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Gateways Counseling Services Now Open in Neillsville
Tuesday, September 10th, 2019 -- 3:27 pm
Posted by Riley Hebert-News Director


-Gateways Counseling Services and Gateways Day Treatment Centers has opened its doors to the public at their new location here in Neillsville.

Gateways Counseling offers a wide variety of services including substance abuse services, behavioral health services, group therapies and more. I spoke with Michelle Messick, the Administrative Director, and Aaron Mielke, a counselor, about the center. Michelle explained what brought Gateways to Neillsville.

“Well, for a couple years while I’ve had the Marshfield Centers, I’ve been receiving patients from Neillsville. The Neillsville Community Services and Neillsville Department of Human Services had been sending children because I ran a very unique youth and adolescent AODA program. There’s not really another one around that ran. And it was a short distance. And, of course, out of Clark County, some of them lived in Chili and some even went to Marshfield Schools.”

“They kept saying to me, ‘can you get to Neillsville? You need to get Neillsville. We need you up in Neillsville. Neillsville has nothing. Can you get to Neillsville?’ So, I actually even went and bought land to build a house nearby here knowing that Neillsville would be my next step. Expanding to rural areas has been my plan the whole time. Areas where there isn’t service being provided.”

“Certainly youth and adolescent is a huge focus on mine. And I feel like if we can target these youth and adolescent, we can actually prevent some of this incarceration and this later resulting higher levels of trauma and problems occurring. Here there’s a large population and there’s not a whole lot for kids to do in Neillsville. So, finding trouble is easy. And getting here and trying to prevent filling the Clark County and other jails later on was a pretty big thing for me.”

Even though a big focus being put on Gateways now is AODA and narcotics, they have many other available services as well.

“The big focus that’s being put on us right now is the narcotic treatment and the AODA, when in actuality we have a high level of mental health services as well. Social work services, safe exchange programs, reunification counseling for children, children play therapy as young as three years old. I know that it’s exciting that a narcotic treatment program came to town and it’s exciting that an alcohol center came to town, but, as well, we have some high level childhood trauma certified counselors that are here.”

Michelle said they do things a little different at Gateways.

“Gateways runs in a little different way. At our Marshfield Center, there’s a sign right in our lobby that says ‘Flip-flops make life more fun.’ While I require all of my clinicians dress in a professional manner because we are a professional facility, we try to have fun. Talk therapy can seem really intimidating. If you’re ordered to come here by the courts or by a social worker, it can seem like you’re being interrogated and it’s intimidating and it’s aggressive.”

“So, we actually have a room where we have cribbage, checkers, chess, connect four, battleship. And we’ll play those with ages 3 to veterans. Because there is psychological knowledge out there that shows that if we’re doing that kind of interaction while we’re doing counseling, we’re actually making more progress. The subliminal walls drop and you’ll have more honesty and exchange with counseling session in that manner.”

Michelle and Aaron both stressed that you don’t have to be court ordered to go and see them.

“You don’t have to be court ordered to come here. There’s this stigma out there that we don’t want people to know that we go to counseling or that people will think less of us if they know we go to counseling. Bill Gates publicizes that he goes to regular counseling. Every single person could benefit from going to counseling. You don’t need to have a problem, have trauma, something wrong. The theory that I use is that there’s a trash can in your head and it only has a certain capacity. And you can be the person that just lets things roll off you, but they don’t really roll off. They roll into that can and when that can reaches full, it can take the smallest thing to cause and explosion. Going to a counselor you get to empty that can. There’s going to be thoughts in there that aren’t rational, that don’t really make sense and they’re not something that you’re going to do. But to get them out. Just to get them out. To have a safe place to get them out.”

Michelle said they work for the betterment of the individual, no matter what service that may require.

“Gateways holds every license service that a community service agency can hold for an independent agency, mental health, AODA and narcotic treatment. And if there’s ever any programs that we don’t currently offer or have that some community portion is looking for, we will get them, we will do them. We accept every single insurance type out there and if we are not currently in network with it, we will become in network with it. We are in network with over 1,000 insurance companies. So, we don’t turn any body away. If someone comes to our door that doesn’t have insurance at all, we will spend a session going on access.org and we will help them apply for Badgercare. We will help them apply for marketplace insurance. All of that is in the interest in the betterment of that person. And that’s our goal.”

Aaron also stressed the importance of treating, not just the person, but the family as well.

“Not only do we treat the person, but we treat the family. Mental health and addiction doesn’t affect just the individual. It affects their family members, their loved ones. People that really care about them. And usually there’s damage done to that relationship. So, we want to treat the family as a whole, not just the individual, which is an amazing, amazing thing. If we treat the person and send them right back into the situation that they were in, their problems aren’t going to get any better. So, then you end up in that revolving door of people going into jail, people with reoccurring mental health, AODA. So, if we can treat the family and the loved ones as well as the individual, that is one of the biggest things that we try and do.”

Aaron talked about some of the work they did on the building.

“We have had to, in a sense, gut the whole building. We put fresh paint on things, new carpeting, the plumbing and making the facility more private for the individual. We believe in confidentiality. Clients confidentiality is number one for us. Everybody is entitled to a private life and an issue or two. Or a struggle would be a better word. We’re all struggling someplace. We have set up this facility in particular, and in Marshfield, we have group rooms for group treatment. For group education. I myself facilitate domestic violence, anger management, drug and alcohol education, day treatment runs 3-days a week. Individual counseling rooms as well as group rooms.”

After the building was identified, Gateways opened their doors just 17 days later, with the staff doing the work themselves. Michelle said you can learn more about Gateways online.

“To learn more about us, our website is fantastic, gatewayscounseling.net. And to reach us, they can reach us at any of our offices at 715-898-1665.”

Gateways Counseling held a ribbon cutting ceremony and tours on Tuesday.

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