In September 1985, a group from Highland Presbyterian Church in Lancaster began to explore the possibility of establishing an accredited, interfaith counseling center that would make its services available to all individuals, regardless of their ability to pay.
The group soon expanded to represent several faith communities, as well as individuals with professional and personal interest in such a counseling center.
On January 5, 1987, the Samaritan Center of Lancaster County was incorporated, with the center’s first office in a trailer on the property of Highland Presbyterian Church.
In September 1988, a 16-member ecumenical board of directors was formed to oversee the center. The board represented local churches and a broad spectrum of experience and professional expertise.
A year later in 1989, Samaritan Counseling Center moved into the newly renovated Highland House, which is its home today. Highland Presbyterian Church continues to provide this facility to the center, as well as supporting Samaritan in many other ways.
As the Samaritan Counseling Center has grown over the past three decades, so also have its services and offerings.
The Clergy and Congregation Care, which provides consulting, coaching and support for faith leaders and communities, became part of the center in 1999.
In 2013, the center further expanded its offerings with the development of Samaritan Business Consulting, today known as Samaritan Consulting Group. As the organizational development branch of Samaritan, this group provides coaching, training, human resources consulting, executive search and more to local businesses and organizations.
That same year, TeenHope, a mental-health screening program for students in local middle and high schools, began through a pilot partnership in Penn Manor High School.
Today, Samaritan serves a client population from Lancaster, Lebanon, Berks, York and other counties. With a clinical staff of 23, an administrative staff of 5 and program staff of 12, the center continues to reach out to meet ever-changing community needs through service and program diversification and community support.
And even more than three decades after the center was created, the mission remains the same: To foster hope and healing through professional counseling, consultation and education, while respecting and integrating personal and spiritual values.