News and Events

Better Lives for Our Children

25th June 2016

little_boy_runningby Lynette Payne, Executive Director

We all know that childhood is often fraught with challenges for both parent and child.  Of course, there are those children who are fortunate enough to experience the “normal” childhood tribulations of the occasional skinned knee and hurt feelings.  Unfortunately, our community is home to many children who lead lives in high risk, trauma filled environments.  Frequently their parents are addicted to substances or incarcerated, or they live in constant dread of family violence erupting.  Often, this leads to behaviors of acting out, sometimes with inappropriate aggression; self-harm in the form of cutting and/or eating disorders; substance abuse; and suicidal thoughts.

A report by the NIMH (National Institute of Mental Health) states that, “the percentage of youth suffering from mental disorders is even higher than the most frequent major physical conditions, including asthma or diabetes.”  In fact, approximately 144,000 Dallas County residents under the age of 18 live with a mental illness severe enough to cause significant impairment of daily functioning.  Texas is the 10th highest state in depression rates, and the 14th highest in the rate of suicides (Mental Health America).  50% of students aged 14 or older with mental illness do not complete high school, and suicide is the second leading cause of death for youth ages 15-19.

What if we had something that could have a sustainable impact on a child’s life?  What if there was a way to make it easier to navigate through the often treacherous path of growing up, and can help them to become better adjusted adults?  Half of all mental illness begins by age 14, but access to effective services and support can facilitate the development of relationships, coping skills and positive educational and social experiences needed to succeed in life (National Alliance on Mental Illness, 2012).

Here at Galaxy Counseling Center, we have observed how access to mental health services can mitigate the effects of unhealthy environments and dysfunctional behaviors to which our youth are exposed.  Several studies have documented the effectiveness of psychotherapy across diverse conditions and settings (Shedler, 2010; Thomas et al, 2007,) and the benefits not only endure but continue to improve after therapy at follow-up (Abbas et al, 2006; DeMaat, 2009; Grant, 2012; etc.)   In addition, results of psychotherapy tend to last longer and be less likely to require additional treatment than the use of psychological drugs (Beautler, 2009).

Research has found that that therapy can provide symptom relief, personality change, reduction of future symptomatic episodes, enhance quality of life, promote adaptive functioning in work/school relationships, increase the likelihood of making healthy life choices, and many other benefits (Shedler, 2010; Wampold, 2010). Imagine how much impact this could have on children who do not live in extreme environments.

Even if your child does not live under adverse conditions, you may find a time where some help could ease the situation.  As a parent, we want to make childhood as joy filled as possible; so if there is help available to enable them to lead happier, more productive lives, why not use it to advantage?  It’s time to remove the stigma associated with getting help and consider mental wellness a basic right like food and shelter.

Galaxy Counseling Center’s 2014 Annual Report

21st August 2015

Our Annual Report allows us the opportunity to recognize the individuals, foundations, business and nonprofit organizations that compliment and support the work that we do. What is remarkable is that each of you are making the effort to make a difference in the lives of individuals you will never meet. 2014 Annual Report

Galaxy Counseling Center’s 2012 Annual Report

17th October 2013

Our Annual Report allows us the opportunity to recognize the individuals, foundations, business and nonprofit organizations that compliment and support the work that we do. What is remarkable is that each of you are making the effort to make a difference in the lives of individuals you will never meet.

Galaxy Opens Collin County Satellite Office

27th October 2012


We have opened a satellite office in Plano.  The office is located at 2600 K Avenue, Suite 206, Plano, TX 75074. We accept clients enrolled in Value Options North Star and self-pay. We have immediate openings for all services, including:

  • General Counseling Services:  Individual, adolescent (12 years+), marital, couples, and family.  Conducted in English and Spanish
  • Trauma (such as, sexual, physical, emotional abuse)
  • Mental health problems (such as, anxiety and depression)
  • Relationship problems (such as, divorce, step families, family conflict)

For more information about the satellite office, or to make an appointment, please call 972.272.4429.

