Metro-East News

Behavioral counselor opens own practice in Shiloh

Biz Q&A: Behavioral health counselor opens Shiloh practice

Behavioral health counselor Amanda Benson discusses her new practice in Shiloh. Will Buss/News-Democrat
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Behavioral health counselor Amanda Benson discusses her new practice in Shiloh. Will Buss/News-Democrat

Learning about human behavior and trying to help those in need has driven Amanda Benson to find out more about herself and others. After a decade in practice, Benson started a private practice two weeks ago in Shiloh. She invited business writer Will Buss to her new office last week to discuss her services:

What specific services do you provide?

“I provide behavioral health counseling services to adolescents and adults. There are three other practitioners in the office. We are each our own entity. So for the services I provide, I am licensed as a clinical professional counselor in the state of Illinois and a professional counselor in the state of Missouri. I provide behavioral health counseling services, and those therapy services can really be for anybody struggling with a specific diagnosis maybe the doctor is treating them for, whether it is bipolar disorder or depression disorder or an adjustment or anxiety disorder, schizophrenia, substance abuse, to your daily life struggles like anger management, stress management, impulsivity, hyper-activity, social and personal struggles, personality disorder struggles, a wide variety of things.”

How long have you been practicing?

“I’ve been practicing for over 10 years. Most of my services have been out of the community mental health setting. I started providing therapy services to children and families out of the community mental health setting on an outpatient basis. And then, I went to working with adults on a kind of community outreach basis and providing therapy services in their homes, sometimes with their families and sometimes with just them. And that kind of evolved into becoming a supervisor of that community-based mental health program for adults. And that evolved into becoming a director of residential services for adults, which was my most recent position, and now I’m in private practice.”

How will operating a private practice differ from your past experiences?

“Just to be able to take more of a personal approach to providing therapy services that I feel that I am most qualified in and can help people the most with; you get a lot more independence in private practice and you’re able to have more flexibility with the services you want to provide.”

What initially drew you into this field?

“I’ve always been curious about different behaviors of people. How they learn, what they learn, what their schemas are, how they develop their schemas, why they communicate the way that they do. This has always been a curiosity of mine. And then I got into psychology as an undergrad, and then I started working the field and then went back and got my master’s degree in professional counseling. Then, I got myself licensed in two states just to have some flexibility, if I wanted to work in Missouri or if I wanted to work in Illinois. My treatment approach that I use is cognitive behavior therapy and dialectical behavior therapy. The philosophy of motivational interviewing is another I really use.”

What is that?

“So basically what that means is when I work with someone in a counseling setting, we look at three larger pieces and go from there. We look at what their thoughts are, why their thoughts are the way they are, how they learned them, how they perceive the world, how they perceive other people and why they perceive people that way. Evolving from that into here’s your thoughts, now how do your thoughts impact your behaviors? How do your thoughts drive you toward this? Are your behaviors and choices getting in the way? Are they barriers? Are they mild or active? Are they harmful? And then going from there to doing a lot of skill building. So it’s not just talk therapy; it’s not just processing; it’s also doing and learning skills in here so we can practice them together and maybe give homework assignments.”

What are the most common issues that your clients seek you for help?

“Mood dysregulation, personality disorders, impulsivity. So that can be depression and anxiety. I would say those are the most common ones. Also personal and social skills.”

What have you enjoyed most about your practice?

“Just to be able to be that person that somebody can come to and know that it’s a safe place and somebody will listen. They feel valued and just to know that you can make somebody feel valued and important, that feels good. You can make a positive impact on their life and help put them in a better direction.”

Contact reporter Will Buss at wbuss@bnd.com or 618-239-2526.

Name: Amanda Benson

Job: Licensed clinical professional counselor, Amanda Benson Counseling LLC, at 1161 Fortune Blvd., Suite 400, in Shiloh (618-830-8146)

Outlook: “I’ve always been curious about different behaviors of people...This has always been a curiosity of mine.”

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