Getting to know: Kristen Hammel, Rosecrance Central Illinois mental health services director

Whether she’s counseling youth in the criminal justice system, leading a team, or caring for horses, new Rosecrance Central Illinois mental health services director Kristen Hammel can’t help but connect with others around her. That gift has enabled her to positively impact lives wherever she has served.

“People have told me I have the natural ability to be authentic and genuine, which puts them at ease with me,” Hammel said. “I’ve been able to build rapport with clients who didn’t want to be in counseling, and that has

allowed me to see the miracle of recovery countless times.”

As she settles into her role in Central Illinois, Hammel sees fresh opportunities to add connections for people in treatment. She hopes to explore group therapy for mental health clients, which would enable clients with anxiety to feel less alone, and she would like to add intensive outpatient (IOP) for adolescents with mental health disorders. In addition, she wants to incorporate equine therapy into programming.

These additions would round out a robust palette of holistic mental health treatment options available through Rosecrance Central Illinois’ continuum of care. In addition to outpatient therapy settings, Rosecrance also offers group homes, which Hammel sees as one of the organization’s biggest assets in the region.

“I enjoy promoting and developing our group homes because the staff is so compassionate and they want to help people manage their mental health issues,” Hammel said. “With the connections we can make through so many different treatment modalities, I want people to know that any change is possible.”

One of Hammel’s favorite bonding points is through horses. The proud owner of two horses, her professional background includes certification in trauma-focused equine assisted psychotherapy (TF-EAP).

“Recreation therapies can be powerful treatment modalities because they help clients connect with themselves and others,” she said. “I always enjoy the ‘aha’ moments when they try a new therapy mode and learn something new about themselves.”