Founded in 1969, Seattle Counseling Service is the first and oldest community mental health agency for lesbians, gay men, bisexuals, and transgender persons in the United States.
Started as part of the Dorian Society in Seattle, SCS later expanded to become an independent organization. We began in a rented house, with a telephone and several volunteers, who were ready to answer the phone, talk with people who dropped by, and offer counsel and support.
SCS is licensed as a mental health center and has provided services to our community since 1974. Among the programs pioneered by SCS, the Domestic Violence Program (started in 1982) was one of the first in the nation to offer help to those in same-sex relationships.
In 1985, SCS received status as a United Way agency. SCS was the first gay-specific agency to receive that status in King County.
SCS began providing services for people with HIV/AIDS concerns in 1985 by providing HIV Test counseling at the Seattle Gay Clinic. Long-term AIDS therapy and an AIDS drop-in group began in 1986, and the AIDS Crisis Intervention Program was initiated in 1989. In 1996, SCS placed a therapist on site at Bailey-Boushay House.
In 1990, SCS became a sponsoring agency of Lambert House, a gay/lesbian/bisexual youth drop-in center. We are still very committed to LGBT youth and currently provide both mental health and chemical dependency treatment for youth.
In 2003, SCS and King County Public Health created a collaboration to house Project NEON, a harm reduction program for users of crystal methamphetamine. 2003 also brought the advent of Seattle Counseling Service Chemical Dependency Services, assuming the role previously filled by Stonewall Recovery Services in King County.
In addition to its role to provide direct services to sexual minority community members, SCS plays a significant regional role as a psychology and social work professional training site, serving as the practice training site for an average of four universities each year. Since 1992, SCS has also provided training to mental health providers statewide to increase their capacity to appropriately serve sexual minorities in their home communities.
Collaboration is important to the staff and board of SCS. We are continually seeking ways to provide a continuum of care for clients. SCS works with other King County Mental Health Providers to advocate on behalf of clients in the mental health system. SCS belongs to the Cross Cultural Alliance, the Washington Coalition Against Domestic Violence, the Washington Coalition of Sexual Assault Programs and the LGBT Community Center.
Over the years SCS has garnered numerous awards for the important services provided to the community. At the 2006 "Saying It Loud" Conference, the Washington State Division of Alcohol and Substance Abuse along with the Mental Health Division of the Department of Social and Health Services, presented SCS with an award for "leadership, compassion, and advocacy in meeting the needs of GLBTQ communities." The Seattle LGBT Community Center named SCS the best non-profit at the inaugural 2004 Fruit Bowl Community Awards. Also in 2004 the King County Mental Health, Chemical Abuse and Dependency Services honored SCS with the Exemplary Service Award for Systems Integration, in recognition of the integrated services offered in chemical dependency, harm reduction, and mental health. In 2007, the Washington State Mr & Ms Leather Organization presented SCS with a community service award.
We continue to add new programs and services to meet the changing needs of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender communities. For the latest updates, check our What's New page.