Solutions Counseling has been making its presence felt in St. Michael for more than seven years, after Craig Rens got the business rolling here in 2008.
In the years since, Rens has established Solutions as a go-to resource for counseling services here, opening an office in the Zahler building on Central Avenue in St. Michael, and now making inroads with St. Michael-Albertville schools through collaborative services that area assisting teachers and students alike.
“I think if there’s something you can say has really taken off over the past couple of years, it’s that work within the schools. We have a great relationship with the school district staff and with administrators inside each building, and that’s really been a benefit to students who need services that we can provide,” Rens said.
With school district budgets getting tighter and tighter, collaboration from outside sources has been a valuable tool for both teachers and kids, said Dr. James Behle, superintendent of St. Michael-Albertville schools. Students who can use additional guidance and counseling are getting a care team, of sorts, as Solutions professionals work with support staff inside the school building.
Solutions also offers sessions with a special pooch named “Thor,” an American Bulldog who leads the center’s PAWS Program, which is animal assisted therapy for patients of all ages. Thor visits patients often, coming from his home in St. Cloud, and provides both staff and patients with a very special day each week, Rens said.
The biggest change facing kids? Cyber “stuff” is always a culprit. From apps on “smart” phones to social media such as Facebook, Twitter and more, peer pressure is coming from an entirely different place than it was eight years ago.
“That’s a totally new ball game for kids,” Rens said. “The thing is to work with kids and their decision making. Get involved. Let them know that what they put out there is out there, permanently.”
Solutions, with 16 therapists and three clinical trainees, is also working with military families from around the area, as well. The continued action in the Middle East has soldiers from around the area seeking professional help.
“You have to tailor your services to what the community needs,” Rens said, adding that Solutions is working closely with the STMA ‘Beyond the Yellow Ribbon’ campaign. Rens is also very involved in the Knights Academy ALP program and the United Way of Wright County. It’s all part of being a good neighbor.
“About 90 percent of the patients we see – and we’re making about 700 appointments per month now – are people from within this area. And so it’s up to us to be a good neighbor and do our business with respect and confidentiality for the people we serve,” Rens said.