Gary Frankel

with Gary Frankel, LICSW


One of the more rewarding aspects of being a therapist is the connection we are able to make with our clients and the local community. For me, nothing fills this cup more than the time I spend with the Harwood Community Learning Center (HCLC). HCLC is the alternative education program for Harwood Union High School. The young people that attend this program have struggled within the confines of the traditional educational system and HCLC offers an opportunity for a different way of learning in a more intimate setting. Click here to read more…

The program consists of 9-12 students and 2 educators, Paul and Beth, who help the students to identify personalized learning goals and individual projects the students choose to meet these goals. Although it is an intimate setting, group collaboration is challenging at times. My role at HCLC has been to bring the students together to work through these challenges while promoting positive group dynamics and norms and discussing topics that have significant importance to the students as they navigate a tough world.

There is often collaboration with Paul and Beth to support the work they are doing to help these young people raise awareness of how they can better affect their lives and improve their social and emotional health. The students are encouraged to identify topics of discussion that are meaningful to them and important in how they navigate each day. I am incredibly lucky to be a part of this community and am constantly impressed and inspired by the energy these teens bring to the discussions and the thoughtfulness in which they interact.

It’s not always easy as the personalities are strong and the group is diverse. As a therapist, I find this work to be as meaningful as it is challenging. As the year progresses, it is wonderful to see how the group comes together to take on tough issues and learn together as a community. It’s a great way to connect and I am extremely appreciative of the time I have with these students.