Kyle Clayton
SEARHC clinicians Ryan Laine and Kathleen Furness met with community members Tuesday at the ANB Hall.

Haines Borough Mayor Douglas Olerud and manager Annette Krietzer welcomed two new Haines mental health providers on Tuesday at the ANB Hall.

Olerud gave a short speech highlighting the need for Haines residents to find stability and certainty in light of local and national stressors.

“It is becoming increasingly difficult to find those sources of grounding. We’re bombarded with content on TV, social media, and print publication showing images and stories of conflict, death, riots as well as amazing wealth, material goods and travel to exotic locations,” Olerud said. “How do we balance that?”

He said that partisanship, the pandemic and the 2020 storms have all been factors leading to a sense of alienation and trauma that many residents experience.

“To some extent we’ve all been traumatized, stressed or experienced great grief,” Olerud said.

Olerud welcomed SEARHC mental health clinicians Ryan Laine and Kathleen Furness to Haines and urged them to build relationships with not only residents but other providers in town. Laine and Furness arrived in February, and they spoke with a handful of residents Tuesday morning about their counseling services.

“It’s a real honor to get to serve a small community like this,” Laine told the CVN. “The Haines community has been so gracious and welcoming us and acknowledging us, which feels really great.”

Laine specializes in “eye movement desensitization and reprocessing” (EMDR) therapy, a technique that gets “both sides of the brain fired up.”

“That logical, practical side is working with that emotional, creative side and we’re processing all of that information with both sides,” Furness said. “That’s a lot more effective, and safe, than if that emotional right side is taking control. Using that in therapy, that keeps clients at that level of emotional and intensity at a safe level so they can process what they’re working through without getting retraumatized.”

Furness and Laine wanted residents to know they offer services outside of long-term therapy.

“We’re a resource, even if it’s just for information,” she said. “We have people who need services not because they’re necessarily in crisis, but just like you go to a doctor for a checkup, they come in for a checkup with how they’re doing, and managing life’s stressors.”

Besides SEARHC, local private practice services are available. JAMHI Health and Wellness and Bartlett Regional Hospital out of Juneau are also providing remote assistance for residents.