The Center for Community Counseling began as Aslan Counseling Center
What began as “ a daydream” of Dr. Jan Moursund back in 1978 has become the only place in Lane County where adults with limited incomes can receive low cost, long term counseling.
As a lay reader at St. Thomas Episcopal Church, Moursund was expected to have a “mission,” or project to help the community. Moursund completed her doctorate in school psychology, so it seemed natural that she volunteer to spend one afternoon a week offering counseling for free. From this simple idea, came Aslan Counseling Center.
“I figured I’d bring my knitting and a good book,” Moursund remembers “and maybe someone would drop in to see me occasionally.” Within two weeks she was booked solid, and on March 17th, 1978 she saw her first client. Six months later, Moursund and another counselor were providing 8 hours of counseling a week.
At the suggestion of the church, Moursund and fellow counselor moved their operation into an old farmhouse located on the church property. That farmhouse – where CCC is still located today – had been used for Sunday school and as a haunted house. “We had to move out the lumber stored in there,” Moursund recalls. “And all we had were these two cruddy little rooms.” There was no working bathroom. The plumbing was not functioning in the kitchen, there was no heat, and there were electrical problems. The upstairs had been sealed off as a fire hazard.
But the clients kept coming – and so did therapists. As Moursund remembers, “the turning point – when we knew Aslan Counseling Center would be more than a 9 day wonder – was when graduate students from the Counseling Psychology Department at the U of O began to come to the Center for a field placement.”
By the time the agency was incorporated in 1980, it had a formal policy of serving adults with limited incomes and a sliding scale fee. The agency had to work hard to get everything it needed. Furniture, phones, answering machines, carpeting, and a working bathroom were all donated.
Moursund left Aslan Counseling Center in 1985, when money was found for a part time Clinical Director. Does she feel proud of Aslan today? Absolutely! “ Other people should be so lucky as to say, ‘look, I started that.’” But she is quick to give others credit. In addition to herself, Moursund says Maggie Wilson and Father Tainton were originally responsible for getting Aslan off the ground. Terry Fields, Janice Hanson, Samantha Hickman, Mabel McKinlay, Nancy Mulheim and Jim Witzig, were also instrumental in Aslan’s beginnings.
Moursund thinks Aslan succeeded because it filled a great need in the community – fulfilling, to some extent, its own destiny. “It was something about the time and climate,” she says. “It never required any push. A series of doors opened and we walked through.”
In April 1994, Aslan Counseling Center became the Center for Community Counseling.
Aslan the Lion
Aslan Counseling Center was named after the lion in the series of children’s books by C.S. Lewis. Jan Moursund, the founder of Aslan, liked the name because of an episode in Voyage of the Dawn Treader. In that book, a thoroughly disagreeable boy named Eustace leaves his friends, and through greed, gets turned into a dragon. Aslan the Lion comes to Eustace and helps him take off the dragon’s skin and turn back into a boy again. “It hurt worse and felt better than anything else I’d ever done,” Moursund remembers Eustace saying. As she says, it’s a great metaphor for counseling.