“We are a community, and as a community we care for one another physically, mentally and spiritually,” said Ingrid DeVries. She joined the Union team in December 2021 as a mental health counselor and director of Campus Health. She is a Licensed Independent Mental Health Practitioner, and previously worked at Bryan Health here in Lincoln.
DeVries’ first experience with Union was in 2001, when she came to the college from Brazil to take a year of ESL classes. She then served as a student missionary for a year in Puerto Rico, before returning home. She said, “My memories of Union are of a place of friendly folks and spirituality. You cannot go wrong with those things. It was exciting to return again and so nice to be in this family-feeling environment.”
After earning a Bachelors of Science in business administration science from FMU University in Sao Paulo, Brazil, DeVries decided to change the trajectory of her career and pursue a graduate degree in counseling. She returned to Union to take the necessary prerequisite classes. DeVries graduated from Doane University in 2009 with a Master of Arts in counseling, and has been working in communities as a licensed mental health and addictions counselor since.
“I’m passionate about people in general, but especially youth and young adults,” said DeVries. “I love watching folks develop, grow and change. It is natural to me to help them see the potential they don’t see yet, support them and help them figure out life. Not that I know all the answers, but just being able to connect and talk and process with someone can really help.”
DeVries enjoys spending time with her family. She has been married to Nebraska native David for fifteen years, and they have two sons: 12-year-old Samuel and 9-year-old Ethan. The family has a shih tzu-dachshund mix named Fluffy.
“I love traveling and experiencing God’s nature, for example swimming with turtles in Hawaii and seeing the whales in the San Juan islands,” said DeVries. “I like zoos, but I prefer to see the real thing. With Covid now, of course there are limitations, but we try to be creative. My family has been exploring more of Nebraska lately. We have been visiting more state parks and lakes when we can. I also love gatherings. My family is small, so my friends are like my family. So when we can, with the Covid situation in mind, we try to gather and spend time together experiencing life.”
To DeVries, counseling is not about pinning labels on mental health conditions. Instead, it is about having conversations and processing life together. “God gave us a community to encourage each other, to immerse ourselves in in connection with others and to reach out. Nobody needs to be ‘crazy’ to talk to someone. Counseling is an opportunity to sit down and have somebody to talk to and to guide you through your ideas. The stigma has to go.
“The bottom line is this: reach out. Talk. We are a community, and we are here in this together. We don’t have to be alone in this world. Just talking to someone can be so helpful. Come and talk to me, let’s have a conversation.”
by Annika Cambigue