Texas County Memorial Hospital has welcomed long-time area therapist to its staff.
Deborah Kell, a licensed professional counselor and marriage and family therapist for the past 21 years, has been in practice in Texas and Wright counties for 12 years. Before joining the staff at TCMH, she was employed by the St. John’s healthcare system, seeing patients from across the area at offices in Mountain Grove and Houston.
“I am really excited about working for a larger group of healthcare providers,” Kell said. “The hospital is being proactive in continuing to expand their services by bringing on a mental health professional.”
Wes Murray, chief executive officer at the hospital, noted that mental health services are in short supply in Texas County and throughout much of the Ozarks.
“When we had the opportunity to bring Deborah Kell under the umbrella of services available at TCMH, we jumped on it,” he said. “The services that Ms. Kell provides are very valuable to our community, medical staff and our own employees.
Kell agreed with members of the TCMH administration and medical staff that mental healthcare needs in the area are not being met.
“Mental health services are an essential part of healthcare in every community, and this is a very underserved area,” she said.
Important aspects of Kell’s professional practice are that anyone can make an appointment to meet with her. A physician referral is not required. Kell, through the hospital, accepts most forms of private insurance and Medicaid recipients up to the age of 21.
Kell became a counselor in 1986, pursuing an interest in people.
“I think it’s fascinating to see how each person handles their life and the things that are dealt to them in life,” Kell explained. “It’s an honor that patients entrust me with their personal experiences,” said Kell said, noting that she doesn’t take confidential information lightly. “I am very respectful of the confidences my patients share with me.”
Kell’s patients may see her weekly or once a month. Some patients only see her once or twice. A patient may see her regularly for a time period, stop seeing her and come back months or years down the road.
“I let the patient dictate when they come to see me,” Kell said. “A lot of people get stuck in a situation in life that they don’t know how to deal with. Since they aren’t trained in how to deal with particular issues, it’s my job to help them.”
Kell likens many patients’ experience prior to seeing her as being lost in a forest. In Kell’s one-hour counseling sessions, she gives advice, offers suggestions and even provides homework for her patients. If Kell is counseling a couple or parents and children, she will involve all of them in the counseling experience.
“The goal is always to get back on your feet and running along in life,” Kell said, adding that she just doesn’t want patients continually sitting in a therapist’s office. “I try to help my patients learn the skills they need to manage life and function on their own.”
Kell explained that a lot of her work is simply to function as a teacher for her patients.
Kell’s practice includes seeing patients of all ages from three to the end of life. Her counseling practice includes child behavioral problems, depression, anxiety and grief.
Prescribing medications are not a part of Kell’s practice, but she does work with the healthcare providers of some patients that have pain management, depression or other needs where prescriptions medications may help a patient.
As a marriage and family therapist, Kell is a mental health professional that tries to bring the family into perspective during counseling sessions.
“It’s my belief that problems don’t happen in a vacuum,” Kell explained. “I look at the big picture in working with my patients.”
In addition to private counseling sessions in her office, Kell has facilitated group meetings. Currently, she facilitates the Texas County Breast Cancer Support Group. With her new TCMH affiliation, Kell hopes to offer additional group sessions along with other services and options for area residents.
Kell resides in Texas County with her husband, and they have three adult children.
Currently, Kell is seeing patients at the TCMH Medical Complex on the hospital’s main campus in Houston. She sees patients by appointment only, and she’s currently accepting new patients.