From a long “dream-phase” to opening Imagine Mental Health Counseling in July 2021, Shari Phillips, Katie Tyrrell and Cheri Greenwaldt enjoy supporting the community as a team.
The counseling center offers outpatient mental health care for children 5 years old and up and adults, including diagnostic assessments, treatment planning and therapeutic care like individual counseling, play therapy, somatic therapy and couples counseling. The center also has telehealth services depending on the type of therapy and client insurance. The three have worked in day treatment centers, transitional living, women’s centers, managed care organizations, crisis and in-home areas, which Phillips said will help them serve people’s variety of needs.
“This community could use as many providers as we can bring to it, so just being more people available to the community to get their services. The challenges with seeing people on waitlists … that’s hard. When you need help, you need it now,” Greenwaldt said. “Just being able to be available for the community because we know the need is here.”
"People need support."
— Shari Phillips
As community members who have worked in the area for a number of years, the team previously worked in various partnerships together and had talked about opening their own center. One day by the lake, Phillips remembers doodling a daisy—which is incorporated in their logo—and hoping to open a counseling center. While Phillips is the owner, all three are licensed professional clinical counselors.
Tyrrell first started seeing the need, specifically for people with developmental disabilities, when working in a group home. She has worked in the area for eight years and loves working with children.
After starting in the sciences and transitioning to psychology, Greenwaldt found “it felt like something I could do.” She has worked in the area for five years and enjoys working with couples. Phillips also transitioned into psychology and has worked in the area for 20 years.
“The piece that I’ve always loved is the ability to connect people to their goals and what they want to have happen in life and how to do that in many, many different ways, and I think counseling or therapy or psychology helps just that understanding of humans and how to help them get from A to B and watch that evolution of people changing,” Phillips said.
With the goal of helping people, Phillips, Tyrrell and Greenwaldt help one another with topics that can be heavy and offer each other advice. The support also comes between community partners like the schools, hospitals and human services that they hope to increase collaboration with, and help clients with person-centered care.
If the welcome signs in the waiting area are any indication, they aim to offer a comfortable space where people can come and just talk, work through topics in pajamas and laugh. The services are meant to be flexible and unique instead of stiff and uncomfortable, according to Tyrrell and Phillips.
“The medical field is so crazy, let’s make it user-friendly, break down barriers, less stigma … to make sure we’re meeting people where they are and it’s not complicated because it doesn’t need to be messy if it doesn’t have to be,” Phillips said. “It’s hard enough sometimes for people to reach out.”
The COVID-19 pandemic also created unique connections as the understanding came to a whole new level in therapy. Tyrrell said often the trauma the person has experienced isn’t always something they have experienced too.
“With COVID too it definitely really ramped up a lot of the stuff that people were already dealing with, and then with the challenges of everything going virtual for so long I think it made it so a lot more people were needing services and that was a hard thing to get into so being able to be available,” Tyrrell said.
"This community could use as many providers as we can bring to it."
— Cheri Greenwaldt
The challenges of the weighty and lengthy pandemic continue in every area of life, including as children return back to school and the county is experiencing a surge of COVID-19 cases.
“With the cases going up and everything right now, everybody’s becoming more aware again but for awhile I think people forgot that they were still carrying that weight of what’s going to happen with COVID and it’s just surprising how many times you had to remind people, ‘Hey, you’re still in a pandemic. This still sucks,’” Greenwaldt said.
While there are many challenges, Imagine Mental Health Counseling hopes to serve, connect, collaborate and be available because, as Phillips said, “people need support.”
“I think there’s a lot of trauma that is residual in our community, like there’s still trauma from the tornado, there’s still trauma from things that our community has been through and so recognizing that uniqueness of what that is,” Phillips said. “Just trying to look at that whole picture of how do we collectively heal as well as how do we heal people. And I think you do both by helping both.”
Imagine Mental Health is open Monday to Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. at 116 NW Ash Ave. (Hwy 10) Suite 2. You can stop by or call 218-632-4300 if you’re interested in an appointment. The center also takes referrals.
For more information, you can visit their website at imaginemhc.com.