Galaxy Counseling Center’s 2011 Annual Report

27th October 2012

Our Annual Report allows us the opportunity to recognize the individuals, foundations, business and nonprofit organizations that compliment and support the work that we do. What is remarkable is that each of you are making the effort to make a difference in the lives of individuals you will never meet. 2011 Annual Report

Agency tackling anger (Dallas Morning News – 5/28/06)

28th May 2006

Photgraph by LOUIS DeLUCA/DMN
From left: Joe Boyd, Lynette Payne and Nicole Roberts are all part

12:00 AM CDT on Sunday, May 28, 2006

BY ROBERT MILLER/ Dallas Morning News


Just the other day, a Fort Worth youth stabbed his brother to death because the younger brother grabbed and ate a piece of the older brother’s fried chicken.

The Galaxy Counseling Center’s Teen and Adult Anger Management Program recognizes that explosive nature. The program was created to provide ways for people to manage their anger and interact successfully.

Lynette Payne is executive director of the Garland agency, which accepts clients from all over.

“For teens, this program successfully intercedes before youth become involved in violence in schools and other situations or gang activity and before destructive behaviors worsen,” she said.

“For adults, if this behavior is not addressed, the problem can escalate into child abuse, domestic violence, road rage, workplace violence and addiction.”

Family safety concerns

Ms. Payne pointed out that the American Psychological Association says that one in 12 teens reports being threatened or injured with a weapon each year. And the United Way’s needs assessment has said that the issue of family safety is one of high concern.

Teen and Adult Anger Management Program sessions for adults run 90 minutes per week for 12 weeks. They’re offered on Tuesday or Wednesday evenings or Saturday during the day.

The teen sessions, which run about an hour, are held Saturdays for 15 weeks.

The courses help clients understand the causes and remedies of their anger. The sessions are small, usually six to 12 people, to encourage open discussion.

Since clients don’t all enter or leave the program the same week, the “open session procedure allows each client to learn from others, perhaps further along, as well as from the counselors,” said Nicole Roberts, the clinical director.

Ms. Payne said that about 70 percent of the clients are mandated to attend by a court, a school district or other institution. The rest enroll on their own.

“Those mandated to attend receive a certificate at the end of the program to take back to the court,” she said.

There are two counselors per session – all part-time employees – and they make sure that no one monopolizes the session.

Clients can also arrange for private sessions at $25 each.

“Some want to come back for refresher courses after completing the course – they can come back anytime,” Ms. Payne said. “It helps reinforce what they learned the first time around.

“We have good outcomes, a 94 percent success rate for adults and a 90 percent for teens.”

Each client undergoes a twofold evaluation at the end of the course, one by the counselor and the other by the client himself.

Galaxy Counseling Center, a United Way affiliate, has a sliding fee scale based on the client’s ability to pay.

The program “is also a great resource for local area businesses and their employees,” Ms. Payne said.

“Galaxy can provide an interactive seminar that employs discussion and role play to gain insights into thoughts and emotions that contribute to the escalation of anger and stress.”

Unexcused absences


The agency’s Truancy Intervention and Prevention Program works to reduce unexcused absences among elementary school students.

The program was developed at the request of Judge John Sholden, with initial funding for research and curriculum development provided by Ecolab Inc.

“Truancy is considered a ‘gateway offense’ because of a positive correlation between poor school performance, illiteracy and delinquent or criminal behavior,” Ms. Roberts said.

“We work with parents and kids,” providing parenting skills, communications with the kids, working with each family and advising them how to manage stress and time management.

“We help kids get a routine because usually parents and kids are running in different directions in the morning.”

It also helps to get kids and parents to enter into a contract of what is expected from each.

And Galaxy added a program for Spanish-speaking families last month.

The earlier you involve the children and their parents, the less truancy will remain an issue, Ms. Roberts said.

Gala on Saturday

Galaxy Counseling Center will hold its 12th annual gala, “Deep in the Heart,” at 7 p.m. Saturday at the ranch home of Karen and Joe Boyd in Garland.

