Community Counseling Associates Provide Hope During Struggles
Community Counseling Associates (Lovejoy Counseling Associates) opened at 2730 Country Club Rd., Ste G-2 in Lucas a year ago. Michelle Nietert, M.A., L.P.C.-S, is the clinical director of this location and the location in Allen (1506 N. Greenville Ave.). Nietert explained why they opened the Lucas location, “It was to meet the needs of the Lucas, Fairview and Wylie area. I’m very involved at Lucas Christian Academy since my daughter returned there this year. We are big believers in the community. Wherever we are, we’re going to invest in the community.”
After being a teacher, she decided to pursue her master’s degree in professional counseling. She said, “I realized how much their social and emotional needs affected their learning. For me, it’s also a spiritual calling. I feel very called to share a spiritual foundation with students. This is a way to combine my interest in faith and my interest in helping people.” She attended Dallas Seminary, Criswell Academy and Trinity Academy and earned her Licensed Professional Counselor master’s degree at Amber University in 1999. The ‘S’ in her accreditation, ‘L.P.C.-S’ stands for ‘Supervisor’. This gives her the ability to train other counselors. Niertert said, “There have been people who have invested in me professionally. I want to pay that forward. This is a way to invest in the profession.”
At Community Counseling Associates, they offer adult, couples, child (play therapy), adolescent and family therapy. The largest percentage (approximately 40%) of their clients are adolescents and children. Nietert provides insight, “One thing that is unique with our staff is that everyone must be willing to work with adolescents. People who work with adolescents are into continuous development because that culture changes. People who do this have a passion for meeting that kid where they are and joining with them. Asking them, ‘How could we make your life better? What do you want to change?’” She explained that their counselors, who work with couples, must have additional training beyond their master’s degree. The counselor will have a plan to decrease the negativity in the marriage and increase the positivity. It will be determined if a couple is ready for marriage counseling or if they should start with individual counseling.
While being a counselor for 20 years, she is still surprised by the amount of pain there is in the world. She said, “Coming into this profession as a 25-year-old, from a pretty happy home, and seeing the brokenness that comes from out of nowhere and how ill-equipped all of us are to manage that has tremendously impacted my life. I believe there is hope at the end of it all.”
When a client works with her and creates change in their life, she feels successful. Breaking into a heart-felt laugh, she said, “We get to celebrate that at the end. It’s awesome, it’s the best thing ever. I walk beside the person in pain and tell them it’s not always going to be like this. I tell them, ‘I’ve walked by hundreds of people with this pain, they made it out, you will make it out.’ Seeing them do it is amazing.” She has worked with teens who are struggling with anxiety and have turned to drugs to cope. She helps them manage their anxiety to the point where they no longer want to use the drugs. She guides struggling couples in the way they approach each other and helps them find ways to invest in their marriage. They come out on the other end and say, “You saved our marriage. Thank you.”
Nietert believes clients are surprised that what they see portrayed on television regarding counselors is not what they will experience at Community Counseling Associates. “Counseling looks very formal on TV and counselors write prescriptions. In the state of Texas, we can’t write prescriptions so that surprises some people. They will also be surprised that not only does the therapist care, but they have real tools that they can offer to help them. The day we don’t, is the day we are closing our doors.”
People’s struggles have remained the same throughout the years Niertert has been a counselor, “They struggle with not feeling like they measure up. Feeling rejected. Feeling like God has abandoned them.” While these struggles have been constant, Nietert said, “The symptomology has gotten worse. The fact that kids are taking their lives before they make it to adulthood has increased tremendously and to me, that is devastating. We, as a culture, must scream to our kids in the most loving way, that there is nothing you are going to face that we can’t get you through. There is hope at the other end of this.”
She realized a need to reach beyond her office walls and besides being a counselor (she sees 15 clients each week) and clinical director, she is a popular speaker, podcaster, author and a mental health consultant. She is contracted to co-author a book which has a working title of ‘Loved and Treasured’. She is also pitching a book about how to introduce mental health topics to your children before middle school.
There are 16 counselors on staff at Community Counseling Associates. They accept insurance. Call 214-509-6888 for an appointment. Office hours include evenings and weekends. To learn more about Community Counseling Associates, visit communitycounselingassociates.com.