Shortage in therapists pushes local group to launch counseling service


A group of psychologists is working to address the need and demand for counseling in the Bismarck-Mandan area.

According to the American Psychological Association, 33% of counties in the United States have no records of licensed psychologists, with the lowest concentration of licensed psychologists in Southern and Midwestern states.

A group of therapists is working to address the need and demand in the Bismarck-Mandan area.

Despite longer wait times to receive mental health care, Beacon Counseling Services is taking clients right away.

Lory Hellman is a licensed professional clinical counselor at Beacon Counseling Services. She says, “We all had been working at another location for years and things are changing there so that they’re not doing individual therapy anymore as much and that’s what we all went to school to do so.”

That’s how Beacon Counseling was born in January this year.

“I provide individual therapy for adults with depression, anxiety, trauma, bipolar disorder pretty much anything and everything,” Hellman explained.

Hellman says many of her clients never experienced depression, anxiety, or addiction until the pandemic took hold.

Jennifer Gatzke agrees that the pandemic was the catalyst for the formation of the Beacon team.

Gatzke, who is also a Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor say, “We saw a need in the community. We had our own morals and values and desires to do something different just to fill in the gaps in the community and also personally we thought there’s some things missing.”

She explains that people who can’t get the care they need may have to cope with worsening mental health symptoms, an increased risk of substance abuse, lower-quality relationships, and difficulty functioning in their day-to-day lives.

So, what does Beacon symbolize?

“We really gravitated towards being that beacon of hope, beacon of light for the community. As a therapist, it’s kind of similar like a lighthouse. You don’t rescue you, don’t fix you, just guide a person on their own journey to find a safe harbor,” Gatzke said.

Hellman shared some mental health tips, “You have to do something with your mind. You have to distract somehow with your mind. Think about something positive. That’s where a lot of visualization or meditation comes in.”

She also says that prayer is helpful because it can be a coping skill for people.

Both counselors agree that changing the way you think can lead to a more positive outcome.

As of right now, Beacon Counseling does not offer prescriptions, but will refer clients to other medical partners who do offer those services as needed.

For more information on Beacon Counseling, click here.

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