Mr. Boyd is the president of Galaxy’s board of directors.

There will be a silent auction (donated items are welcome), barbecue and dancing to the music of the Tommy Irvin Band.

Lynn Erickson is honorary chair and presenting sponsor.

Other sponsors include EAS Contracting LP, Ebby Halliday Realtors, General Dynamics, Mr. and Mrs. Boyd, KPMG and Sprong Design.

Tickets are $75 each or $125 per couple.

Call Lacie Kuhn at 972-272-4429, Ext. 232, or e-mail lkuhn


Counseling Service sees results (Dallas Morning News – 1/25/04)

25th January 2004

BY ROBERT MILLER/ Dallas Morning News

12:00 AM CDT on Sunday, January 25, 2004

Galaxy Counseling Center Service in Garland knows it can help the troubled clientele in the area it serves, which si roughly the northeastern quadrant of Dallas County.

The records bear this out, says Dr.Elaine Ply, executive director of this United Way partner agency.

“We’re currently compiling figures for 2003, which should be completed any day, and we find that 75 percent of adults counseled by Galaxy have shown significant clinical improvement.”

The year before, she said, 72 percent of adults and 66 percent of the children whom Galaxy served showed significant clinical improvement.

Galaxy schedules around 4,500 sessions each year for individuals, families and groups, just a fraction of the people who need it, Dr. Ply said.

“Our community is filled with children, adolescents and adults who have been physically or emotionally abused or neglected; struggle with conflict, anger and violence; are dealing with separation, divorce and single parenting; suffer from depression and chronic mental illness; and experience relationship problems and isolation.

“Approximately 560,000 adults and 199,000 children in North Texas currently suffer from mental disorders, “she said.

Galaxy and other nonprofit agencies are stretching their funding to the limits, Dr. Ply said, and there is more bad news to come.

“As a result of the 78th legislative session, the Dallas area is expected to lose more that $2 million in funding for community mental health service for the 2004-05 biennium.

Economic Stress

Dr. Ply blames the economy for many of the problems she sees.

“We’ve seen the income of our clientele dropping 10 to 20 percent a year, along with an increase in the unemployed and the underemployed, which means that even some of those with jobs have no insurance but can’t qualify for Medicaid,” she said.

“Some 67 percent of Galaxy’s clients report total household incomes of less than $25,000,” and job-related stress affects the whole family, Dr. Ply said. “Folks may have problems with child rearing because there is more stress on the kinds.”

But, she emphasized, “I don’t think the future is bleak. I see part of the hope for families and children.

“We can teach families to cope with greater stress, we can teach parents to do a better hob of parenting, and I’ve seen a snowball effect in the right direction.”

Her agency is hobbled by limited resources, but Dr. Ply is upbeat.

For one thing, she said, Galaxy is creative with its funding, volunteers and resources.

“We have set up Galaxy’s Truancy Intervention &Prevention Program, the only program in North Texas working with elementary age truancy from kindergarten and up.

“This four-week program teaches children and their families to better manage time, stress and responsibility, thus decreasing truancy violations.”

The agency also offers Teen & Adult Anger Management Programs — 12 weeks for adults and 15 weeks for teens — that teach people to manage anger by emphasizing individual choice and responsibility.

And galaxy’s Sexual Abuse Treatment Program provides ongoing therapy for survivors and offenders. “Te adult survivors program works to promote healing from childhood sexual abuse, including the aftereffects of post traumatic stress syndrome, disturbed relationships and depression,” Dr. Ply said.

“The perpetrators program works to uncover the personal cycle of offending behavior and prevent future sexual abuse.

Good Move

Galaxy was created in 1975 by Soroptimist International, an all-women nonprofit organization.

It has eight full-time staff members and 25 part-time therapists on contract, including one who speaks Spanish and another who speaks Vietnamese.

To maximize access, services are provided six days a week in both daytime and evening in three languages – English, Spanish, and Vietnamese.

