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When everything around us is uncertain, the staff at Unity Place is trying to keep the Holidays spirit a float. The clients and staff were just visited by Holiday Express; an organization founded in 1993 by Tim McLoone. Their mission of their organization is “To deliver music, food, gifts, financial support and friendship to those with the greatest need for the gift of human kindness during the holiday season and throughout the year”. This year’s Holiday express celebration was much different, but staff and clients together could feel the love and energy everyone put into making the most out of the event. The clients enjoyed gift bags, a delicious lunch, and a spectacular video that had all of the Holiday Express elves singing to their favorite holiday tunes!

Speaking of elves, the elves of Unity Place, also known as case managers, are competitively working on a holiday themed door decorating contest. Each staff member comes up with a theme and carries it through into there office. The competitive part is they allow the clients to pick the winner for bragging rights! Check out the Facebook page for more pictures!

Everyone at Unity Place wishes you a Safe and Happy Holiday Season!

Written by Jamie Paris


As counselors, we show our clients the importance of managing their stress through developing coping skills. Some group lessons are geared towards building a toolbox filled with things to help them during difficult times such as the ones we are all facing now.  However how often do we as counselors take our own advice and take a step back and take an inventory on our own mental health.

Speaking to our staff at Unity, some of them expressed how the stress of the recent events such as quarantine has affected them. They were asked to reflect on how they handled the stress during quarantine. Counselor Nikki M. stated: “During quarantine I was able to slow down and focus on taking care of me! I practiced yoga daily, took walks to the beach, read self-help books, and kept connected with friends and family with phone calls and FaceTime. I used mindfulness whenever I found myself worried about COVID-19 and the uncertainty of what was to come.” Nikki took a healthy approach to managing the high stress during these times. She was able to distract herself and the unpleasant thoughts by utilizing tools she would normally be showing her clients how to use to manage their everyday triggers.

Donna F., the assistant director, chimed in with how she managed working a taking care of her family during this time. She stated that “I’ve learned to pick a time and stick to it where I enjoy me time that calms me from the inside staying with jogging, reading, riding or other movement activity to de-stress my mind.” Donna incorporates a lot of physical activities into her groups when she is able to work with the clients. She believes in the mind-body connection and this holds true in her daily life as well.

All-in-all the staff at Unity Place appear to have a pretty robust set of tools to manage their stress during times of uncertainty. It’s safe to say that they are “experts” and the clients are lucky to have them.


The counselors of Unity Place of Monmouth certainly miss their clients, something that is amplified by the fact that May is Mental Health Awareness Month. They decided to post some messages containing good mental health practices and words of encouragement to help see clients through the challenges presented by the coronavirus.

Program Director Lorriaine Laura posted a reminder to clients that “lots of love gets us through anything.” Lorraine lavishes love on Unity’s clients, and when clients are able to return to on-site counseling, they know they can expect a hug from her.

Assistant Director Donna Frances had an in-depth posting that emphasized the importance of daily routine. She provided a thorough list of activities and ideas to help clients fill their days. Donna’s list of daily structure to nourish mental health include waking and going to bed at similar times, eating well, regular exercise, and making time for hobbies and activities the client enjoys.

Donna encouraged clients to stay in touch with others (via Zoom, Google Meets, etc.), and to help others whenever possible instead of focusing on oneself. She also urged clients to minimize time on newsfeeds that will only add to anxiety at time when stress is not in short supply. And she impressed on substance clients to continue to take their medications as prescribed.

Outreach Supervisor Jamie Paris in her posting wrote that clients should prioritize their mental health.

One of the counselors reminded clients that health is about how they think and feel, not just about how they are doing physically. Another posting by a counselor advised clients to “seek out the small joys every day,” something to keep in mind coronavirus or not


Unity Place of Monmouth County was recently profiled in a paper written by Crystal Williams. The paper is for Ms. Williams’ Foundations of the Counseling Profession class at Rutgers University. In addition to her classwork, she works at Easter Seals. Ms. Williams interviewed Jamie Paris, Unity Place’s Outreach Supervisor for the paper. Following are excerpts from Ms. Williams’ paper describing the Unity Place history and mission, its clients and the services those clients receive, as well as some general information about the tremendous need for mental health and substance use treatment.

