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Local Counselor Keeps Promise: Runs Pro Bono Addiction Grief Group


Thomas Dwyer, Executive Director and founder of the Gateway Center for Counseling and Recovery, in New Providence, NJ, is keeping his promise of providing pro bono grief and bereavement group meetings for those who have lost a loved from drugs and/or alcohol.

When asked why he started this group, he said, “Several years ago, while working at a drug and alcohol rehabilitation facility, a young beautiful 24 year-old client of the agency died of a drug overdose.  At the time, I tried to help the grieving father find a bereavement support group that was focused on a loss from substance abuse.  I was shocked and frustrated when I could not find one.  I eventually provided the father the name of a peer support group that deals with the loss of a child but not necessarily due to substance abuse.   It was from that experience that I made a promise to myself that if I ever established a successful counseling practice, I would “give back” to the community this much needed service.”  Tom continued saying, “Fortunately, I am now in that position, so recently, I set up my first peer support group meeting called the Gateway Addiction Bereavement Group.  I have done research and I believe I am the only one in the State of NJ that is offering a weekly pro bono grief support group of this type that is facilitated by a professionally licensed counselor certified in grief and bereavement”.

Mr. Dwyer said that his group was almost at capacity before the first meeting.  He stated that he initially contacted some colleagues in his professional network and the phone soon began to ring from those asking to join the group.  After the first couple of weeks, he capped the size of the group due to space restrictions but now that the summer months are here, some group members cannot commit to attending weekly, so he is opening up the registration for more group members.   In order to manage the group size, anyone interested in attending the group must call to register.  Mr. Dwyer stated he looks forward to the day when there is no need for his group.  “I wish there wasn’t a need but with 100 people dying each day in this country from a drug overdose and our current epidemic with heroin use, the need is strong.”

The Gateway Center for Counseling and Recovery provides counseling for mental health, family conflicts, substance abuse, and grief issues.  For more information go to or call (908) 665-1000.

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