Viterbo University alumna LeeAnn Van Vreede ’01 always had a feeling she would be back at Viterbo one day. That premonition came true in January 2016 when she was named director of counseling services.
“Viterbo did great things for me,” said Van Vreede, who earned a degree in psychology from Viterbo and a master’s degree in counseling psychology from the University of St. Thomas. “I was a lost person until I was found. Now I’m providing students with the same services that helped me.”
Originally a biology/pre-med major, Van Vreede quickly fell in love with psychology after discovering the field in college.
“By understanding the human mind and listening, we can really help people make positive changes,” she said. “It is very rewarding to see people realize they have the power to improve their lives. Counseling can be exhausting, however, because you hear about a great deal of trauma, grief, and pain.”
Van Vreede and her staff help students deal with everything from the transition to college life and roommate conflicts to severe mental health problems. She also leads the university’s crisis intervention team, who are called when a student experiences a death in the family or some other serious issue or occurrence. Counseling staff saw 186 students for 719 sessions and an additional 100 crisis walk-ins during the fall semester. The numbers have increased during the pandemic.
“I enjoy working with college students because they are at a great age for brain and social development, and most are motivated to change, learn, and grow,” Van Vreede said.
Van Vreede, who in her free time enjoys golfing, bowling, and walking with her husband and two sons, is very happy with her career choice.
“Viterbo is where I’d like to stay,” she said. “I enjoy what I do and the students need and appreciate the services we provide. I worked 10 years in clinical psychology, and I never want to fight with an insurance company again.”