Private counseling center opens in downtown Monticello


Last week, licensed psychologist Lauren Welter opened her counseling service, Prairie Home Wellness and Counseling in Monticello. After three years on Wall Street in NYC, Welter felt compelled to pursue a career in psychology. She trained for year at the VA in Iowa City, and previously worked at Medical Associates in Dubuque. (Photos by Kim Brooks)

Prairie Home Wellness and Counseling is located on W. First Street in downtown Monticello. Dr. Lauren Welter counsels people or all ages. She hopes to dispel the stigma associated with mental health and counseling.
By: 
Kim Brooks
Express Editor

     Working on Wall Street for three years in New York City gave Lauren Welter a whole new outlook on life. So much so that the Iowa born and bred woman she did a 180 and completely changed careers.

     Welter, who’s originally from Iowa City but now resides in rural Monticello with her husband and young children, just opened her own business in downtown Monticello: Prairie Home Wellness and Counseling.

     As a licensed psychologist, Dr. Welter designed her outpatient counseling services “to help you overcome life’s struggles, transitions, trauma, and mental health problems in order to live life as meaningfully and fully as possible.

     She “strives to help you achieve personal, psychological, spiritual and relational growth and to achieve overall positive changes in your life.”

     Welter earned a bachelor’s degree in business and finance from the University of North Carolina.

     From there, she ventured off to NYC.

     “I worked crazy hours and realized that was not the kind of work I wanted to do for the rest of my life,” said Welter. “Wall Street is a different world from Iowa.”

     She said the city-life experience helped her to really think about her own life and values.

     “You could say I had a quarter-life crisis,” joked Welter.

     So, she moved back home to Iowa and pursued her passion for mental health and wellness.

     “I ultimately decided to leave my career and the big city in search of a more personally meaningful life,” shared Welter. “I was really glad for the experience, but it was not for me.”

     Welter said she was always interested in psychology, but wasn’t ready at the time to pursue the career.

     After coming back to Iowa, she attended the University of Iowa for a year for undergraduate courses. She then worked hard for six years to earn a PhD in Counseling Psychology. A big chunk of that time was spent in clinical training and doing a lot of research.

     Welter’s first job was at the VA Hospital in Iowa City, working with veterans, talking with them about their military experiences, combat and sexual trauma, and other mental health problems or life struggles.

     She then worked at the Medical Associates Clinic in Dubuque for over a year until giving birth to her daughter at the beginning of 2018 and opening her own practice earlier this month.

     “That experience really set the tone for my own space,” she said.

     Welter said with two young kids at home now and her husband farming, life was just getting busy and she wanted to work closer to home.

     “I was gone all the time and my job lacked flexibility.”

     Welter is hopeful that starting her own counseling service is a win-win for her and her family and the community as a whole.

     “As far as I know, there are no other psychologists between Cedar Rapids in Dubuque; I am excited to offer special care locally,” she said. “There’s a need for mental health care.” Welter offered that the State of Iowa ranks quite low among the 50 states when it comes to mental health access.

     She said there can be a negative stigma placed on those who seek counseling services, something Welter hopes to dispel.

     “We all go through life’s ups and downs in life. My work is about improving health and wellbeing

     “It’s normal struggle in life, and we need to support each other during difficult times.

     “You don’t have to be ‘crazy,’ as sometimes portrayed in the media, to come and seek counseling,” added Welter.

     She said the sooner people seek professional help, no matter the circumstance, the better in the long run.

     “You don’t want those problems to build,” said Welter. “I’m here to help people heal faster.”

     Welter specializes in the areas of trauma, grief and loss, relationship/family problems, and depression and anxiety.

     “I meet one-on-one with my patients to set goals and work toward those goals so they start to feel better,” explained Welter. She wanted to make it clear that as a psychologist, she does not prescribe medications. “I want to serve others, and help make their lives better.”

     Welter said she always saw herself running her own practice one day. “I wanted to create a place for healing and wellness.”

     Prairie Home Wellness and Counseling is located at 218 W. First St. in Monticello, across from First Presbyterian Church in the new commercial building.

     Welter said, especially important in a small community, it is critical for patients to know that all services are confidential, “as they are for any medical provider.”

     Welter and her husband, Dan, have a 2-year-old son and a 2-month-old daughter.

     “We want to become invested in the community and get involved,” Welter said.

     To contact Welter about her counseling services or to inquire about an appointment, call 319-975-8705. You can also visit her website at www.prairiehomewellness.com.

     The commercial building at 218 W. First St. is also the new home for Back Home Chiropractic, owned by Dr. Nancy Jesenovec.

 

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