Millions of Americans struggle with drug and alcohol abuse and many are unaware of their disease and of those that are unaware, hundreds of thousands may never obtain treatment. “Additionally, the disease burden of mental illness is among the highest of all diseases” (Health Improvement Coalition of Monmouth County [HICMC], 2016). The data of individuals struggling and not receiving services emphasizes the need for treatment programs in New Jersey. In Monmouth County, specifically, a Community Health Improvement

Plan was established to “increase access to and knowledge of mental, behavioral, and substance use resources” (HICMC, 2016). Unity Place is a day program for adults where a therapeutic environment is fostered to provide much needed treatment to individuals living with substance use disorders, chronic mental illness, or co-occurring disorders. Unity Place accepts referrals from state and community hospitals, other community mental health agencies, and most often from self or family/friend referrals. Although located in Monmouth County, Unity Place provides services for residents of Monmouth, Middlesex, and Ocean counties. Jamie Paris, the interviewee, is the Outreach Supervisor responsible for educating the community about the mental health services provided at this agency through the website, blog, flyers, and in-person meetings with other community agencies.

Unity Place of Monmouth County, LLC was established to provide a therapeutic environment for clients to be able to find success in handling life’s challenges. Unity Place provides various mental health services and life skills groups in the hopes that these interventions will prevent hospitalization or relapse. Unity Place staff recognize that wellness and recovery is an ongoing journey and staff seem committed to assisting their clients through the process. The Director of the day program shared that the agency aims to celebrate the individuality of each client to ensure that every individual living with mental illness, substance use disorder, or co-occurring disorder can achieve community reintegration, as viewed on the Unity Place website

 Population Served

 Adults 18 years and older are welcome at Unity Place as long as they are living with a chronic mental illness like schizophrenia, bi-polar disorder, or major depressive disorder, a substance use disorder like alcohol or opioid use disorders, or a co-occurring disorder. The interviewee reported that the majority of the population served are low-income individuals who qualify for Medicaid insurance.

 Types of Services

 In fostering wellness and recovery, Unity Place tailors treatment and recovery to each client’s individualized valued life-role. Clients are evaluated for their service needs based upon the areas of wellness, which include physical, intellectual, emotional, spiritual, social and occupational. This day program offers a partial care hospitalization, an intensive outpatient program (IOP), and an outpatient program (OP). Within the programs, therapeutic services like case management, psychiatric services, individualized counseling, urine drug screens, individualized recovery plans, group counseling, and medication education and management are offered. Group therapy is offered in areas such as stress and coping in recovery, motivation and self-esteem, emotion/anger management, and cognitive behavioral techniques. Some groups that Jamie highlighted during the interview were creative expression, journaling, brain workout and music for recovery.


In addition to its clinical programs and services, Unity Place serves breakfast, lunch and an afternoon snack. The agency holds fun events for holidays and other significant days for their clients. One area of improvement assessed during this interview would be the need for more multicultural services that might be able to serve a more culturally diverse population. Unity Place having the capability to accept Medicare may also diversify the current population. Overall, my impression of the agency is that they are running an essential behavioral health service in the community that seems to be operating successfully and offers a safe haven to an underserved population of adults living with chronic illness.



Unity Place of Monmouth County has a host of excellent and probing group topics that allow clients to confront a particular problem or set a specific goal. The staff who lead these groups each have certain subjects that give them greatest degree of satisfaction, and that they see as offering essential benefits to their clients.

Unity recently polled the staff about the various groups as asked them to name the one that means the most to them, or to their clients.

Critical to successful recovery is belief in oneself. For that reason, two Unity counselors, Beatrice B and Kate D., regard Motivation and Self-Esteem as crucial to her clients. Kate put it as follows: “I love seeing clients building themselves and each other.”

Clients’ health often is something clients with substance use and mental health may well have neglected before they came to Unity Place.  With that in mind, Health and Nutrition is the preferred group of Chris Terry, who also happens to very much like talking about food.

Two Unity staff most enjoy Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. One of those, Nikki M., said that through CBT clients alter their thinking patters, which in turn helps them to change behaviors. Samantha A. also derives a sense of reward in guiding her clients through CBT groups.

Creating a cohesive team is something Tracy Tennis, LAC, views as critical to recovery, so Team Building ranks as her favorite. Working well together is something everyone needs and it benefits clients in their personal and professional goals.

Related to this is Social Education and Relationship and Boundaries, topics that Carolyn W. enjoys working with clients on. She wants to see them become more social and create and sustain strong relationships. This can include repairing relationships that suffered before the person entered recovery.

Tia Guerin favors Psych Ed. In that it teaches clients about their symptoms and, most importantly, makes them aware of their triggers. Awareness of triggers is critical to reducing susceptibility to relapse.

Both Jamie P. and Bridget C. enjoy doing intakes, which is central to their work. During the intake process, each say they appreciate how it gives them opportunity to get to know the person entering treatment at Unity Place. This introduction to the program gives clients a sense of the excellent care Unity will provide.


At Unity, our goal is to provide a therapeutic environment where each client can learn how to successfully handle life’s challenges.

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1075 Stephenson Ave.
Suite C
Oceanport, NJ 07757


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