worker. He or she may want to talk to you before setting up an appointment. Or, if necessary, you may be referred to a psychiatrist or psychologist.
The referral service "provides a place to call and talk with a trained social worker who can sort out the kind of service the caller is needing," says the society's Phyllis E. Richter, a social worker since 1943, who deals with marital and other family problems in private practice.
About 50 clincial social workers, all members of the society, participate in the program. "All people on our roster are screened," says Richter. "They have either a master's or doctor's degree in social work and at least two years of clinical practice." Most have worked in clinics, health agencies and hospitals before entering private practice.
Richter points out that the phone number is not to be confused with a "hotline," where you can get anonymous crisis counseling. "We want to see people in the flesh."
The referral service is free, but you pay for counseling as you would a doctor or dentist.
Counselor, she says, can help you with the problems of being a single parent or of merging the children from two marriages. They also work with the emotional problems of physical handicaps, illness and death.
For many people, says Richter, it takes "an awful lot of pain" before they seek help. She believes that talking briefly on the phone "helps get them into the office."