Originally published in the Hopkinton Independent
Turning Point turns 35
Since 1978, thousands of area residents have walked through the doors of Turning Point Counseling Services, founded and originally located in the quaint brick building at the junction of Main Street and Hopkinton Common, the fabled starting point of the Boston Marathon. Today, TP is situated in a comfortable and friendly office at 63 South St. Suite #140, Hopkinton, MA. The children, adolescents, adults, couples, and families came seeking answers to some of life’s most perplexing problems. And every step of the way, the people at Turning Point Counseling Services have helped them through.
This past year, Turning Point celebrated over 3 decades providing counseling services, and while the years have passed, the need for good counseling has not diminished. In fact, generations of area local families have turned to Turning Point for guidance and support.
Sharon Schwartz, Founder and Executive Director of Turning Point, established her private practice here in Hopkinton almost by chance. Schwartz, who received her Bachelors Degree from Cornell University in Human Development and Family Studies, and her Masters Degree in Social Work from Boston University, was driving through town when she noticed a “For Rent” sign on the lawn of the beautiful brick building adjacent to Hopkinton Common.
Schwartz happened to be looking for a space where she could provide counseling services and pulled her car over, rang the door bell, and was greeted by Lady Chesmore, the owner of the property. Chesmore, quite impressed by Schwartz and her plans, agreed on the spot to rent the space to her. Little did she know that she would be embarking on her own marathon, now some 35 years later!
The inside of the original office was as charming as the building’s facade. And it was the perfect home for Turning Point until it’s recent move to 63 South St. TP’s new suite, then as now, is filled with overstuffed leather chairs and cuddly plush playthings, creating a feeling of warmth and intimacy. “Patient comfort is key. The warm surroundings are conducive to helping people feel relaxed and welcome,” Schwartz said.
Turning Point has resources available to clients, with topics ranging from parenting skills to coping with grief. “We do a lot of client education as part of providing counseling, guidance and teaching in a non-threatening environment,” Schwartz added.
According to Schwartz, people come to Turning Point seeking help in coping with adverse life experiences, life transitions, crisis, and developmental issues. “Everyone experiences these things,” she said. “Over the years, we have been able to handle the variety of problems people face, from long-term chronic situations to more acute crisis intervention. We help to give people a perspective. We give sound guidance when necessary and the people here are excellent professional counselors.”
Sharon Schwartz has always been an adaptive learner. In 1997 she became certified in EMDR-Therapy. Today, she is one of the leading practitioners in this therapy method which works on symptoms, allowing emotional healing, even when seemingly impervious to other forms of therapy. EMDR is an approach that helps people reprocess their stuck beliefs, caused by critical events, adverse life experiences that she calls the “bumps” in their lives. Once reprocessed, the bumps dissolve and get “digested”, allowing the client to move from the past thru to the present, eliminating them at warp speed. The shift that occurs enables the client to naturally adapt their own behavior and foster positive change in their life. “This type of therapy has been incredibly useful in helping people to achieve breakthroughs when other approaches haven’t worked.”
Turning Point has successfully evolved over the years, incorporating new theories and techniques into the practice. “There have been incredible breakthroughs in the field,” she added. For the past 20 years, Schwartz who trained as one of the early EMDR practitioners, extensively applies EMDR in her practice.
After successfully utilizing EMDR with adults for years, Schwartz was one of the early innovators to explore how the techniques would be beneficial for children. She researched, then developed new protocols in the use of EMDR with children. Last year, she published a course in how to use EMDR with children and adolescents and gives workshops, the “Little Voices World Tour”, as part of her plan to give back to her community of therapists. She continues to innovate in EMDR work and is a recognized expert in her field, teaching, training, and speaking internationally. She makes the point “A lot of therapists are interested in learning EMDR today, but even those who have taken the training need time to become adept in its use. We have honed that skill and teach other therapists how to use EMDR. Our course has gotten rave reviews in our field.”
Turning Point works closely with area schools, pediatricians, and family counselors. Sharon regularly coordinates with other community resources including HopMoms, Real Housewives of Hopkinton, and playgroups. “People need to feel connected to other people and know that there are additional resources out there that can provide much needed assistance,” she said. Apparently, her clients find the services to their satisfaction and agree. To this day, TP does not use advertising to get the word out. The majority of Turning Point’s clients come from referrals by former patients. Word has it that she is one of the few therapists in MA who work with the youngest population, children as young as 5-6.
Turning Point recently updated their web-site, www.tpcounseling.org, and added a blog where Sharon publishes her perspective on such things as anxiety and the developmental challenges of childhood, transitions in young adulthood, parenting, stress management, and other contemporary topics that her clients have helped identify.
After 35 years, Schwartz is still energized by her work. As the Marathon continues, she gladly reports “Working with young adults, adults and families is very gratifying. Even more rewarding, is seeing and helping children and adolescents develop – quite a joy.” “One unexpected pleasure of being in the same area for as many years is to hear about recent achievements of past clients, especially my younger ones. Another is when life’s challenges necessitate a re-visit, downstream, and just being here for them,” she shared. It is not surprising to hear that much of her time is spent thinking about how to help people find the power to get out of their vulnerable situations so they can say, “I have my power back and I can handle this!”