News Department

NewBridge Services promotes longtime staffer to head counseling services

PARSIPPANY-TROY HILLS, NJ (Morris County) — Viki Ferlauto, who as head of NewBridge Service’s psychiatric day treatment program for 24 years helped people with serious mental illness recover, has been promoted to executive director of counseling services.

“Viki cares so deeply about getting people on a path to healing by developing skills to successfully manage their lives,” NewBridge CEO Michelle Borden said. “She lives our mission of bringing balance to people’s lives, and I am confident all clients and staff will benefit from her leadership.” Ferlauto is a licensed professional counselor and approved clinical supervisor and holds a master’s degree in clinical psychology.

Ferlauto now oversees Adult and Family Services counseling in Morris, Passaic and Sussex counties, the Access department (clients’ first point of contact with NewBridge), and the psychiatric day treatment program offered in both Morris and Passaic counties.

“I am very committed to NewBridge; it has always felt like a second home to me,” Ferlauto said. “I’m so excited to build new relationships with staff I haven’t yet had the opportunity to work closely with.”

The Mental Health Association in New Jersey in 2020 named Ferlauto Behavioral Healthcare Hero for her innovative leadership during the COVID-19 pandemic. When the state went into shutdown on a mid-March Friday that year, Ferlauto developed a plan for staff to use conference calling — video conferencing wasn’t an option at that point— to resume group sessions on Monday. When restrictions eventually lifted, Ferlauto made arranged for clients’ safe return to in-person individual counseling sessions. Ferlauto serves on a NewBridge pandemic committee that ensures protocols to protect staff and clients are followed.

Ferlauto is passionate about suicide prevention. For the past 18 months, she has chaired a Zero Suicide implementation team at NewBridge, training the entire staff, not just clinicians, in suicide risk factors and warning signs, and how to get a person help.

“If you have the skills, you can save a life,” Ferlauto said. “Already, 60% of NewBridge’s staff has undergone the training.”

Another goal for Ferlauto is promoting connections between the various departments at NewBridge. Clinicians worked with clients throughout the pandemic, but without opportunity for face-to-face time with colleagues. “We were working as islands,” she said. “We’re now building bridges between teams to promote unity.”

About half of NewBridge clients continue to opt for virtual sessions because of health concerns or a lack of transportation options. Telehealth “has made treatment so much more accessible,” she said.

One of the challenges Ferlauto faces is the shortage of clinicians in the job market, a nationwide problem. Nonprofits like NewBridge compete with for-profits that can offer more lucrative higher compensation packages.

“What we do offer our staff is flexibility, and that is something many say they value,” Ferlauto said. “Another positive for NewBridge is the longevity of the leadership team, which promotes stability in the organization.”

Ferlauto knows firsthand that the work of mental health counseling is challenging, but also that it is incredibly fulfilling. “The rewards far outweigh the stress because you see people grow, and change, and move on,” the Morris County resident said.

Ferlauto is a proponent of a strong work-life balance for clients, staff and herself. When she is not working, Ferlauto enjoys spending time with family — including two young grandchildren, and playing pickleball, paddle boarding, walking, reading and traveling.

Jay Edwards

Born and raised in Northwest NJ, Jay has a degree in Communications and has had a life-long interest in local radio and various styles of music. Jay has held numerous jobs over the years such as stunt car driver, bartender, voice-over artist, traffic reporter (award winning), NY Yankee maintenance crewmember and peanut farm worker. His hobbies include mountain climbing, snowmobiling, cooking, performing stand-up comedy and he is an avid squirrel watcher. Jay has been a guest on America’s Morning Headquarters,program on The Weather Channel, and was interviewed by Sam Champion.

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