The agency gets help from five or six student interns per year and the master’s and doctoral level, and two psychology interns come from a consortium that includes Southern Methodist University and University of North Texas at Dallas.

Amy Walton, director of development, says galaxy got good advice from United Way of Metropolitan Dallas, which provided $169,000 in funding last year.

United Way helped Galaxy decide to move four years ago to 1025 S. Jupiter Road in Garland. The new location is accessible to DART bus routes and the DART light-rail line.

Galaxy’s feed are on a sliding scale, and it offers scholarships for services. It also relies on Medicare, Medicaid, the state’s NorthStar financial aid program, the United Way’s annual grant and good friends.

Those include Lynn Erikson who has been the title sponsor of its program the last several years, donating $15,000 annually.

Others are the Hillcrest Foundations, $20,000; the Harold Simmons Foundations, $10,000; Morgan and Lena Jones/American Pawn Superstores, $6,000; State Farm Insurance Cos., $5,000; and Ecolab Foundation and Speedway Children’s Charities, $2,500 each.

For more information, call Amy Walton at 972-272-4429, Ext 232, fax 972-494, 2812 or visit

Galaxy shares its story (Garland Morning News – 4/17/03)

17th April 2003

Thursday, April 17, 2003


One of the fine success stories in Garland is the grown of Galaxy Counseling Center. Dr. Elaine Ply, executive director of the center for 25 years, has guided its development into a family-oriented agency with more than 20 therapists.

Galaxy is not located in a spacious building at 1025 S. Jupiter Road, a giant step up from its beginnings. Baker Furniture has donated enough comfortable sofas and chairs for the therapists’ rooms to take on a homey feeling. Therapists add their own accessories so that no two rooms are alike. More than 20 therapists help the center in its mission to help individuals and families solve problems that may have existed for generations.

“Changing lives on family at a time” is the succinct way the staff refers to its work. Among the first nonprofit comprehensive counseling agencies in northeast Dallas County, Galaxy is supported by grants, sliding-scale payment for services and hundreds of donations small and large. An annual fund-raiser has become one of Garland’s major events.

In the early 70s, members of Soroptimist International in Garland saw the need for counseling help for girls. The club sponsored a home where three or four girls could live with a housemother to help improve their young lives. The need far exceeded the facility, leading to an office on the downtown square, which was quickly outgrown. Clients soon included both sexes and all ages.

Soroptimists are women from different professions who pledge to help the community. The club boosted funds by sponsoring garage sales and a Christmas tour of homes. Billie Johnson, a local banker and Soroptimist member, finds a number of homes to open for the tours.

While Soroptimists still contribute to Galaxy, major funds also come from the United Way of Metropolitan Dallas, private grants, individual and corporate donations and sliding-scale client fees.

Bill Bell, a friendly Canadian import, is president of the galaxy board. He and Amy Walton, Galaxy’s Development director, led a tour of the building at an April 8 open house and luncheon, ending in the room completely furnished by kraft Foods, a major corporate sponsor. On the Border sent a fajita buffet for the community luncheon, where guests are while listening t Dr. Ply’s description of the center’s growth.

Members of the Leadership Garland, sponsored by the Garland Chamber of Commerce, were among the guests.

Volunteers are always welcome, Ms. Walton said. The number is 972-272-4429

Counsel center recognizes chief’s 25 years of caring (Garland Morning News – 11/21/02)

21st November 2002

Director making plans to expand services to provide for more clients

BY MARINA MARTINEZ/ Mesquite Morning News

Thursday, November 21, 2002

There’s a respect, a trust that forms wherever Elaine Ply goes.

The reputation preceded her as she settled in at Galaxy Counseling Center 25 years ago. Now, Dr. Ply’s reputation and galaxy’s are one and the same.

Dr. Ply helped develop the center into a safe house where more than 1,500 clients are helped to feel more at eas each yeat.

The center staff help a reception Friday honoring Dr. Ply’s accomplishments and commitment to her work.

“We want to share Elaine with the community,” said board president John Dornheim. “So much of the spirit of the center is Elaine’s spirit.”

