Keesler counsels college students
By Avery Leith
UW-Fox welcomed new mental
health counselor Hannah Keesler
to campus this fall.
A new mental health counselor began working with UW-Fox Valley students this fall. Hannah Keesler joined Doug Bisbee on the Menasha campus. Although both licensed professionals hold office hours at UW-Fox, they are contracted through Samaritan Counseling Center.
Keesler earned her undergraduate degree in counseling psychology from Morningside College in Sioux City, Iowa, followed by a master's degree in mental health counseling from UW-Stout.
Keesler began working for Samaritan Counseling Center after graduating from UW-Stout.
"Samaritan is more of basic mental health facility. That could be anyone: kids, adolescents, families, couples, the gamut of mental health concerns. I actually work with all those populations," Keesler said.
She gained experience working with college students during an internship at UW-Stout. "Anxiety, which seems to be the lay of the land for college students, is also very typical [with other types of patients]," Keesler said.
Josh Clearwater, a UW-Fox Valley sophomore, sought out Keesler's services when anxiety began to affect his performance in the classes.
"I went to talk to her in the beginning of October. I met with her for a few weeks, and actually I'm still meeting with her on an every other week basis," Clearwater said.
Keesler and Bisbee's services are confidential. The counselors cannot share clients' names with anyone, including faculty and staff.
Clearwater volunteered to share his story in hopes that it would help people in similar situations.
"Tests, speeches can cause [anxiety]. A lot of students don't realize they can get help for that stress. I'm just very happy I reached out to Hannah, she helped me a lot."
Faculty and staff regularly encourage students to use the services their tuition and fees fund.
"Student counseling is an important campus resource for our students as they are able to learn self-help tools like stress management, communication techniques and conflict resolution. The techniques learned may be incorporated today and into the future," assistant campus dean for student affairs Carla Rabe said.
Developing a personal connection with her clients is among Keesler's favorite parts of the job.
"I think the personal level you can reach and work with individuals is really appealing... having a more significant role in someone's life, especially as they work towards their goals," Keesler said.
"She likes to listen…she was genuinely interested in talking to me. She trusts you, you trust her. That's just how it goes," Clearwater said.
Keesler encourages college students to establish routines to help them manage busy schedules.
"[College students] just have so much going on. There's limited room for self-care, limited space to work on themselves.
"I think a lot of students think they have to do everything on their own. I try to show them that they don't. When you have a support system I think it makes things more efficient in the long run," she said.
Keesler also advises students to be open about their concerns.
"I've noticed I'll have people be referred by other clients, which means that they're talking about it... which is huge. By word of mouth and experience, having that be an open conversation topic has helped a lot," Keesler said.
UW-Fox students often hear about the on-campus counseling services from professors and classmates.
"My friends referred me to her because I started drinking a lot more than I should," sophomore Brad Biwer said.
"I basically said 'I need help,' and she's really helped me relax. She's showed me ways to relax, even if it's just for 20 minutes a day."
One way Keesler helps her patients to relax is through meditation, which is also something she uses herself to combat stress.
"In my master's program I discovered mindfulness and meditation. I think that's incredibly helpful, and I actually use it a lot now in counseling." Keesler said.
Keesler and Bisbee invite students to call 832-2697 make an appointment or stop by their office in room 1309.
"It's right here in the hallway by all their classes... you're encouraged to come. Counseling is beneficial to anyone," Keesler said.
Clearwater and Biwer echo that sentiment.
"Even if it is something small, if your dog dies and you feel sad about it, go to therapy. Don't be afraid about being judged. Don't worry about what other people think," Clearwater said.
More information about counseling services at UW-Fox can be found at http://www.uwfox.uwc.edu/stlife/scs/.