COLUMBUS — Mike Goos knew he wanted to slow down a bit when he retired this spring, but he didn’t want to forsake his lifelong passion for delivering community mental health services to local people in need.
After growing up in Columbus, the 60-year-old Goos devoted the next 30 years to a career as a psychologist at public schools in Schuyler and Columbus while counseling children and their families, many of them first-generation immigrants.
“It’s always been my passion,” said Goos, who recently opened Discovery Counseling after retiring from Schuyler Community Schools following a dozen years on the job. The Columbus Public Schools Board of Education member also spent 20 years as a teacher and psychologist for the Discoverers.
“A lot of kids and families need help today,” said Goos, who received his specialist degree in school psychology from the University of Nebraska at Kearney.
“The divide between kids, parents and the school can be wide and sometimes people get lost,” he said.
The new counseling clinic, located at 3005 19th St., Suite 700, in the Columbus Family Resource Center, had a soft opening earlier this summer and will host a grand opening on July 28.
“We’re seeing a few people right now,” Goos said. “This is something I’ve wanted to do for a long time. My wife (Tracy) and I have been kicking this idea around.”
Tracy has been the office manager at Columbus Family Practice for the past 25 years and a source of counseling for her husband in launching the clinic.
“Tracy’s been a major consultant on all of this,” Goos said. “She’s given us a lot of direction.”
The Gooses are the parents of three grown children, Jacob, who is attending the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, and Abby and Allison, who are heading to the University of Nebraska at Omaha and Missouri Western State University, respectively, this fall.
Columbus and Schuyler have undergone seismic demographic shifts over the past 25 years as more Hispanic and other immigrants have moved into the communities to feed a chronically tight labor market.
Meanwhile, treatment gaps have opened in the last decade between rural communities and the availability of mental health services. The problem is an ongoing concern for state lawmakers in Lincoln.
Goos will be joined by four other therapists, two of them bilingual, at Discovery Counseling.
The therapy staff includes Adalis Ortiz-Vega, a native of Puerto Rico who has been counseling for about five or six years and will be getting started in parent-child interaction therapy, and Guadalupe Marino of Mexico, who Goos worked with in Schuyler and has extensive experience in immigration law and working with Hispanic children and families.
“They’ll be huge assets,” Goos said. “Guadalupe has a lot of experience in helping kids, whose parents might still be living in their home countries, adapt and assimilate into a new American culture.”
The staff also includes Kelsey Jordan, who has a depth of therapy experience from working in Colorado and Hawaii, and Gina Thurlow, a longtime mental health counseling provider.
Both bring a lot of expertise to their therapeutic services, Goos said.
The new clinic’s office manager is Elizabeth Rodriguez, who was born and raised in New York City. Her husband, a pastor at a local church, is a second-generation immigrant whose parents continue to live in El Salvador.
Goos’ brother, Robert, is a practicing psychiatrist in Colorado and as the Columbus clinic gets established could be available for telemedicine sessions with local clients.
"We hope to bring some fresh approaches with our services," Goos said.