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LP gets new mental health clinic

June 30, 2008

By Ivan Raconteur
Staff Writer

After nearly a decade of working with inmates at the McLeod County Jail, Lester Prairie resident Chester Hoernemann has opened his own clinic.

The clinic is located at 11 Juniper Street South in downtown Lester Prairie.

Hoernemann, a psychotherapist and certified anger management trainer/coach, will specialize in anger management counseling for individuals and groups.

“It’s exciting. I’m really looking forward to this,” Hoernemann said.

He earned his degree in 1999, and, during his last year in graduate school, approached the McLeod County Jail in Glencoe about doing an internship in anger management.

It turned out to be a successful arrangement, and after his internship, the jail administration asked him to continue his work there, and he has contracted with them since that time.

In addition to anger management, Hoernemann has worked on about 100 suicide intervention cases over the years.

“Suicide is the call for help that goes too far,” Hoernemann said. He said this has been confirmed by many interviews he has conducted with people who have attempted suicide, but failed.

Hoernemann said he is able to make a connection with his clients. “People have brought in people who were crying, and they went out laughing,” he commented.

He said he isn’t sure why he has been successful.

“Maybe it’s my age. Gray hair helps sometimes,” he said.

It may also be his life experience. He said he has had “1,000 jobs” over the years.

He also doesn’t buy it when someone says it is too late for them to change.

“I was 55 when I started college, and I hadn’t spent a day in school since 1957,” Hoernemann said.

He also has first-hand knowledge that helps him when dealing with clients who face chemical dependency issues. He is a recovering alcoholic, and went through chemical dependency treatment himself, and even considered going to school to become a chemical dependency counselor in the 1980s.

After earning a bachelor’s degree in psychology, he attended the Minnesota School of Professional Psychology, where he focussed on testing, and later transferred to St. Mary’s University where he focussed on marriage and family counseling.

He earned his graduate degree from the Alfred Adler Graduate School.

In addition to anger management counseling, Hoernemann plans to continue doing psychological testing and possibly pre-sentencing investigations for courts and probation officers.

One of the tools he uses is a psychological personality test called the Millen Clinical Multiaxial Inventory. He said administering and interpreting the results of this test often confirms his own conclusions that he has drawn from interviewing clients.

Hoernemann said he finds the difficult cases especially satisfying.

When working with inmates, he separates the person from the situation.

“I don’t concern myself with what they were arrested for. I deal with their mental issues, not their problems with the court,” Hoernemann explained.

Some of the clients he has met in the jail have continued to see him after they are released.

Hoernemann has slowly been working on his new office and establishing his new business.

He is not set up to accept any insurance companies yet, but he offers a sliding fee scale, and clients pay a rate based on their household income.

Looking ahead, Hoernemann said he would ultimately like to have another therapist working out of his office.

For now, he is gradually moving forward in a controlled manner, hoping to help people with their mental health issues, and make the world a less angry place.

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