Weather Forecast


Divine Hope Counseling expands services with new downtown location

Lori Hanson, left, and Jeanine Porter, counselors with Divine Hope Counseling, have recently added men-only groups and Spanish speaking services to their offerings. The women also have a new location for their business in downtown Willmar. (Tribune photo by Carolyn Lange)

WILLMAR -- Lori Hanson and Jeanine Porter like the colorful mural that's painted on the exterior of their new downtown Willmar location.

Not only is it a happy and uplifting visual, but the unique design and colors of the "healing rays of light" painting on the outside of the building is representative of the specialized counseling services the women provide inside the building to an increasing number of unique groups of people.

After opening Divine Hope Counseling nearly two years ago to provide dual diagnosis, non-residential chemical dependency treatment exclusively for women, the team of licensed drug and alcohol counselors developed a group just for elderly individuals struggling with addictions.

Last summer they added "men only" daytime counseling sessions that fit the schedules of those who "work the graveyard shift," said Hanson.

And in March they began offering counseling services in Spanish.

Hanson said Divine Hope Counseling is the only drug and alcohol counseling service in the area that offers a program in Spanish.

Until now, she said, Spanish-speaking clients who needed to undergo counseling, either at their own request or because of a court order, had to travel to the Twin Cities to receive services in their own language.

"There was a need for having a place that had Spanish-speaking services," said Hanson. She said several drug and alcohol counseling centers in the region provided Spanish counseling in the past, but that Divine Hope is the only one that currently provides the service.

When they heard there was a need in this area, they moved quickly to fill it.

"We needed to do this because the community needs this," Hanson said. "It's important to meet the needs of the community."

Neither Hanson nor Porter speaks Spanish, but they use a translator and supporting material written in Spanish to conduct the sessions.

They've both had required training in cultural sensitivity, but said some issues, like discussing spirituality as part of recovery, can get complicated in the translation.

Currently, Spanish-speaking clients are integrated into the English-speaking sessions, but Hanson said if the numbers increase then they will consider establishing exclusive groups just for Spanish speakers.

Conducting sessions with exclusive groups makes sense because people have different "deep-seated" life issues to work through as part of their recovery that can become more complicated in mixed-gender groups, said Porter.

For example, it can be difficult for women who have been abused by men to share their personal stories of addiction while sitting in a room with men.

There can also be "too much competition" for attention when men and women are together, said Hanson, adding that it can also be reaffirming for women to see other women struggling with the same issues.

"They find out they're not alone," said Porter.

She said men and women "just communicate differently" and using different treatment styles with gender-specific groups improves the recovery process.

"We're simply meeting the needs of people who need help, and meeting them where they need to be met," Hanson said.

That has even meant going to the Kandiyohi County Jail to pick up clients so that they can attend group sessions.

In November, Divine Hope moved to its new location at 328 Third St. S.W. near Rice Memorial Hospital in downtown Willmar, which also has improved accessibility for clients.

For more information contact Divine Hope Counseling at 320-231-9763 or at

Carolyn Lange

A reporter for more than 30 years, Carolyn Lange covers regional news with the West Central Tribune.

(320) 894-9750