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Wausa facility offers access to mental health services

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WAUSA – Katie Anderson is here to help people with their mental health issues.

The 29-year-old is a licensed independent mental health practitioner who has been offering her services at the Wausa Medical Clinic since March 2022.

When she started working in Wausa, Anderson was only in the community for one afternoon a week. However, her availability since has expanded to two full days a week – Mondays and Thursdays.

She noted she has immediate openings for new clients.

“As we’ve expanded, the appointments have been filling up really well,” Anderson said. “For the most part, it’s picked up more than one might think in a small town.”

She explained she provides mental health counseling to adults and teenagers from Wausa and the surrounding area.

“I would say word of mouth, whether that’s in the community or from people’s medical providers – usually, when someone’s struggling with depression or anxiety, they go to their doctor for medication,” Anderson said, noting how people likely have heard about the services she offers.

She explained her approach to mental health care is guided by her professional values of authenticity – being open and honest with her clients – and self-determination – the right for clients to each choose their provider and treatment – as well as client-centered care.

“Those are things that I value and I would want in a provider,” Anderson said. “Every therapist is going to be different. Every therapist’s approach is going to be different. You want a large variety of different providers.”

In addition to offering therapy services, she described herself as passionate about suicide prevention efforts through crisis intervention, community education and advocacy efforts to address systemic barriers to care.

“You’re just seeing a larger movement in society of being more open to (mental health services) and people just being more open about their mental health,” Anderson said. “That trend is slowly creeping in to the rural areas.

“People are more open to it and people like being able to access these services in a medical clinic because it is a little bit more confidential than if your car is sitting parked in front of a counseling agency,” she said.

The Ponca native explained she always has been interested in the human brain and its development, which led her to explore a couple of different career paths while she attended college.

She graduated in 2016 from the University of South Dakota in Vermillion, S.D., with a bachelor’s degree in psychology and in 2018 from USD in Sioux Falls, S.D., with a master’s degree in social work.

“Because I have the background in social work, there’s an emphasis on advocacy, and not all social workers go to be a therapist,” Anderson said. “There are other things that social workers can do.”

She noted the Osmond General Hospital got in touch with her during the summer of 2021 about providing mental health services in Wausa after a former colleague of hers passed along her contact information.

“There were no mental health services being provided here at the time,” Anderson said. “Over the course of several months, I got this up and going.”

At the time, Anderson was licensed as a clinical social worker in South Dakota thanks to another job she has in inpatient mental health in Yankton.

She obtained a Nebraska license to become an independent mental health practitioner in September 2021 so she could provide mental health services in Wausa.

“Think about the surrounding communities here,” Anderson said. “Wausa is closer for most people because otherwise you’re either going to Norfolk or going to Yankton.

“A lot of agencies – I can’t speak for all of them – but there are a lot of them that currently have wait lists that are full,” she said. “It’s not easy to get into a mental health provider right now.”

Anderson, who also is an adjunct instructor of social work at USD in Vermillion, noted she meets with most of her clients either weekly or every other week in Wausa.

“It’s kind of up to that person if they want to do weekly, every other week – some do even less,” Anderson said.

Among the mental health issues Anderson sees are depression and anxiety. Her specialties are life transitions, suicidal ideation and teen issues.

She noted she always wants to see each of her clients make progress in their mental health therapy.

“It’s different for everybody,” Anderson said. “Coming to see a licensed provider is different than just talking to a friend – and it should be. Having measurable goals sets those two situations apart.”

For more information or to set up an appointment with Anderson, people may call the Wausa Medical Clinic at 402586-2244.