My name is Colleen Norwell and I am a Licensed Clinical Social Worker and therapist.
I have to admit, when I first wrote this ‘About Me’ it was a pretty bland extended resume, carefully worded to be warm, but aloof. Which makes absolutely no sense because that isn’t at all how I feel I am with my clients in the therapy room, or with my friends and family in the real world. I mean yes, I’m warm, but I’m a connector, not a cold, distant person. I think sometimes we can feel this pressure to only show the good things about ourselves; to only show our accomplishments and achievements. What I am really hoping you get from this page, beyond just my credentials and experiences, is a sense of who I truly am, and whether you think we would work well together. For those interested in the credentials and experience, I totally get wanting to know that stuff too, so there's more at the bottom of this page for you. I hope that I can lead by example and encourage you to bring not just your strengths and positivity qualities to the therapy room (even though those are important and I want to know that part of you too!), but to also bring your authentic and vulnerable self, all the good and all the not so good that's going on.
What you’re probably wondering is why I enjoy working with people experiencing depression, anxiety, people managing relationships troubles, family conflict, or a history of trauma. I love working with these clients and these struggles because I get it. I’ve been there. Not down every road of course, maybe not down your exact road; but I know what it’s like to be teased and bullied, to feel the loneliness and despair of depression, the whirlwind and paralyzing effects of anxiety. I know what it’s like to pull away from loved ones, to cry more than you don’t, to feel the weight of being completely overwhelmed, to lack motivation, and to feel like everything is just too hard. I get it on a level I couldn’t if I hadn’t lived it myself. I know those pitfalls of despair and I have my own road maps for how to get out. I think it is important you know your roadmap will be different from mine, and different from the next person's; we all have our own unique roads to travel, but I want you to know I have found my way out, and I believe you can too. I know you can. Together we can create the road map you need to get where you want to be.
Because I have been there too, I can tell you that this is going to take some work. I find I work best with people who have had enough of feeling bad, struggling to reign in their emotions, struggling to get out of bed in the morning, so much so that they're willing to start doing things differently. Unfortunately it isn't magic, and I can't change things for you, only you can do that. But the good news is that I've got a lot of ideas about how we can do this together.
I'm not a smile and nod therapist. I am willing to get in there with you, roll up my sleeves and get dirty. I can often be found on the ground of my office with my younger clients playing games and creating artwork. I have a pretty keen BS detector and I'm going to call you on your stuff. We'll laugh (a lot). I'm not afraid to talk about anything- Drugs? Money? Constipation? Diarrhea? Your intimate life? I promise- I've seen or heard just about all of it. And look, we're human beings. Our problems don't happen in a vacuum, and I think it's important that we look at the whole health of the person. How well are you taking care of yourself in a physical way? In a fiscal way? In a spiritual way? In a social way? It matters, and I've got ideas for that stuff too if you're feeling stuck.
I think why I like working with the clients that I do, who have the struggles that they do, is because they tend to be sensitive, kind, caring, intelligent, strong and resilient individuals. They're the kind of people I love getting to know. They're the kind of people I look forward to seeing every week. Whether they are 3rd graders or someone in their mid-30's I find there is always something I am connecting and relating to in my clients.
Life doesn't have to feel bad. Negative thoughts and feelings don't have to run your day. I'm here to help.
Research tells us that the most important thing about successful therapy is the relationship between the therapist and client. That's why my approach to therapy is focused on creating a warm, inviting, trusting and safe space for my clients. This means taking things at a pace you're comfortable with, including relatable stories from my own experiences, and making a little time for fun and humor too.
Often kids and teens might resist going to therapy, and I get that. Who would want to be at therapy when you could be hanging out with your friends or playing video games? My goal is to find common ground with each young person, to show them why or how what we talk about can be useful to them, and to make sure they get a few tools under their belt to pull out in times of need. And there's always a little time for games too.
In terms of strategies and tools I like to incorporate parts of Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT), Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) and Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR), as well as Mindfulness, Motivational Interviewing and Harm Reduction into my sessions. While I believe most of our current struggles result from things that have gone unresolved from our past, and that is important to explore for healing, I also believe that we can benefit from getting some strategies for relief in the moment now. This might mean identifying unhelpful thought patters, learning breathing techniques, self soothing strategies or creating behavioral charts.
One of my goals is to always make sure you know what we are doing and why. I love to explain how things work in the body and how all our systems are connected. When you leave my office I want to make sure you have the information you need to feel empowered to face your struggles and have tools you can implement on your own.
who i work with
I work with children ages 6+, adolescents, adults, couples and families. While I am open to, and have experience working with a variety of issues, I have special interest in working with adoption, anxiety, depression, trauma, relationship issues, divorce, behavioral issues, self esteem issues and general life or job transitions/stressors.
Credentials & Experiences
Bachelor of Arts in Human Services - Saint Mary's University of Minnesota
Master of Social Work (MSW) - University of Illinois at Chicago
Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW)
Throughout my career I have worked in a variety of settings including:
- Residential program for delinquent youth
- Supervised visitation
- Intensive probation for youth
- Residential program for adults with severe and persistent mental illness
- Maternity and Adoption
- Community Mental Health
- Residential program for foster care youth with severe and persistent mental illness
- Housing and supportive services for veterans experiencing homelessness
- Private Practice