Dr. Kelli Ritter
Cart 0

Wellness Counseling


A strengths-based, holistic approach in professional counseling where we focus on health, wellness and wholehearted living.


My Perspective

Professional counselors’ roots are in wellness & guidance.  As clinical mental health professionals we have become diverse in our approaches to mental health and are able to offer a wide variety of modalities. We often work along side our social worker, psychologist and psychiatrist friends and it can be confusing to the general public to discern what counselors actually do.  Professional Counselors, often called Clinical Mental Health Counselors in some States, work in all kinds of settings and with all kinds of people.  Licensed Professional Counselors complete rigorous graduate study, hold at least a Master’s Degree in clinical mental health counseling or professional counseling and have completed years of supervised work in the field. We are also required to continue professional training for licensure renewal.

My preferred approach to working with people is through a wellness lens. Some of my colleagues prefer a medical model, but I use a wellness model and have dedicated my role as a counselor educator to preserving our wellness roots. In my wellness course and workshops I focus on both utilizing a wellness model with clients as well as deepening our own wellness practice.

Wellness Counseling is:

  • Strengths-based

  • Holistic

  • Research guided

  • Oriented toward the goal of an increasingly healthy lifestyle


The Indivisible Self Wellness Model

The first time I met Dr. Jane Myers I was a doc student at GSU and a research assistant for Dr. Catharina Chang. We were at a counseling leadership related event and Dr. Myers walked up to Catharina and I and exclaimed, “Is this my research granddaughter?” I didn’t know her but I immediately liked her and felt her warmth. Catharina had been a research assistant for Jane at UNCG and now as Catharina’s research assistant; I got to be Jane’s research granddaughter. I didn’t really get to know Jane all that well and only saw her about once a year at National conferences. Although I worked from a wellness perspective, shared an Adlerian theory focus with Jane and was involved with Chi Sigma Iota, I did not study wellness. My research and practice focus was child, adolescent and family counseling throughout my doctoral studies and then for then next 15 years or so. It wasn’t really until my father’s cancer diagnosis (see Gut Health page) that wellness became my career focus. Then, in January 2015, I had a pulmonary embolism. I was lying in bed feeling like I was giving birth through my lung and out my back, not sure exactly what was happening at that point, and I got word that Jane had passed away. I felt deep sadness and also a deep connection to her. I could tell at the time that if I lived, my life was changing. I could feel an internal shifting and it felt almost like Jane was handing me something. I couldn’t understand it at the time and I still can’t adequately explain it


 Not long after my recovery, which was thankfully quick after a week in the hospital, I returned to work a new person. I started teaching wellness in my classes in a new way. I re-read all of Jane’s research and created a proposal to develop a wellness course in our Master’s program. I had a group of five students in practicum/internship that stuck with me through the transformation and helped me persevere with the course development.  In fact, they were the only students to sign up for the course the first time it was offered.

Jane’s life was her teaching. She worked tirelessly to promote wellness counseling practice & research in the field. She was a pioneer in many ways and I am forever grateful and honored to be her research granddaughter. One of her great contributions to the field was co-creating the only model of wellness based on counseling theory – The Indivisible Self Model.


IS-WEL Model

The Indivisible Self (IS-Wel) Model is an evidence-based wellness model developed by Drs. Myers and Sweeney. Adlerian Theory was used as a base explanation for the structural model. Adler argued that humans can only be understood holistically and that we are social creatures. He insisted on viewing humans as indivisible and his concepts of belonging, social interest and courage continue to influence helping professionals today. The IS-Wel model provides a framework for understanding wellness in counseling practice and research. The IS-Wel Model:

- Exemplifies holism as foundational for human wellness
- Is evidenced-based
- Can be measured using the Five Factor Wellness Inventory (5F-WEL)
- Describes The Indivisible Self and the contextual contributions that influence wellness both positively and negatively.
- Incorporates Five Second-order Factors:

  • Essential Self

  • Social Self

  • Creative Self

  • Physical Self

  • Coping Self

To learn more about the legacy of Dr. Jane Myers and her research, please visit www.csi-net.org