Wise Counsel on Mental Health

Mental health professionals help navigate simple life transitions and more serious disorders.

According to an online Mental Health Fact sheet published by the National Alliance on Mental Illness, (NAMI; 2.nami.org), one in five adults—approximately 43.8 million Americans—and at least 20 percent of youth ages 13 to 18 experience mental illness in a given year. Over half of these adults, and nearly half of these kids, receive no mental health services in that time frame. In spite of these rather deplorable numbers, however, mental health care service use has risen in recent years. This is due in part, says Calli Institute managing partner and co-owner Liz Anderson, to recent media campaigns to reduce the stigma associated with mental illness. “Calli Institute itself was opened with reduction of mental illness stigma in mind,” Anderson says. Over time, many clinics in the Maple Grove area have sprung up to serve the needs of the mental health community.

What kinds of services are available?

Who are the providers of these services? And how does a potential client wade through a list of possible providers to come up with someone who will make a difference in his or her life? We posed these and other questions to mental health care providers at two Maple Grove clinics, the Calli Institute and Reimann Counseling Clinic.

Who are they?

Cathy Malmon and Leigh Hagglund co-own (along with Liz Anderson) the Calli Institute and work there with fellow professional Kathleen Lowry. Malmon is a licensed marriage and family therapist (LMFT) and a licensed, independent clinical social worker (LICSW). Hagglund is a certified nurse practitioner (CNP) specializing in psych-mental health. Lowry is an LMFT, a licensed professional clinical counselor and a life coach.

Jenny Reimann is the owner of Reimann Counseling Clinic and an LICSW. She works at the Reimann Clinic in partnership with several other care providers whom she calls psychotherapists.

What services do they provide?

“At Reimann Clinic we practice mental health counseling,” says Reimann. “We meet people individually or as couples to work through their issues.” None of the professionals in her group prescribe drugs. She says the most common problems bringing clients into her practice are depression, anxiety, relationships and issues surrounding work. These may include work dissatisfaction, work conflict or the desire to change one’s working status.

Hagglund says the three most common reasons clients seek her assistance are diagnostic evaluations, and medication therapy and medication management. The most prevalent disorders she treats are depression and anxiety. The right medication, she says, “can make a huge difference in helping people get back to a place where they can function again.”

Malmon offers several talk therapy modalities, including psychodynamics (defined as the interrelation of the conscious and unconscious mental and emotional forces that determine personality and motivation) and mindfulness, among others. Some common reasons people seek assistance are life changes, developing coping skills, and trauma.

Recent Calli Institute hire Kathleen Lowry practices in a number of areas but helped us best understand the specific goals and practices of a life coach.

How do potential clients know if a problem is serious enough to seek mental health treatment?

Although Reimann already treats many people with depression, anxiety and job issues, she thinks these problems are exceedingly widespread and would welcome more clients dealing with challenges in this area. “People tend to think their problem has to be really bad to seek help,” she says, “but anyone experiencing any of these should consider treatment.”

Malmon believes “a big problem in our fast-paced, technical world is that we are unconnected, from ourselves, our bodies, our family and friends. Our ancestors went to the wise men or women to seek counsel.” Therapists and life coaches fulfill these functions in modern times and can be consulted whenever such wisdom is desired. More specifically, Malmon thinks people don’t seek therapy often enough for navigating and understanding their sexuality, and for consideration of end-of-life issues, such as dying well.

“We all get anxious, sad, angry, uneasy, insecure, etc., about all kinds of situations,” Hagglund says.

“It makes perfect sense to seek counsel from either a life coach or a mental health professional if you are ambivalent about how to navigate through a normal life transition with grace. One can never have too large a support system,” she says.

What is a life coach and where do they fit in to mental health service provision?

“A life coach is someone who focuses on helping clients define goals, identify the necessary steps toward meeting those goals and perhaps work on addressing the barriers in the way of getting to the desired result,” says Lowry. While many mental health therapists incorporate goal setting into their practices, Lowry says there are three primary differences between life coaches and therapists: training, their approach to understanding how the past is affecting the client now and the role the therapist plays.

Although life coaches can perform useful services for clients, coaching is an unregulated and unlicensed field. If a client comes to a life coach with anxiety and depression from ideas, behaviors and emotions of the past, they might be referred to a therapist. And while a good life coach will hold a client accountable, giving them a “gentle nudge” to change a habit, for example, Lowry says that sometimes a client is in greater need of empathic listening and learning empathy for him or herself. These may be more accessible from a relationship with a licensed therapist.

Hagglund agrees. “A life coach is someone who provides guidance and motivation to people seeking assistance in achieving specific goals,” like getting a new job, making a move, or weight loss. “Life coaches work to help people realize their goals much like you would see a coach training an athlete. Life coaches are not professionally licensed and do not diagnose or treat mental health disorders, such as depression and anxiety. Most health insurance does not cover life-coaching fees,” she adds.

Malmon believes that “some clients don’t need the psychodynamic approach of understanding motivation, family history, etc.” In these cases, having a neutral person such as a life coach validate or encourage choices, without “the presumed heaviness of therapy,” is worth considering.

What’s the best way to choose a mental health care professional?

Referrals—from friends, family, or other health professionals—are a good way to find a service provider. “Check their licensure and whether or not they accept your insurance,” Hagglund advises. In trying to find the best client-professional fit, some providers offer brief telephone consultations. If not, Reimann says to find out as much as you can about the service provider on the internet. “Google, websites, even a photo can sometimes help,” she says. “Trusting your gut instinct,” Malmon says, is often the best predictor of whether the person will be a good fit for you.

(Clockwise from top: Kathleen Lowry, Liz Anderson and Cathy Malmon)

Group practices in Maple Grove that offer mental health care services:

The Calli Institute
Specialties: Depression, Anxiety, Complementary/Alternative Medicine

Reimann Counseling Clinic, PLLC
Specialties: Depression, Anxiety, Grief

Healthwise Behavioral Health & Wellness
Specialties: Mood Disorders, Testing and Evaluation, Medication Management

Minnesota Counseling and Couples Center, LLC
Specialties: Relationship Issues, Sex Therapy, Sexual Addiction

Innovative Psychological Consultants
Specialties: ADHD, Addiction, Anxiety

Hazelden in Maple Grove
Specialties: Addiction, Alcohol Abuse, Drug Abuse