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History of Samaritan/Presbyterian Counseling Service

Fifty-seven years ago something entirely new was created . . .

"The Presbytery of Seattle through its Presbyterian Counseling Services Committee, being, on sufficient grounds, well satisfied of the ministerial qualifications of you, The Rev. Neal A. Kuyper, and having good hopes from our knowledge of you, that your ministrations in the gospel will be profitable to our spiritual interest, do earnestly call and desire you to undertake the office of Minister of Counseling and Director of the Presbyterian Counseling Service, promising you in the discharge of your duty all proper support, encouragement, and obedience in the Lord. And that you may be free from worldly care and avocations, we, on our part, promise and oblige ourselves to pay you in the sum of $7,200.00 yearly in regular payments during the time of your being and continuing the Minister of Counseling and Director of the Presbyterian Counseling Service….”  Signed on the 26th day of April, A.D. 1961 by James G. Bennett, Chairman, Committee on Personnel of Counseling Service, L. David Cowie, Chairman, Presbyterian Counseling Service and George H. McCleave, Executive, Presbytery of Seattle.

and the story has continued to unfold . . .

  • 1960 Presbyterian Counseling Service’s first home was in “The Wee Kirk” - office  space donated by University Presbyterian Church.  Neal Kuyper met with clients two days a week. Lois Bell was hired as part-time administrative assistant, then stayed on for 30 years -- an integral part of PCS until her retirement in 1991. Neal was instrumental in establishing the innovative programs of Crisis Clinic and Divorce Lifeline.

  • 1970 PCS moved from the University District into space provided by Seattle First Presbyterian in downtown Seattle.  The first field offices, in Bellevue First Presbyterian and Lake Burien Presbyterian churches, brought counseling to local communities.
  • 1972 The Marriage and Family Therapy Training Program, which began as a pastoral counseling program at PCS, was created and, in 1979, became associated with Seattle Pacific University.  More than 400 therapists received their professional training in this master's level program.
  • 1980 Ravenna Boulevard Presbyterian Church invited PCS to share their space near Green Lake.
  • 1983 Dr. Douglas Anderson became the executive director as founding director Neal Kuyper retired.
  • 1992 Rev.Terry Steig was named director as Doug Anderson returned to clinical practice and teaching.
  • 1994 The Low Income Clinic was established, overseen by Bill Collins. Through this program, master’s level externs provide counseling services in exchange for clinical supervision as they work toward meeting state licensure requirements.
  • 1997 The Samaritan Campaign for Women was the first of the agency’s fundraising efforts – reflecting the commitment to live out our mission in challenging economic times.
  • 2000 Beverley Shrumm became executive director, the fourth person to lead the counseling service in its 40-year history.
  • 2005 The Presbytery of Seattle, with the blessing of the Ravenna Boulevard Presbyterian Church congregation, made a gift of the Ravenna building and property to the counseling service.  Also in 2005, after a multi-year study by Board and staff members, the name of the agency was changed from Presbyterian Counseling Service to Samaritan Center of Puget Sound.
  • 2006 A program to provide mental health counseling for At-Risk and Homeless Youth was created.  WIth help from foundations, Samaritan hired a full-time mental health counselor to counsel at-risk and homeless youth in the University District and downtown Seattle.
  • 2009 A long-overdue interior remodeling project was undertaken by board and staff members at the Ravenna office. This created three large office spaces suitable for family counseling and mediation, a more comfortable reception and administrative area, and upgraded bathrooms and kitchen.
  • 2011 A grant from the Employees Community Fund of Boeing Puget Sound made it possible to paint the exterior of the 100-year-old building at the Ravenna location -- a building that we’ve chosen to share others who serve the community, including a Russian Orthodox congregation, the Seattle staff of Children of the Nations and a number of support groups.

    2012   Samaritan/Presbyterian celebrated 50 years in the Puget Sound community. Our clinical staff of 35 provided more than 22,000 hours of counseling for individuals, couples and families in 20 locations. A total of $662,525 in uncompensated care was provided. In order to do this, we rely on multiple resources: our church partners who provide counseling office space, donors who support year-around fundraising efforts and our staff who accept reduced compensation when seeing those who require fee assistance.  

© Samaritan Center of Puget Sound