New Therapy Services To Be Offered At MCMC
Tara Schaefer-Nygaard is now offering mental health therapy services at the Mountrail County Health Center once a week. Originally from Minot, she has a Master of Social Work and is a licensed clinical social worker. She received her Bachelors in Social Work from Minot State University in 2002 and her masters from Northwest Nazarene University in Nampa, Idaho in 2012.
She says that being a helper is a family thing. She grew up in a large family and her parents always described her as a helper. She began her career in social work working with children and families and says that she knew that she could do more than just casework. She worked in various ways with social work including foster care case management, the home and community based services program, as well as the foster to adoptions programs and infant development.
It was while she was working with infant development that it struck her that she was capable of doing more and needed to do that. Another factor was when they returned to Minot and she had the opportunity to work at the Dakota Boys and Girls Ranch. That, she says, was eye opening.
While there she realized that it was important to be equipped for expanding knowledge, tackling different behavior issues, and fine tuning the skills. As a clinical team member, it sparked her to learn more. She then moved on to working at the Minot Air Force Base.
It was during this time that she became certified in Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) therapy. This is an evidence based trauma therapy that helps clients work through not only trauma, but also depression, anxiety, and other disorders.
She describes it as an amazing process to experience with a person. It is transformational for them to come through to the other side of a trauma and those symptoms to not have that power over them any longer. There is, she says, a resonance that will happen when they sense where it is held, blocked or stored, and then see the relief and physical change in the person. It is very powerful, she also says it almost feels selfish to feel rewarded after being a part of this and see them take control over the things that have controlled them.
The decision to go into private practice, she says, came when she decided it was time to be her own boss, choosing to set her own guidelines on how she wanted to work. That transition came in mid-October of last year. She opened New Hope Counseling in November of 2018, seeing a limited number of patients per week, but decided to make the change to full-time.
She says that she recognized the limited number of professionals available and that it was even more challenging and difficult for clients in rural communities. She says that she was able to make the choice to expand to a rural outreach clinic. She reached out to Mountrail County Health Center in Stanley and the process began. Her first day in Stanley was Wednesday, Feb. 1.
She chose Wednesdays as her one day per week because there are fewer holidays in the middle of the week. That means less need to reschedule appointments for clients. The other four days of the week are spent at her office in Minot.
Patients are able to self-refer to her clinic. They can also be referred by their primary care physician, a school, law enforcement or a social worker. Most insurance companies will cover therapy, depending on the patient’s coverage plan.
As therapy becomes more accepted, she says her goal is to help patients focus on their internal resiliency, helping them to build the skills to get through their challenges and difficult times. That includes helping them learn how to help themselves, sit with the discomfort knowing that when it resolves they will be okay so they can move through to the other side.
While she can work with younger children depending on the circumstances, she prefers to work with patients ages ten and up. The majority of her experience is with children ages ten and up, adults and family therapy.
Her love for what she does is apparent, saying that therapists need to love what they do. There can be challenging cases and difficult things to hear, but the best part is seeing patients heal and be part of that journey. She says that it is an honor to walk alongside them and earn that trust. The biggest honor, she says, is to have that trust.
Tara has also just been notified that she has been nominated to be a member of the Western Area Health Education Advisory Board. That board works with area colleges to get North Dakota residents back and into rural areas. She says it is another way she can impact bringing more providers to rural communities.
Tara’s husband, Kurt, is an oil gauger at Kinder-Morgan and a retired Army veteran. Between them, they have five children that all live in North Dakota and they are expecting their first grandchild in July. Kurt is originally from the Watford City area and they met after he retired from the Army and returned to North Dakota.
In their free time, they enjoy camping. They also enjoy spending time with family. Family time is a primary focus for them.
“This has been almost a decade in the making,” says Steph Everett, CEO of the Mountrail County Medical Center. “Janel and I have been working every angle to find mental health providers for our clinic. It’s a true blessing we can bring Tara in once a week. And there is more to come with this Specialist line in the near future for MCMC!” You can schedule appointments with Tara Schaefer-Nygaard by contacting Mountrail County Health Center at 628-2505.