Jo Thyr has been transitioning into behavioral health counseling at Promise Community Health Center in Sioux Center after serving as a medical social worker for most of her career.
She sees it as a natural progression.
It’s also a natural progression for Promise as the health center moves from providing part-time behavioral health/mental health services on a contractractual basis with partner organizations to having its own full-time behavioral health therapist on staff. In doing so, Promise also will expand into offering substance abuse services as Thyr becomes certified in that area – with a particular focus of addressing people’s addiction to opioids, which are drugs used to reduce pain.
Thyr started seeing patients full time at Promise in mid-June.
“I hope to bring a positive, refreshing perspective about behavioral health to Promise,” she said. “It takes courage to share life’s struggles with a therapist. I want to help break down the barriers or possible uncomfortable feelings about sharing. I want to provide a safe, welcoming area for those to share in a confidential setting. I desire to build bridges for others to be healthier in all aspects of their lives.”
Thyr grew up on a farm near Gowrie in central Iowa and graduated from high school there. She then went on to Northwestern College in Orange City, where she earned a bachelor’s degree in social work in 1982.
She served as a social worker for about 30 years for various medical services, including Covenant Medical Center in Waterloo; Villa Health Care Center in Mora, Minnesota; Greater Sioux County Hospice in Sioux Center; and, most recently for 20 years, at Orange City Area Health System. For the past school year, she served as an assistant professor of social work at Northwestern College. She earned her licensed master of social work degree from the University of Iowa in May 2017.
After serving a limited, part-time basis for a few months at Promise while transitioning into the role, she now is seeing patients full time. She is assisted by new behavioral health coordinator and interpreter, Michelle van Beek.
“I understand the connection between the physical and emotional aspects of someone’s life,” Thyr said. “A new medical diagnosis or adjustments with medical situations can affect someone emotionally. At times, anxiety and depression can develop. I believe I will still be teaching Promise patients, such as in the case of developing more positive coping skills.”
She finds it highly rewarding “to observe someone taking back control over their emotional lives.”
“Overall, people are resilient and have strengths they may not notice in themselves,” she said. “I am honored to walk alongside those who find themselves in a difficult spot in their lives.”
Thyr appreciates how primary care and behavioral health care are integrated at Promise.
“Promise is already helping our area to become healthier in order to grow,” Thyr said. “I believe the addition of full-time behavioral health services will also help this area to grow emotionally healthier. We human beings come with our bodies, as well as our minds. These two aspects are very intricately connected.”
Thyr and her husband, Kevin, live in Orange City. They have five children and six grandchildren who live in places all across the country.
BEHAVIORAL HEALTH HOURS:
Jo Thyr will see patients for behavioral health/mental health care during the following hours at Promise Community Health Center in Sioux Center: 8 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday and 9 a.m.-7 p.m. Thursday.