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Community Highlights: Meet Cynthia Harris of New Day Counseling Center, Inc.

Today we’d like to introduce you to Cynthia Harris.

Hi Cynthia, we’re thrilled to have a chance to learn your story today. So, before we get into specifics, maybe you can briefly walk us through how you got to where you are today?
Therapy has been our family business my whole life. My life as a social worker began with my mother being a licensed counselor, my step-father being a social worker, and my step-mother being a licensed psychologist. In addition, my father has been an “unofficial” counselor as an AA sponsor for 30 years. Consequently, I grew up learning how to talk to people about their struggles and challenges in a way that makes them feel comfortable and safe. My first real social work job was at the public health department in the Sexually Transmitted Disease clinic. My job was to interview clinic patients about their recent sex partners and how they could be located. What kinds of sexual activity do they engage in, when, and how often. And whether the patient was going to tell/her contacts that they had tested positive for an STD. If not, it was my job to locate them and tell them they needed medical attention. This often necessitated going to strip clubs, seedy motels, and large rooming houses where prostitutes would service the whole house of construction workers and laborers. I also learned how to draw blood in the field to test for HIV or Syphilis and learned some Spanish to communicate the issues involved in testing and treatment. I loved this job so much that I decided to return to school, get my Master’s degree, and make social work my new career. It was challenging to get people to talk about the most intimate details of their sex lives, and I felt like if I could earn their trust, I could transfer those skills to other issues that created stress in people’s lives.

After graduate school, I went on to Child Protective Services, where I worked in different units, including the sexual abuse unit, drug-addicted mothers and drug-exposed newborns, rural abuse investigations, and foster care and adoption licensing. I also worked counseling sex offenders for 4 years and worked in a therapeutic foster home agency. I came to love the kids I worked for and put lots of my energy into trying to protect them and improve their home lives when possible.

I began my private practice in Texas in 1994 and moved to NC in 2002, where I set up New Day Counseling Center, Inc., employing 3 additional therapists in my group practice. We treat children, adolescents, couples, families, and individuals for various issues, including mood disorders, anger management, family discord, and child behavior issues. I enjoy working with various populations; children are challenging, fun, and eager to vent their frustrations to a caring therapist. Older adults are going through lots of life changes and often need someone with whom to discuss ideas and strategies for maintaining or creating a peaceful life. Couples and families have various needs, and everyone wants to be heard and acknowledged.

Would you say it’s been a smooth road, and if not, what are some of the biggest challenges you’ve faced along the way?
The road has been an interesting one with challenges in learning how to run and manage a diverse business, supervise and manage employees, and attend to clients’ needs. The business aspect has been the most difficult, as I am a social worker and prefer to attend to the needs of people vs. learning the various laws and policies of owning a business property and running it properly. Thankfully, my husband and business partner has a good head for those tasks and is an enormous asset, as is my daughter, Lindsey Castruita-Perez, our office manager. The latter easily handles the billing, scheduling, and various other tasks.

Alright, so let’s switch gears a bit and talk business. What should we know?
New Day Counseling Center, Inc was formed in 2004 and has been serving the military and civilian population in Fayetteville, NC, since then. We offer individual, couples, family, child, and adolescent counseling with several providers from which to choose. We have veteran and civilian therapists specializing in treating family discord, trauma and PTSD, mood and behavioral challenges, communication, anger management, and anxiety. We offer therapy in person, via video call, or phone call, and accept Tricare, Medicare, Blue Cross Blue Shield, and Military One Source.

Since the pandemic, we have all had to shift our ways of doing things. And in the process, some new options have emerged. You can now have therapy from the comfort of your home, don’t have to deal with the stress, inconvenience, or travel costs of in-person therapy, and we can serve anyone in the State instead of our local city. Suppose you prefer to see your therapist in person that is available as well. In addition, we have outdoor seating areas for clients that want to smoke or enjoy nature while having their therapy sessions.

Who else deserves credit in your story?
My mentors have been my parents, retired therapists Linda Braswell and David Sullivan, who taught me many valuable lessons in communication, business advice, and never-ending support. My other parents, Brian Moore and Sandy Wixson have taught me addiction recovery skills and helped support my many questions. Likewise, my husband is my tech consultant, head of AR & billing, and fill-in office manager as needed. Daughter Lindsey Castuita-Perez is my right hand, scheduling new clients, billing therapy sessions, and trouble-shooting insurance questions.

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1 Comment

  1. Brian Moore .

    July 29, 2022 at 11:58 pm

    What a wonderful article about a very important mental health resource in the community.

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