FEBRUARY 14, 1986 / MONTROSE VOICE 11
New Program Improves Counseling
Center's Women's Outreach
By Connie Woods
Montrose Voice Staff Reporter
"I'd like to see the lesbian community
become more cohesive to support each
other and form stronger bonds," said
Karen Hanson, director of the Women's
Program at the Montrose CounselingCen-
"It's important they talk to each other,
support each other, and talk about what's
going on in their lives," she continued.
And with the efforts and direction of the
counseling director, women in the community now have a better opportunity to
share their thoughts, lives and even problems.
Since joining the Center in August,
Hanson has implemented several pro
grams and plans to offer even more programs for women.
She sees the women's program as providing high-quality counseling and support services for the women's community.
Hanson pointed out that it is a needed
service to have counseling for gays.
The center offers individual counseling
as well as counseling for couples, even
families, and lesbian couples with children. In addition, the center offers weekly
Women's Network sessions on Wednesday
In the weekly sessions she said, "We've
discussed the coming out process, legal
issues, parenting, feminism—what it is
and what's going on in Houston."
She sees the Women's Network as a
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"family—a support system." The
structure of the Network sessions is to
have a speaker but to break off into small
groups to discuss the topics.
"Our society has so many secrets—
especially sexual secrets like sexual abuse,
for example. We need to be able to talk
about our lives and what's going on," she
explained. "If we can't talk, we can't
become healthy, whole human beings."
She also pointed out that little research
has been done about lesbians. She considers it important that women have a place
to learn about the issues in their lives.
Hanson, a native of New York, came to
Houston eight years ago. Before joining
the staff at the center, she worked at the
Houston Area Women's Center in family
She said she came to the counseling
center when the board of directors wanted
to get more women coming to the center.
"There had been more male therapists
than women," • she said. "Bill Scott
(Clinical Director) and Ken Vance
(Executive Director) wanted to get
women's programs going."
When she began the program, questionnaires were sent to women in the community to get an idea of what topics ranked as
a priority with them and the method they
would like to see the topics handled.
She said some 50 women attended the
first network session thus proving that
women were interested in a program.
In citing particular problems that lesbi
ans face, she said that they often have
children and "are raising those children
with their lovers."
She said several network sessions have
dealt with lesbian parenting and co-
parenting. "It's important for these
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Karen Hanson directs the Montrose
Counseling Center's women's program.
(Connie Woods photo)
women to be able to talk with other women
and other couples," she added.
"Younger lesbians who want and are
considering having children seek
support."she explained. "It's a big.
choice—a big responsibility with many
questions to be answered."
Hanson, a certified social worker who
received her Masters of Social Work from
Syracuse University, continues to expand
the Women'6 Program.
The Second Annual Women's Weekend
will be held the first weekend in March.
This program began last year and according to Hanson was successful.
She would like to see more programs
offered as well as expand the staff, the
services and the client hours. Based on the
size of the Houston gay community, she
considers it important to offer more social
Hanson plans to go outside the community to speak to other groups. She has
provided information concerning gays to
the Crisis Hotline and the Houston Chapter of the National Association of Social
She has also offered to speak to the Mental Health Association concerning homophobia. "Homophobia is bad on mental
health whether you're straight or gay,"
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