The center’s 48-year-old source of strength wiggled her great-grandmother’s golden ring, her inspiration, around her right ring finger at the reception, contemplating what the next 25 years will be like, whether she’ll still be around as executive director or as a volunteer.

“The main thing is for us to continue to make sure we keep a pulse on the community, to know what they nee,” she said.

She knew of the reception but cried when Garland City Council member Jackie Feagan read a mayor’s office proclamation for Dr. Elaine Ply Day.

Work’s not done.

She feels, however, that there is more to do.

Dr. Ply wants to make sure the center provides counseling for people who speak Chinese dialects, Vietnamese, or Spanish..

The center, named for the galaxy of children who need help, moved in 1998 to its current location, 1025 S. Jupiter Road, around the corner from Dallas Area Rapid Transit’s new Forest/ Jupiter light rail station. Easier access because of the station, which opened Monday, means more clients will be able to use Galaxy’s services.

“We signed a 10-year lease because of DART,” Dr. Ply said.

As with any nonprofit agency, finding funds to keep it going is a challenge.

Dr. Ply helped find many creative ways to raise money, including a bowl-a-thon and driving at a go-kart track.

“It was the first time I have ever bowled under 100,” she said with a laugh. “That’s good isn’t it? After that, it was terrible,”

The most recent creative fundraiser involves Town east mall.

Shoppers who purchase $5 tickets from Galaxy can shop after hours, from 7 to 10 p.m., Sunday at An Evening with Giving. Patrons can enjoy store discounts, a Mesquite Symphonic Band concert, door prizes, a marionette show and free gift-wrapping and refreshments.

How she started

As naturally gifted as she may seem to her peers, Dr. Ply didn’t know what career path to take until college.

She recalled an instructor at Eastfield College telling a story of a student “so emotionally disturbed she wasn’t able to stay in the class.”

“I thought, ‘ What drives that kid of behavior? How do you help them?'”

Texas Woman’s University professor Bud Littlefield noticed a glimmer of a therapist who could help people overcome traumatic experiences.

“I know who is good and who would be good, and I know Elaine would be,” he said.

Dr. Littlefield introduced Dr. Ply to galaxy counseling Center, where she is now executive director. The center was created by Soroptimist Internation of Garland in 1975. The organization had run a girl’s shelter in a three-bedroom house on Garland Avenue.

In 1994, Dr. Ply applied for an internship at Texas Woman’s university Counseling Center.

She counseled students about drug, alcohol and physical abuse. She also advised about eating disorders, depression and anxiety. A requirement toward her doctorate, the internship also allowed her to add to her experience with college-age people.

She was devoted to her responsibilities there, simultaneously running Galaxy.

“The thing that impressed us most is she’d had a long career as a clinician and was coming back to take an internship with us,” said Don Rosen, the university center director. “It was very obvious to use early on that she had the experience, and it was quality.”

She helped start a truancy program in 2001 to help students and their families face the importance of getting to school.

Dr. Ply helped galaxy begin its program for children, teens and adults who have been sexually abused.

It was a relief because I saw so many children and women that were suffering so much,” she said.

Her passion has always been helping children and adolescents. At the center, children as young as 3 are treated for abuse ad behavioral disorders.

“She had a real knack for relating to people, especially youth,” Dr. Littlefield said. “She’s one of these Winston Churchill people who never, never give up. She be there until the last dog dies.”

Sr. Ply has never been abused, but she has a necessary level of empathy for clients and learns more every day.

“I had difficulty getting along with peers … and i came from a family that didn’t handle their anger very well,” she said.

“I’m not really sure that it matter, I think, what your elate to, whether its and abuse victim or going through a divorce or lost someone to a terminal illness, what you respond to is the depth and hurt of pain. We’ve all experienced loss and grief and hurt and anger. The human emotions are always similar. It really does take empathy — you have to be able to put yourself in their shoes.

“Listening can help you help others. The most important thing is counseling clients is learning from other clients. It teaches you about you, and teaches you about life and what other clients might be going through.”