FAIRMONT - Kris Shoen has been working in the mental health field a long time, beginning in nursing. Her own health issues adjusted her path a bit.
The loss of her vision prevented her from working as a nurse, but it didn't stop her from working altogether - far from it. Shoen was 49 when she returned to school, getting her bachelor's degree at Minnesota State-Mankato, and then her master's degree from the University of Minnesota.
"It was pretty scary," she said, acknowledging the help she received from her family, particularly her husband, Maurice. "... Maurice and the kids were behind me.
OPENING?UP?— Kris Shoen opened Krisma Counseling this week on West First Street in Fairmont.
"I just had to take deep breaths. I think that first year, if you'd have given me a nickel, I'd have gone home."
This week, at age 59, Shoen is opening her own practice, Krisma Counseling - a combination of Kris and Maurice Shoens' names.
Before Krisma, Shoen worked for Sioux Trails, but she wanted the independence and flexibility that comes with being your own boss. Again, her husband encouraged her to take a risk.
"This is our group room," said Shoen, showing off a large but cozy space with a conference table and chairs in her new office on West First Street. "I'm really tickled to have a group room."
She meets with three different groups per week, and also works with individuals, families, couples, children, victims of abuse, people struggling with anger management, and grief and loss.
"I am pretty much strength-based and cognitive," she said, describing her style of counseling. "To me, I think you meet people where they're at.
When working with clients, she has plenty of experience to draw from, not only professionally, but also from her personal life. The Shoens have two grown children, Shawn and Annie, and have fostered 49 other children over the years. Before moving to Fairmont, Shoen worked for three years in a group home in Rochester, during which time she figures about 450 kids came through.
"I've worked with a lot of kids in turmoil," said Shoen, who has followed her father's philosphy through all life's trials.
"Attitude is what makes you," she said. "You can decide to have a good attitude or a bad attitude and then go forward with that. I think that's pretty much ingrained in me."