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Welcome and thank you for choosing ABILITIES FIRST Counseling & Empowerment Services.  I'm committed to providing a safe, supportive and confidential space in which to openly explore.  My approach assumes the dignity and resilience of every individual.   I specialize in services for individuals with developmental disabilities and chronic conditions as well as support for the needs of their families, allies and caregivers in the Chippewa Valley and surrounding communities.  Tele-Health Services are available statewide.  

Mental health influences overall well-being and is an essential aspect in defining a quality of life.  The risk of developing mental illness is no less for individuals with disabilities, but often people within this community are not given the same access to services as their "non disabled" peers. There can be many things that increase the risk of developing a problem with mental health.  These circumstances do not necessarily cause mental illness, but increase the vulnerability.  Factors may include:  poor social support, trauma, low expectations for success, chronic pain or limitation, family history and/or high levels of stress.  Benefits of counseling are numerous:  reduced stress in daily living, higher social engagement and personal awareness of strengths and challenges, improved self-esteem and confidence, improved decision-making, more effective communication with others.  In turn, self-defeating behaviors and emotional outbursts are reduced.  

With my own personal experience and understanding of the disability experience, I discovered the value of self-advocacy and desire to help others to become more empowered.  I will encourage you look beyond what you perceive are your limitations and challenge you to look deeply into what you believe stops you from moving forward. I hope to inspire your change through honesty with compassion, self-acceptance and humor.  I am happy to consult with you and I'm looking forward to working with you and your family.

Jessica Kleist, MS. Ed., LPC, NCC
Professional Counselor

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