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CHASE BOTTORF / THE EXPRESS Pictured, from left, Kelly Eichenlaub, Ashley Hershberger and Hannah Freeman pose in front of the reception area of ​​their shared private practice space along Central Avenue in Avis.

AVIS – Three new mental health practitioners have goals of increasing wellness in Clinton County.

Ashley Hershberger, Kelly Eichenlaub and Hannah Freeman are collectively running their own private practices at 302 W. Central Drive in Avis, formerly Solutions and Resolutions Counseling. Together, they are trying to bring in as many clients as possible with the lack of mental health professionals in the county.

The building and practice was previously operated by Jennifer Schickling, a clinical social counselor who was a mentor for the three women. She ran her practice starting in 2014 and up until her passing in October of 2021.

Hershberger ended up Purchasing the building from Schickling’s family to start her own private practice. With having a personal history with Schickling, starting her practice there was that much more important to her. Also having built relationships with Eichenlaub and Freeman through their studies, it gave the three Hopeful practitioners an outlet to help new possible clients with an array of backgrounds.

“I had to do an internship – I did my practicum with Jennifer, then I did the other part of it with Hannah who worked in a school based program at that time. I continued to work with Jen after that and then she helped me form my own practice, ” Hershberger said.

When Hershberger was working on her Master’s, Eichenlaub and Freeman were all studying at Lock Haven University. She and Eichenlaub were studying in the same program together, she said.

“It is a unique interaction for all of us because we all knew Jen. I would say she was the Guiding inspiration for me to start a practice, ” Hershberger said.

The shared practice space is located on the left side of the building with a huge other portion which is being renovated. Eventually, Hershberger hopes to turn that portion into commercial space for any form of wellness or mental health opportunities. They would all be separate businesses, she said. However, before any of that can be done, they need to go through approval in order to convert the space into a commercial area.

Hershberger has been practicing for about a year and a half while Eichenlaub and Freeman are just starting out with their own private practices alongside her.

“We are all separate practices which is cool for the community because it encourages small businesses,” Hershberger said. “I like to use a variety with my practice, rec therapy and some of the approaches to meet the needs of clients, especially with some of the kiddos that I see.”

Hershberger has her Bachelor’s degree in Recreational Therapy from LHU and received her Masters in Clinical and Mental Health Counseling. She is currently studying for her PhD in Counselor Supervision.

Freeman received her Bachelors of Science in Social Work from LHU in 2008, and then pursued her Masters in Social Work from Marywood University in 2013. She is currently a Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW) and is certified as a travel care practitioner. She also has extra training in trauma specific Healing and ways to process it. So far, Freeman is working part-time with children through adults, alongside Hershberger and Eichenlaub, but has hopes to go full-time in the next few months when more clients roll in.

Eichenlaub received her Bachelor’s degree from LHU in Elementary Education with a minor in Psychology. She then went back for her Masters in Clinical Mental Health Counseling. She also completed an internship with Schickling alongside Hershberger and then did an internship at Pennsylvania College of Technology in their counseling center. She then worked in outpatient at two different community agencies.

Hershberger currently has a case load of clients. Both Eichenlaub and Freeman are working on building their client list right now and have openings. They are working on paneling with insurance companies such as Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield, but all self-paid clients are currently welcome, they said.

They are also open for supervision, so anybody looking to get their LCSWs, Hershberger can supervise them and help them earn their Licensed Clinical Psychologist certifications (LCP). The private practice is also looking to offer condensed style internship opportunities later on down the road, depending on the counselors’ case load, they added.

Generally, the three’s schedules run from 7:30 am to 5 pm or 6 pm depending on clients, Monday through Friday. Hershberger said she does not typically work on Saturdays but if there is a high need for a client, she is open for an appointment.

“We try to be as open as possible and work with our clients as far as what works for them. Sometimes that looks like an 8 am to 4 pm day, sometimes it looks like a 10 am to 6 pm or a 10 am to 8 pm day, ” Eichenlaub said. “Even though you’re outpatient, we can be flexible to work alongside clients.”

Statistically, in rural settings with the limitations of providers, there are also limitations of a variety of things for the appropriate childcare, healthcare for families which then in-turn, encourage the need for mental health services because we just don’t have enough in the area, Hershberger said.

Between the three, they try to designate clients that would be the best fit for each of them and, if not, reach out to other providers that would necessarily be a better fit for them.

Each of the private practices offers telehealth for clients not geographically close or who cannot drive in for a meeting, and each of them do marital and couple therapy, as well as family counseling.

“Overall, our goal is to increase wellness in the area. To increase mental health and to be a support for our community, ” Hershberger said.

To set up an appointment with Freeman call / text her at 570-995-1416 or email her at freemancounselingservices.com. To set up an appointment with Eichenlaub call / text her at 814-954-1711.

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