Changes in store for Sturgis Consultation Center

In 1988, we embarked on an exciting new venture called Sturgis Consultation Center.

At that time, there were no other counseling practices in Sturgis. We believed that by offering counseling services we could help the community be a healthier place in which to live. Our goal was to support people in reaching their full potential to lead happy and productive lives.

We wanted to assist parents in raising well-adjusted children by creating families that would be safe, nurturing, and supportive. We also wanted to help adults and kids in negotiating the roadblocks that got in the way of achieving these goals.

We have always received more than we have given. Your willingness to trust us and to invite us into your lives to work with you for a time on your journey has been a privilege. To see you grow and achieve your goals has been a gift, and we thank you.

The center is about to begin an exciting new chapter in our venture. We have sold our office building of 30 years, formally Sue’s grandparents’ home. Thanks to the gracious generosity of St. John’s Episcopal Church, we have relocated our offices to the lower level of the church’s Great Hall at 110 South Clay. We are in the process of becoming a nonprofit organization. These changes will enable us to reach out to the community in new and exciting ways. With the help of a creative board of directors made up of dedicated members of our community, we hope to expand our goals by reaching out in new ways to those who want counseling services but have trouble accessing.

We intend to partner with others concerned about the current challenges facing our community and society in the areas of mental health and wellness.

We plan to offer programs to complement current efforts to address such issues as suicide and addiction.

We are excited about this new chapter for Sturgis Consultation Center and are energized by the opportunity to support our community in new ways. Our address has changed, but not our phone number, and certainly not our commitment to help you. Please continue to reach out to us if we can be of assistance.

Therapy Dogs are Valuable in a Variety of Settings

Husband and Wife:

Dr. Sara Sue Schaeffer, LPC, LMFT, ACS

Dr. Schaeffer has nearly 30 years of experience as a counselor in private practice, clinical supervisor, school counselor, counselor educator, and hospital administrator.  She was the first chair of the Michigan Board of Counseling and is past president of the Michigan Counseling Association.


Dr. Donald Amidon, LPC, LMFT, ACS

Dr. Amidon has served as a counselor, marriage and family therapist, clinical supervisor, navy chaplain, and hospital service chief for over 30 years.  He is an

ordained minister and has served as board president for Hospice and Visiting

                                     Nurse programs.

Question: I understand that you use therapy dogs in your practice. Is this true? How does it work?

Answer: Therapy dogs have been an important part of our practice for over 15 years. Not only have they helped us with patients in our office, but have worked with us as Red Cross volunteers to help military families, supported breast cancer patients, visited patients in nursing homes, and been “presenters” at a program on pet-assisted therapy at the Michigan Counseling Association’s annual conference.

Therapy dogs work in a variety of settings in addition to psychotherapy offices and nursing homes including schools, hospitals, courtrooms and prisons.
American Humane Association defines animal-assisted therapy, or AAT, as “a goal-directed intervention in which an animal is incorporated as an integral part of the clinical health-care treatment process. AAT is delivered or directed by a professional health or human service provider who demonstrates skill and expertise regarding the clinical applications of human-animal interactions.“
Cynthia Chandler is a counseling professor at the University of North Texas, Center for Animal-Assisted Therapy’s founder and director and the author of “Animal Assisted Therapy in Counseling.” Chandler shares a study that showed working with a therapy dog resulted in a significant drop in stress hormones such as cortisol, adrenaline and aldosterone and an increase in “health inducing and social inducing” hormones such as oxytocin, dopamine and endorphins after 20 minutes with a therapy dog.

Other studies show that the use of therapy dogs benefits heart patients and lowers of blood pressure, helps autistic children with relationship skills, and reduces anxiety for patients undergoing MRI and for children and adults involved in court proceedings, and reduces depression in the elderly with dementia.
Chandler believes the key to these positive benefits is an increase in the hormone oxytocin, which she describes as “one of the best, most powerful, wonderful, healthy social hormones we have and it’s the one that’s the most grossly affected in a positive way through human-animal interaction.”

We have seen firsthand the healing value of animals as we have worked with our therapy dogs. When our first therapy dogs, Amber, a cocker spaniel, and Lacey, a toy poodle, died, we were so touched by the many messages from people whose lives they touched, sharing with us what a positive difference they made.

Our newest therapy dog is our toy poodle, Lexi, who has just earned her therapy dog credentials. She joins big sister and fellow therapy dog Carly, our Cavalier King Charles Spaniel.