Therapy Help for Gang Members Takes a Hit

As the economic crisis tightens its grip on many national and international organizations, the need to recognize, understand, and help support suffering services in an effort to preserve the mental health initiatives of the past few decades is clear. Among the most recent organizations to succumb to financial woes, Homeboy Industries, a Los Angeles group providing help to recovering gang members, has recently announced a $5 million deficit along with an expectation of shutting down several of its services in the coming days and weeks.

The organization, established in a US city with one of the highest rates of gang violence, has helped those seeking to break free from gangs to acquire useful skills and re-integrate with society, a service that has proved highly valuable for those who have worked with the program. Recent cuts in donations and government contracts are cited as the most prominent causes of the financial flop, and while the organization’s administrative offices report their intention to continue honoring their financial obligations, some services, among them psychotherapy, may be shut down.

As recovering gang members are often in need of specialized psychotherapeutic care during the process of breaking away from the mental and emotional realities of gang life, the need for a swift and capable substitute is an important issue that’s sure to find several voices in the Los Angeles area. As Homeboy Industries has also traditionally provided services such as tattoo removal and parenting courses, more extensive counseling and medical services may also be called upon to reach out to this struggling demographic. It is hoped that despite the consequences of financial turmoil, the local mental health community will work to ensure that care is available for those who need it.

© Copyright 2009 by By John Smith, therapist in Bellingham, Washington. All Rights Reserved. Permission to publish granted to GoodTherapy.org.

The preceding article was solely written by the author named above. Any views and opinions expressed are not necessarily shared by GoodTherapy.org. Questions or concerns about the preceding article can be directed to the author or posted as a comment below.

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  • Andrea

    Andrea

    August 20th, 2009 at 2:39 PM

    I find it sad that an organization such as Homeboy Industries, who provides such a helpful outlet for our youth who are struggling with gang issues will have to shut its doors, while so many big corporate business are getting bailed out. This will leave so many of our youth who can benefit from services like this on the streets to continue living lives of crime and violence.

  • Jonathan

    Jonathan

    August 21st, 2009 at 3:14 AM

    Feeding the nation is definitely priority one on the govt.s agenda. However, excluding mental health services is like killing the nation with a slow poison.

  • Kierra

    Kierra

    August 21st, 2009 at 3:16 AM

    I think volunteering is a great way of stepping in. Donation boxes, fund raiser days etc. do help. The govt. isnt necessarily the bad guy but just the guy who has lots to take care of. Its time the have-alls do something for the have-nots.

  • Sally

    Sally

    August 21st, 2009 at 3:48 AM

    Why is it that groups like this who seem to need the money the most are the ones who are always left holding the bag and getting nothing? These groups provide so many with such worthy services that it is always sad to see them go, and I wonder about the youth and what will happen to them once caring and generous organizatiions like these are gone.

  • Lewis

    Lewis

    August 23rd, 2009 at 9:26 PM

    As a counselor working among juvenile delinquents, I can definitely say that the govt. is responsible for pulling the plug on this one. Most children and young adults who take to a life of crime do so because of gangs behind them. When the gang can be got rid of, the webs they meticulously weave can be broken.

  • Daniel P.

    Daniel P.

    July 23rd, 2014 at 12:49 PM

    the streets and the code are misunderstood by those that hold the key to financing these programs. It starts with honesty and truth concerning individuals who come from “dysfunction” and who will never leave these environments, that is not the problem. Educating them how to live in these environments as a different person is the key. Honesty, love, respect, loyalty all learned in the neighborhood are a beautiful thing they just need to be used for a different purpose now, one that benefits self and family. Your either born to dream or your born to crush dreams? WHAT’S IT GONNA BE?

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