Counseling practice celebrates two years in Helena

By LAURA BROOKHART / Community Columnist

About two years ago, shockwaves went through the state of Alabama when Alabama Psychiatric Services announced they would be closing their doors in less than two weeks, leaving about 28,000 patients around the state and about 300 employees wondering what to do next.

When Jackie DeVine, a Licensed Professional Counselor at APS, heard the news, she was in disbelief—she loved her job at APS and had intended to stay there until retirement. With just a few days to decide what to do if she wanted to keep her clients, she decided to open a private practice in Helena.

Jackie DeVine, a licensed professional counselor, opened a private practice in Helena in March 2015. (Contributed)

“When I told people I was moving to Helena, they thought I was crazy,” Jackie recounted. “I talked to several Christian counseling agencies, and was about to go that route, when in the middle of the night I suddenly woke up with great clarity, knowing I needed to open my business in Helena.”

After she made the decision to open a practice in Helena, she spent the next week interviewing other therapists who were in private practice and sought some experienced advice.

She opened for business on March 2, 2015—two weeks after APS closed.

“From day one, I’ve had a full practice, and after two years of a very busy practice, I have yet to even put up a sign!”

At first, the clients followed her from APS.

“But that first week, I started getting calls from new clients, who mostly came from this part of Shelby County,” she said.

In the past two years in Helena, she has conducted well over 2,000 counseling sessions and continues to gain new clients every week.

“I learned to do everything for myself. I answer my own phone calls, maintain HIPAA compliance, do all my own electronic insurance billing and utilize an electronic system that sends my clients reminder messengers and allows them to schedule appointments online at their convenience,” she said.

Most of her clientele uses health insurance or Employee Assistance Programs to pay for their treatment, but she accepts some private pay clients.

Jackie enjoys working in Helena and finds it to be a great place to do business.

“The people are friendly, the city is safe and beautiful, and it’s easy to get so much done on my lunch hour,” she said. “It seems like Helena has just about everything I need and it is much less stressful working here than working closer to Birmingham.”

Jackie sees clients ranging from older teens up to senior citizens, male and female. She is a Licensed Professional Counselor and a National Certified Counselor, and holds a master’s in Counseling as well as a Master of Divinity. She helps people with anxiety, depression, trauma, relationship issues, stress, transitions, among many other issues.

“I only see people with issues I am trained to treat—if I don’t feel I can help a person, I refer them to a colleague who specializes in their need. For children and adolescents, I refer to other therapists here in Helena or Riverchase,” she said.

Jackie has recently joined the Helena Business Association. Her website is Jdevinetherapist.com.