Counselor Spotlight: Keisha Lett

By Rebecca Smith

Keisha Lett began to notice small changes in her 15-year-old counseling client.

“This was a girl who came in with high anxiety,” she said. “I would set things out for her to fidget with as we talked. She wasn’t able to express herself and she had some drug use. Then over time I noticed I didn’t have to put the objects out for her to play with. Her drug use slowed down, then stopped. She started sharing goals that she had for herself. I felt good about that, if I’m allowed to say that. I feel like I actually helped her.”

Keisha is one of the counselors in Next Step’s counseling program in schools. She started in February of 2020 working with Midlothian Middle School and High School, and Waxahachie High School. Since Keisha started with Next Step right before the virus hit, she and Next Step pivoted to seeing students through secure video counseling.

Keisha has been a counselor since 2016.

“Children and teenagers who don’t get needed help become adults who need help,” she said. “If I can help them when they’re young, that will bypass the problems as adults. As adults we have the tendency to forget what it was like when we were younger. We tend to brush off adolescents and their problems and say, ‘It’s nothing important, you’ll be fine.’ But to an adolescent, it is important and it’s not fine. I kind of feel like sometimes they don’t have a voice, they don’t have an outlet. So that was my purpose, because I remember what it was like to be in high school. Issues were serious!”

Keisha has been impressed with the culture at Next Step, stating: “People at Next Step actually care,” she said. “A lot of times with major organizations it becomes cold and routine, ‘let’s get them in, let’s get them out.’ At Next Step they seem to care not only about the clients, but about each other. ‘How are you doing with that? Does anyone have ideas about that?’ are among the common supportive questions asked among the staff members.”

Like many counselors, Keisha gets frustrated by the way counseling is sometimes viewed by society.

“There is such a stigma with mental health, just that phrase ‘mental health’ makes people think ‘Oh, they’re insane.’ People who see a counselor aren’t beyond hope. They just have issues they need help getting through. Mental health issues don’t equate to insanity. It doesn’t mean someone is damaged, or someone to be afraid of.”

Especially during such a stressful time that the country is going through in 2020, Keisha hopes mental health becomes more of a priority.

“I hope people who are struggling with everyday life take time to take care of themselves,” she said. “A lot of times we are more lenient with others than we are with ourselves. We must practice being as kind and merciful to ourselves as we are to others.”