Navigating Life's Challenges

A History of MAPS

The Monadnock Area Pastoral Counseling Service (MAPCS) was founded in Keene, New Hampshire in 1973 by a group of local ministers and lay people interested in providing professional pastoral counseling and pastoral care. The founders included the Rev. Phillip Crane, pastor of Grace United Methodist Church in Keene, and the Rev. Oliver Francisco, education minister of the United Church of Christ in Keene. Four pastoral counselors, Rev. Wes Burwell, minister of the 1st Congregational Church in Swanzey, Rev. Frank Irvine, minister of the Jaffrey United Church of Christ, Rev. Steve Weaver, minister of the United Church of Christ in Keene, and Rev. Rick Weir, minister of the Rindge Congregational Church, also were among the founders of MAPCS. They were soon joined by Mary Alther, Rev. David Forry, United Methodist Minister, Rev. Fay Gemmell of Grace United Methodist Church, and Rev. Dr. Gary Wehrwein.

The founders intentionally established MAPCS as a decentralized organization with staff offering counseling in local churches and coming together for training and supervision. John Maes from Boston University, an AAPC (American Association of Pastoral Counselors) Diplomat, was hired to do the training and help organize MAPCS. The early group wanted to focus their finances and resources on training and not on buildings or offices.

The first Executive Director, from 1974 to 1980, was Oliver Francisco. David Forry was Executive Director from 1980 to 1987. After that a non-pastoral counselor consultant, Jane Geary, who had been Executive Director of Home Healthcare and Community Services, led the organization for a brief time and helped MAPCS move out of the UCC Church in Keene and into the Court House Offices. She was followed by Gary Wehrwein, who searved as the acting Director for about one year until the Rev. Richard Watson, an Episcopal priest, became Executive Director for about two years. Under his leadership the organization sought to have a more visible community presence. Dick Watson left in the summer of 1992 and was replaced by Dr. Stephen Price, an Episcopal priest and licensed psychologist. Dr. Price was Executive Director for about ten years, overseeing the agency’s relocation to its current location at 19 Federal St. When Steve stepped down, Gary Wehrwein again became the acting Clinical Director of MAPS and Larry McFarland, a counselor at MAPS, became the acting Executive Director. They shared administrative oversight for about four years, during which time MAPS underwent significant staff changes. In 2006 MAPS hired a permanent Executive and Clinical Director in Gary S. Barnes. Ph.D. Dr. Barnes, a clinical psychologist, had formerly been the Chief Operating Officer for Monadnock Family Services. Although not a pastoral counselor, Dr. Barnes did bring many years of experience in program and agency management.

The agency was first housed in the offices of the United Church of Christ in Keene and remained there until about 1989 when it moved across the street to the ground floor of the Cheshire County Court House. In January, 1994 MAPCS raised $25,000 to renovate a large office space owned by St. James Episcopal Church. In return for all the building improvements the church gave MAPCS a long term (10 year) low cost lease. MAPCS moved into this new location at 19 Federal St. in Keene in what is known as the Jonathan Daniels Building, where it is still housed.

In 1976, under the leadership of David Forry and pastoral director Gary Wehrwein, MAPCS sought accreditation and became an approved Service Center of the American Association of Pastoral Counselors. AAPC remains the accrediting organization of MAPS.

In the late 1970’s, pastoral counselors won the right to be licensed as Pastoral Psychotherapists by the State of New Hampshire, and to be reimbursed by insurance companies for their services. This meant that during the decade of the 80’s MAPCS gained critical new revenue, which supported further growth and won greater recognition by the community and other mental health professionals.

On September 19, 1995 the Board of Directors changed the name of MAPCS (Monadnock Area Pastoral Counseling Services) to MAPS (Monadnock Area Psychotherapy and Spirituality Services), both brevity and to reflect a broadening of the services and the philosophy of care being provided. The new name was an expression of a more inclusive definition of spirituality since the term “pastoral counseling” had tended to connote a form of counseling based only in Christianity. Years later the Board of Directors again voted to change the official name of the agency to MAPS Counseling Services. The name “MAPS” has now ceased to be an acronym, but our mission continues to be the professional integration of psychotherapy and spirituality.

In late 1995 and 1996 MAPS grew rapidly with the addition of new staff members, increase in case load, and the opening of a new office in Peterborough. Several highly competent and successful therapists each having a private spiritual practice and commitment. The new staff members included Yvette Yeager, MSW, Leonard Fleischer, Ed.D, Pat Graves, MSW, Wendy Elliott, M.Ed., and Betsy Taylor, M.S. During 1976 MAPS nearly doubled the number of clients served.

The departure of Steve Price led to a challenging time for MAPS. Several clinicians also left around this time, creating a fiscal crisis that threatened the agency’s existence. However, continued support by St. James Church, and the Monadnock United Way, and the dedication of Ms. Betty Chase from the Board of Directors , Dr. Gary Wehrwein, and Dr. John Van Ness (another long-term MAPS clinician) allowed MAPS to persevere and rebuild.

In the early 2000’s MAPS hired several new therapists, including Larry McFarland, LCMHC, Stephanie Kimber, LCMHC, Meg Connor, LCMHC, and Leela Howard, LCMHC. These clinicians, along with Dr. Wehrwein and Dr. Van Ness, stabilized MAPS and established the foundation that led to the success we enjoy today.

The arrival of Dr. Barnes in 2006 marked the beginning of a period of significant change and growth for MAPS. During this time Community Mental Health Centers were experiencing dramatic cuts in State funding, and were downsizing many  programs, including their outpatient services. Because MAPS is not supported by  State funding, these cuts did not impact our operation, and this agency was ideally positioned to help meet the growing need for outpatient mental health services. In the next eight years, MAPS hired many new therapists, essentially doubling the number of clinical staff. MAPS also added and expanded programs for specific populations, particularly child, adolescent and family services. This included the addition of therapists who understand autism spectrum disorders, a serious and potentially disabling childhood disorder, programs for people with chronic pain and expanded treatment options for substance abuse.

Yet another area where growth was substantial was with the MAPS Peterborough office. Prior to 2006, the Peterborough office was a small satellite where some therapists from Keene donated a day a week to see clients. In 2007, MAPS committed to expanding the Peterborough office by designating full time clinicians to this site. As they were successful, MAPS added additional clinicians to Peterborough, and in 2014 the Peterborough office was relocated to a larger and more comfortable facility at 9 Vose Farm Road. Today the Peterborough office has five full time clinicians and is actively pursuing the addition of a sixth. The Peterborough clinicians have also established the first school-based services for MAPS, where clinicians provide counseling to children at their schools.

Today MAPS Counseling Services is the largest independent provider of outpatient mental health care in the Monadnock Region. We serve approximately 1000 individuals and families each year, and closely partner with the network of social services in the region. MAPS is closely affiliated with Antioch University New England as a training site for mental health interns and practicum students, and retains the strong support of the Monadnock United Way, which funds our services for the uninsured, and support groups for people with cancer or chronic pain. MAPS has maintained close associations with our faith community and has remained committed to a spiritual approach to psychotherapy that is unique in the region.

Today the greatest challenge facing MAPS is our success. Our recent growth has filled our facility in Keene to capacity, effectively limiting further expansion for now. A 2013 strategic retreat identified relocation or renovation of our Keene facility as our greatest need, and significant resources are now dedicated to making this happen. The goal is to base our operations in Keene in a larger, more comfortable and modern facility, that will help us to provide quality mental health care in the Monadnock Region for the next 42 years.