VIVA Counseling



21% of low-income children and youth ages 6 through 17 have mental health problems.


Lifeline’s VIVA Counseling is a Behavioral Health Service for North County youth up to their 21st Birthday, who have Medi-Cal, or are uninsured or under-insured. The program consists of a brief therapeutic treatment that starts with the family meeting with the clinician, and centers on the mental health concerns that are most important to the youth and family. Together the clinician and family plan together how to best utilize the 14 sessions.


VIVA Counseling serves low-income youth in North San Diego County who are experiencing severe mental health issues including depression, anxiety, post-trauma, suicidal ideation, and other significant mental health conditions. VIVA provides comprehensive and preventive mental health care services. Therapeutic treatment start with identifying the mental health concerns that are most important to the youth and their family. Our clinicians work with youth and their families to plan a course of treatment that can include: individual, group, and family therapy, mental health rehabilitation services, psychiatric evaluations, and case management to address underlying issues that impact the youth’s mental health.

Youth clients and families may have co-occurring mental health and substance abuse issues. VIVA clinicians provide treatment for substance abuse and coordinate additional referrals to help youth and families with these issues. Clients may be seen at various schools in Vista and Oceanside, or at either of our Vista or Oceanside clinics.

Services Include:

  • Evaluation and assessment
  • Case management and/or rehabilitation services
  • Psychiatric evaluations and monitoring of medication
  • 14 treatment sessions (Please note that no-shows count towards the 14 treatment sessions
  • Clients who are only receiving family sessions are eligible for an additional 5 group or family sessions, for a total of 19 sessions


VIVA provides comprehensive and preventive health care services for youth up to age 21 who are enrolled in Medi-Cal, and who live, or attend school in North County. Lifeline also provides services for youth who are uninsured, or under-insured, by charging a fee for services that is adjusted based on the family’s ability to pay. 

Program Goals Include:

  • To provide excellent clinical treatment and programs that meet the behavioral, social, and emotional needs of children and adolescents
  • To strengthen families by helping them partner with schools and community resources
  • To provide complete wraparound service
  • To complement and create a unique treatment plan for each individual and family
  • To provide services in a manner that recognizes cultural, social, and economic barriers and needs
  • To be accountable for the outcomes of services provided


Janet was 17 years old and homeless when she came to Lifeline for help. Her father was mentally ill and, though Lifeline connected him to resources to obtain housing and enter the workforce, he preferred to live on the streets with his daughter.

To support Janet, the VIVA clinician shifted focus to helping her plan for a better future. Janet was suffering from severe depression. She needed help to work through her sense of responsibility for her father and to acknowledge his mental illness. Through therapy, Janet learned to recognize that she can be a supportive daughter without sharing her father’s homelessness. School-Based Mental Health helped Janet develop independent living skills, create a resume, apply for financial aid, and access transportation resources. Through the support of the VIVA program staff, Janet’s depression became less severe; she developed a plan for finishing high school, and is on her way to establishing her independence.


Last year the VIVA Counseling program served more than 377 youth and their families. Of youth served last year:

  • 92% participating in individual, family, and/or group counseling demonstrated a significant increase in positive behavior at home and in school, as measured by parent and youth surveys.
  • 98% demonstrated a decrease, or no increase, in substance abuse while in the program.
  • 99% avoided psychiatric hospitalization, or re-hospitalization, while in treatment.



VIVA Counseling aims to remove obstacles to improving mental health. Sometimes a small expense can be a significant barrier that prevents a youth client from attending school, keeping appointments, getting a job, or improving social skills. Breaking these barriers can be the key to a client’s success in the program. Common items that our clients need include bus passes, grocery store cards, hotel expenses for emergency housing, and school supplies. Click here to donate today!