In the five years since Life Solution Center opened in Darien, thousands have walked through the doors looking for guidance and assistance in tackling life's unexpected problems.
Life Solution, created by Executive Director Maud Purcell, a psychotherapist, brings together more than 30 professionals of various backgrounds to offer a comprehensive approach to problems that couples, families or individuals face.
By gathering the professionals under what Purcell calls an "umbrella," clients' chances of working through their problems increase.
"We don't just approach (problems) from a pathological model, we look at problems as a normal part of living," Purcell said. "Everyone has problems, so when anyone comes in (we determine) how can we put together a team to best address the problem with which the family or individual presents."
The Life Solution Center offers more than just medical professionals to tackle the curveballs life may throw. There is also a private investigator, a nutritionist, hair and make-up stylist, wardrobe consultant and a plethora of other professionals.
Erica Jensen, owner of Helen Ainson, a specialty clothing store in Darien, is one of the three wardrobe consultants with Life Solution and works with clients to establish another level of confidence when navigating life.
"When you have confidence in the way you look, you have much more confidence in dealing with whatever situations you're going to deal with," Jensen said. "People need support mentally inside, but I think sometimes you can start with the outside in, instead of the inside out."
Using the Life Solution Center often is not a one-time experience.
"Once people become aware of the services and the people that could help them go through difficult times, they get used to it," Sandy Gomez, a child and adolescent psychiatrist, said. "I think it's something they make part of their life. They know there are people here that perhaps in the future they can consult with."
"(Relationships) may ebb and flow and there may be more or less need for the relationship (with the center) in people's lives, but it is always a resource for the person to be able to navigate," Bernstein said.
The center's goals, Purcell said, are about solving problems as quickly as possible. The center also seeks to provide a "life saver," Purcell said, for families, individuals or couples navigating through a transition or a crisis.
"No matter what the problem is, they know they can call us and there is a very good chance there's someone here who can help them and if we don't, we're all networked so well that we can find the right person in the community," Purcell said.
The benefit of having so many professionals under one roof is that it removes the complication of multiple, individual professionals coming from different areas to address a client's needs.
"Here, a common model can be hashed out among the practitioners and presented to the (clients)," Bernstein said. "Bringing together different philosophies allows for better care for the clients."
Not all of the partners involved with Life Solution work out of the office. Catherine Horan, an art therapist, for example, will work with her clients in her studio. Sometimes, her initial meeting with them will take place at the Old Kings Highway offices, but they will be transitioned to the studio, Horan said.
The Life Solution Center tends to individuals from all over Fairfield County. There is a demand for a second location, but definitive plans are not in place, Purcell said.
"I think people are willing to reach out for services, but they don't want people to know they did," Bernstein said. "The slightest perceived nick in the armor is a perceived weakness."
Lisa Gardner, an adult and teenager psychotherapist, agreed.
"Problems are a part of life, so it makes sense if your hairdresser or someone who is part of your life says maybe you should talk to someone who deals with (those sorts of issues) more than I do," Gardner said. "It's not will you need help, it's when you need help, where do you go."
At Life Solution, the professionals are willing to go "the extra mile" to make sure a family or client is comfortable, Gomez said.
"Everyone does work here from their hearts as well as their head," Purcell said.
"Once you know (Life Solution), it's yours forever," Gomez said.
firstname.lastname@example.org; 203-330-6583; @Meg_DarienNews