CICERO – Kathleen Allen is a child of the ’60s. She developed a wanderlust while in her first years of college that carried her to Santa Fe, N.M., where she found the trail head to her true calling.
Allen, a licensed clinical professional counselor, is celebrating her 25th year at Family Service & Mental Health Center. She started as a case manager, helping people make the transition from hospital to home. On occasion, she still will visit clients during a crisis. Her primary duties as a clinical professional counselor, however, are to see clients who have problems and want to change.
“I respond to what is in front of me,” she said. “It’s hard to explain precisely, except we live in a complex society where people expect more of themselves and others. It makes sense to help them see that. I try to makes them see what’s possible, change their perspective. I tell them my job is to put myself out of business,” Allen said.
Her clients come to her for reasons from anxiety disorders to schizophrenia. Sometimes, Allen will consult with the client’s doctor or their family members in helping them find a solution to their problems.
“What I’ve noticed lately is that not being able to meet these expectations brings anxiety,” she said. “In general, it’s folks that can’t manage their response to their environment.”
Over the past 25 years, Allen said has seen changes in the in the field at large.
“Funding has decreased. Unfortunately, social services are low on the list of priorities in state and federal government,” Allen said. “Without mental health, there is no health. This is as important as any physical health challenge. If you can’t think or respond to what’s going on around you, then nothing goes well.”
She said she has also seen the demographics change in the area of her practice. But the needs for her service haven’t changed all that much with the demographic shift.
“In general, people have the same issues no matter what their cultural background,” Allen said. “They want to have a comfortable life that makes them happy.”